European members prepare for concerts
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Members across Europe, from the far reaches of hamlets and villages, have bought tickets and reserved buses to attend one of the 10 concerts planned by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Europe this month.
"Enthusiasm is running high among the members," said Allan Dietlein, who serves as a public affairs missionary with his wife, Sandy, in the Europe West Area office. "Some members consider the concerts a once-in-a-lifetime experience."The choir tour begins June 14 in London and ends July 1 in Lisbon, Portugal. It is the 26th major tour by the choir, and the 17th tour outside the United States. The concerts have been highly publicized and are generating much interest about the choir.
"In Marseille, France, and in neighboring cities like Aix-en-Provence, huge posters [announcing the choir performance] have been plastered all over town in traditional European style in blocks of eight to 10 in a row," said Brother Dietlein.
The choir will visit several cities where it has never performed before, including Torino, Italy. (Please see Church News, May 16, 1998.)
Each performance will have an announcer who is a local resident and a member of the Church, except for one, said Brother Dietlein. The concert in northern Italy will be introduced by Evans Tonon, a native of Torino and a returned missionary who served in Utah in 1989-91.
Brother Tonon was born in 1970 to Italian parents who joined the Church when membership was less than 50 in this city of more than 1 million people. "His name is unique, in that `Evans' is not Italian," said Brother Dietlein.
As new members of the Church, his parents were impressed with the messages of Elder Richard L. Evans who gave the Spoken Word during the weekly Tabernacle Choir broadcasts, as reported in La Stella, the Italian version of the Ensign.
They decided to name their firstborn child after "a special servant of the Lord who loved inspiring music and was gifted with words," said Brother Dietlein.
During his life, Brother Tonon has developed a love of inspiring music and writing. He has made music a major part of his life and will soon begin an operatic career as a singer. His musical talents were demonstrated early in life when he and his brother, Morgan, performed in Church-sponsored roadshows. He also enjoyed singing Christmas carols in the streets of Torino and in hospitals and rest homes.
He now directs the district choir in conferences and concerts that have proven to be an effective missionary tool.
"Singing as a choir," he said, "is helping the youth be united and strong in the Church, since music carries with it the Spirit of the Lord, and the use of talents helps people grow while serving."
The significance of introducing one of the greatest choirs of the world in one of the historically rich areas of classical music is not lost on Brother Tonan who is grateful for such an opportunity and believes that Italy will be blessed because of the concert.
Ten concerts are scheduled by the Tabernacle Choir in seven countries, including London, England, June 14; Brussels, Belgium, June 16; Geneva, Switzerland, June 18; Turin, Italy, June 20; Marseilles, France, June 24; Rome, Italy, June, 22; Barcelona, Spain, June 26; Madrid, Spain, June 29; El Escorial, Spain, June 28; and Lisbon, Portugal, July 1.
Among the highlights of the tour will be performances in Accademia Santa Caecilia, a concert hall in Vatican City just several blocks from St. Peter's Square, and a recital in a 500-year-old basilica at El Escorial, Spain.