Choir performs at Tanglewood
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LENOX, Mass. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir reached a significant milestone by performing July 11 at one of North America's premier music festivals, Tanglewood, at the conclusion of its summer tour, which began June 24.
"This is like being invited to play in the Super Bowl," said Craig Jessop, the choir's music director, a few moments before the performance in Tanglewood's music pavilion, The Shed, in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. "Musicians dream about being invited to perform at Tanglewood as much as athletes dream about the Super Bowl."
It was a night of dreams. Not only did the choir perform at one of the world's most prestigious music venues, but it also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, deemed one of the best in the nation. And there was more: the singers were directed in the second half of the program by world-renowned conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, who conducted "A German Requiem" by Johannes Brahms.
While many in the choir appeared star-struck to be under the famous conductor's baton, he was exuberant in his praise of the singers. Asked after the concert what the choir was like to direct, he exclaimed, "Glorious! Absolutely glorious!" After a brief pause in which he seemed to contemplate what more he could say, he repeated the one-word exclamation. "Glorious!" and added, "You don't need any other word to describe it."
The Brahms performance featured guest soloists Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, soprano, and Russell Braun, lyric baritone.
The first portion of the concert featured Brother Jessop directing the choir and Boston Symphony, along with some of an ensemble from the Orchestra at Temple Square, in Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms." Benjamin Goldsmith, 11, of New York's Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus was featured as boy soprano.
The choir and orchestra ensemble returned to Salt Lake City July 12. While feeling all along that the tour was a success, several in the group described the Tanglewood concert, attended by some 5,200 people, as "the cherry on top."
Throughout the tour, the choir performed a program of varied pieces from the masters, folk tunes, Americana, hymns and anthems. Everywhere, they received prolonged applause and calls for encores.
With the Tanglewood program consisting of the Bernstein and Brahms works, this concert was different in content, but its reception by the audience was similar to others on the tour. An usher said Tanglewood audiences usually don't give standing ovations, but this one did. In fact, the audience stood and applauded through four curtain calls.