Joining their artistry in a 26-year-old tradition, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony presented the 14th O.C. Tanner Gift of Music Concert Nov. 20-21 to capacity and overflow audiences in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection" was the composition performed, under the baton of Keith Lockhart, who recently stepped down as the Utah Symphony's music director, serving in that post since 1998. During that time, he was also conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a position he still occupies. Mr. Lockhart conducted two previous Gift of Music concerts, one in 2000 and the other in 2002.
Soprano Janice Chandler Eteme and mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby were soloists for the two performances.
In notes in the printed program, the First Presidency conveyed the essence of this musical tradition in these words: "It was the combined vision of Obert Tanner and Gordon B. Hinckley, beloved past president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that created this artistic vehicle to share performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony as a free gift to the community. The professional association between these two great musical organizations spans many decades and includes a performance before the entire world during the opening ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
"This community has long been blessed by the generosity of Obert C. and Grace Tanner, whose desire was to lift the hearts of all humankind with things of beauty." Obert C. Tanner founded an eminently successful business in downtown Salt Lake City that provides performance and service awards to more than 8,000 companies. He was well-known for his philanthropy. He established 11 philosophy libraries at prestigious colleges and universities, and donated some 40 fountains to communities, colleges, hospitals and universities.
Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony was completed in 1894, inspired by the Austrian composer's attendance at the funeral of a colleague, where the choir sang a setting for a poem by Friedrich Klopstock, which included words, which, translated, read: "Arise, yes, you will arise, my mortal dust, after a short rest."
The poem, incorporated into Mahler's symphony, might resonate with Latter-day Saint listeners, as might Mahler's own words from the same symphony, translated as follows:
You were not born in vain,
Have not lived in vain, suffered in vain!
What was created must perish.
What has perished must rise again.
Tremble no more!
Prepare yourself to live!