For the first time in nearly 45 years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is set to perform in Arizona Feb. 10-11. The special occasion is part of Arizona's centennial celebration.
"We are thrilled to have them come," said Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission. "This concert was actually the first of our signature events that we identified and approved."
Considering the history of the Latter-day Saints in Arizona, the choir performing is "a perfect match," she said. "We looked at this as an event that people would appreciate and enjoy."
Elder David E. LeSueur, Area Seventy, said the concert is the "crowning jewel" of the celebration.
"It's a wonderful tribute to the Church," he said. "And, in turn, the Church pays tribute to Arizona."
Mormon Tabernacle Choir General Manager Scott Barrick said the choir was "honored to receive the invitation of the Arizona Centennial Commission."
The "one and only time" the choir has previously been to Arizona was in 1967, he said. The concert was sponsored by 10 stakes in the Phoenix area.
"The long history of the Latter-day Saint involvement in Arizona along with the sizeable population of Church members who reside in Arizona as well as the recent increase in temple building in the state all make it fitting for the choir to appear at this time," he said.
The 360-voice choir with its 110-member companion ensemble, the Orchestra at Temple Square, will present two performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. Roc Arnett, director of the Church's Phoenix Public Affairs Council, said Arizona's great history is intertwined with the Latter-day Saints.
Numerous communities were settled by early pioneers, the Mormon Battalion marched through the area in 1846-47 and many members of the Church were civic leaders who helped to build Arizona, said Brother Arnett.
"It's quite an amazing connection."