News Release

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Thrills Chautauqua Crowds

The rainy skies in Chautauqua, New York, did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Saturday, 25 June 2011. During the fourth stop of their week-long summer tour, the choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performed matinee and evening concerts for large audiences who showed their appreciation with several standing ovations.

In addition to the 10,000 people who packed the auditorium, many people sat on the porches and balconies of nearby houses to enjoy the open-air concert. This marks the third time in eight years the choir has sung at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit community that hosts performances, lectures and activities throughout the summer. The institution’s vice president and director of programming, Marty Merkley, said the Chautauqua crowds love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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“It’s always a joy and a thrill to have them here,” he said. “The sound that the choir makes, the music that they present is so extraordinary, you have to be pretty jaded not to be moved by it. I think that Chautauquans, on a whole, are the kind of people who like being moved by the spirituality of the event, and I think that comes through very clearly when the choir performs here.”

Merkley served as the guest conductor for the choir’s encore of “This Land Is Your Land” during both concerts, and he said the experience was something he will never forget.

“It was just truly amazing,” he said. “Standing in front of that group of well over 300 people and hearing that sound and to feel that you are in some way participating in the performance on a very personal level is truly an overwhelming experience.”

Clyde Marshall of Liberty, Pennsylvania, came to hear his son Randy, who sings with the choir.

I’ve watched him on television many times, but this is the first time I have seen him in person. It was just beyond description,” Marshall said. “It was great because I understand how much effort he and all of the other members put in to make that music.”

Randy Marshall’s brother, Steve, had the opportunity to sing with the choir during the afternoon rehearsal.

“To actually sit there and sing with those guys was just amazing,” he said.

Sue Coblentz traveled from Dayton, Ohio, for the concert. She is one of the choir’s biggest fans, having seen them in person about 20 times since she first heard them in 1962.

“There’s nothing else like it. It’s heavenly. It’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven, but you’re still here,” she said.

Although Coblentz does not share the faith of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singers, she thinks their music appeals to people of all backgrounds.

“A Latter-day Saint couldn’t love the choir any more than I do. It makes me a better Lutheran,” she said.

The choir and orchestra now travel to Toronto, Canada, to wrap up their 2011 tour with two concerts at Roy Thomson Hall.

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