News Release

Reprise of ’74 Expo Choir Sings at 50th Anniversary Celebration

Fourteen original choir members who sang during the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington, perform for 1,500 people

The 50th anniversary celebration of Expo ’74, a world’s fair held in Spokane, Washington, started on Saturday, May 4, 2024. As part of the opening ceremony, a regional choir of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reprising the ’74 Mormon Expo Choir, sang to over 1,500 in attendance.

Elder Mark A. Bragg, president of the North America West Area, attended the concert and felt the power of their voices.

It was beautiful. It was powerful, and it was sung with such confidence and joy. It brought hope, and it brought a spirit to this festival that I know everyone identified,” said Elder Bragg.

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The choir was under the direction of Karlyn Brett, who also was the original director of the 1974 choir.

“We’re 50 years older, but that makes it special to realize that we can still do [this],” Brett said.

This year’s choir includes 14 original members of the ’74 choir, children and grandchildren of original members, and new members. Lara Voigtlaender, whose mother was in the original choir, said she looked forward to the shared experience.

The experience goes right down to your soul,” Voigtlaender said. “That’s something that my mom and I will always share — that connection of doing something that not only moved us, but it moved everyone around us.”

In 1973, Brett was serving on a music committee for the region when Spokane was selected to host the world’s fair. In a planning meeting, she was asked what the Church of Jesus Christ could display for Expo.

“And I said, ‘Well, what about a choir?’ So, we started recruiting, and they just came out of the woodwork. People wanted to be in it,” she said.

Brett also believes God was helping the choir come together.

The Lord had made this possible and wanted it. This was to be an opportunity to share with the world our testimonies and people where they belonged. We just had everybody in place for it,” she said.

One of the favorite songs sung by the Expo Choir was “Who Am I?” which stuck with Voigtlaender, who heard the song when she was a 6-year-old.

“I felt then that the power of the message, which was we’re sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us,” she said. “And so, throughout my life, I can reflect on what that felt like. I look forward to, kind of, coming full circle with that memory because I will get to stand in the position of the deliverer of the message, not just the receiver.”

That same song has never been forgotten by Jennet Siniff. She also sang in this year’s choir.

I don’t even have to look at the music, because it stayed. So it was really a wonderful experience for me and testimony building. The songs that we did sing — the words have just always stuck with me the past 50 years,” she said.

Siniff joined the choir in the beginning because of her daughter, Joyce Hawkins, who was taking piano lessons from Karlyn Brett.

“When you work with Karlyn Brett, there is a level of expectation of performance and duty [and] dedication, and she was my piano teacher. I totally knew what I was in for, because she expected at lessons,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins was one of the youngest members of the ’74 choir, at 16 years old, but was not nervous to sing in front of the world, largely because of Brett’s direction.

“Her level of professionalism and what she offered and testimony to me made it even more fun to be part of that group. We really sang at a high level — a high spiritual level. It was pretty cool,” Hawkins said.

Brett’s level of professionalism and talent helped the choir create a legacy spanning generations.

“I don’t think they understood or even contemplated the effect that the choir would have,” Voigtlaender said. “I think they thought it was just a local choir, and they were going to sing, and it was going to be nice for Expo. I don’t think they had any idea how influential and powerful the music was going to be to so many people.”

For Brett, the mission of the choir has not changed in 50 years.

“The whole choir really hopes that [people] feel our testimony, our spirit, the love we have for the gospel and for Spokane,” she said.

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