As I waited on June 29 at Red Rocks for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir benefit concert for the National Sports Center for the Disabled, a front blew away the afternoon heat. Light breezes and a sunset of reds, oranges and yellows replaced a smattering of raindrops. The occasional thunder and lightning moved into the distance.
The 360-member “America’s Choir,” so named by President Ronald Reagan, together with the 60-plus-member Orchestra at Temple Square delivered magnificently. The program began with the choir singing powerfully “Alleluia Fanfare and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” I felt the music reach into my soul and bring out the music there.
I felt the same as the choir and orchestra performed a phenomenal range of music. They continued with two more hymns, music of the masters and of the world, and American folk hymns before taking a break.
After intermission, Dean Singleton, Associated Press chairman of the board, Media News group CEO, and NSCD Board of Directors member and a former chairman, rode a motorized scooter toward the stage. He got off and walked with assistance to the microphone.
There Singleton shared a brief conversation he had on Oct. 31, 2008, with Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Singleton said he told Monson his own legs didn’t work so well. In response, Monson said something like, “You have your head and your heart. And with those, you don’t need legs.”
Singleton told the audience that is exactly what the National Sports Center for the Disabled aims to do, to help the mentally and physically challenged with their head and heart. I feel proud my ticket price contributed.
Next, Singleton introduced “The Call of Champions,” which John Williams composed for the choir for the 2002 Olympics. During the performance, a touching film showed disabled athletes competing in sports. The program continued with African-American spirituals, songs from the American theater, and “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a favorite of the Church.
Much of the time throughout the choir performance, I wanted to join in singing. I took that opportunity when Mack Wilberg, the choir’s music director, invited the audience to sing with the choir a few lines of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a song which won the choir a Grammy. In a small way, that fulfilled my dream of singing with the choir.
I’m sure my moment in the stands couldn’t compare, however, to the fun Governor Bill Ritter had conducting the choir’s encore number, “This Land Is Your Land.” He had so much fun, he dropped the baton!
After the concert as I made my way up 180 stairs from the stands to home, I thought about the music, Singleton and Monson’s message. In fact, I still do.
Links to see:
“My Mormon Tabernacle Choir Dream” at:
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s range awes, entertains” by Ricardo Baca, Denver Post Pop Music Critic, June 30, 2009: http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_12718663
“Voices most divine: It’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s first Red Rocks concert in 25 years” by Ricardo Baca, Denver Post Pop Music Critic, June 15, 2009: http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_12572265
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s own story of the Red Rocks concert: http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/pages/T09_RedRocks
Website for the National Sports Center for the Disabled: http://www.nscd.org/