News Release

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Shares 100-Year Love of Music With Philadelphia

The love of music was in abundance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as the City of Brotherly Love, on Thursday, 23 June 2011, as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir continued its summer tour at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

The concert marked the 100th anniversary of the choir’s first performances in Philadelphia in 1911 and its second appearance at the Mann Center. The outdoor venue provided an ideal setting for a summer concert, and the enthusiastic crowd loved every minute of the choir’s varied program.

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“It was a great show. The purity of the sound, the arrangements, the execution, everything was great,” Anthony Rombola of Glenside, Pennsylvania, said. “It was just a beautiful evening.”

“It was very powerful and inspiring,” Rombola’s wife, Sydney, agreed. “Their interpretations of the music was really what I enjoyed most. It seemed like they had a message to share with each song.”

Kelly Toukatly of Philadelphia said that listening to the choir in person is quite different from hearing it on the radio or a CD.

“You just cannot imagine the fervent beauty of their music and how they are just so involved with what they are doing,” she said. “You also do get a sense of what the music means to them and you cannot capture that only in their voice. Their movements, their great joy, their great enthusiasm for what they are doing cannot be paralleled by listening to them only.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was the guest conductor for the evening, leading the choir and orchestra in a rousing rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” The mayor has helped The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the planning and zoning process for a new temple to be built in downtown Philadelphia.

Choir member Kristen Gerdy lived in Philadelphia for two years and was excited to be back in the area.

“It’s cool to be back,” she said. “I have many friends who came to the concert, and it was fun.”

While in Philadelphia, the choir also sang with the famous Wanamaker organ, the largest working organ in the world. The special performance was part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the organ, which was built into the Wanamaker Department Store in 1911. The building is now owned by Macy’s, and the organ continues to be a historic fixture in Philadelphia.

Tabernacle organists Richard Elliott and Clay Christiansen played several numbers on the organ, and the choir sang three numbers. It was an especially meaningful experience for Elliott, who had a job playing the organ when he was a student at the Curtis Institute of Music.

“This was like a homecoming for me,” he said. “Back then I remember thinking it would be so cool to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing here with this organ, but I never thought it would actually happen. When this all came together, I still couldn’t believe it was happening, but it was a great experience.”

The invitation-only crowd loved hearing the renowned choir with the famous organ.

“It was great that they could come celebrate with Macy’s for the organ anniversary,” Katie Young said.

“This was my first time hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and hearing a phenomenal choral group with that organ was spectacular,” Gary Patterson said. “I was just blown away the entire time. It was stunning.”

The next stop on the choir’s tour is the Chautauqua Institution in New York for two concerts on Saturday, 25 June.

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