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Mormon Tabernacle Choir: ‘One of the proudest achievements of our country’

President Thomas S. Monson, third from right, joins guest artists on stage after Mormon Tabernacle C

President Thomas S. Monson, third from right, joins guest artists on stage after Mormon Tabernacle Choir's broadcast and mini-concert in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday morning, Dec. 13, 2009. On his left is Natalie Cole, singer and songwriter; on his right is David McCullough, acclaimed author and historian who provided the program's narration, who introduces his wife, Rosalee Barnes, on his right. Choir President Mac Christensen is at far right. At left are Scott Barrick, the choir's business manager; Mack Wilberg, the choir's music director; and Ron Gunnell, of the choir.

Gerry Avant, Church News


Mormon Tabernacle Choir: ‘One of the proudest achievements of our country’

President Thomas S. Monson, third from right, joins guest artists on stage after Mormon Tabernacle C

President Thomas S. Monson, third from right, joins guest artists on stage after Mormon Tabernacle Choir's broadcast and mini-concert in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday morning, Dec. 13, 2009. On his left is Natalie Cole, singer and songwriter; on his right is David McCullough, acclaimed author and historian who provided the program's narration, who introduces his wife, Rosalee Barnes, on his right. Choir President Mac Christensen is at far right. At left are Scott Barrick, the choir's business manager; Mack Wilberg, the choir's music director; and Ron Gunnell, of the choir.

Gerry Avant, Church News

SALT LAKE CITY

Singer and songwriter Natalie Cole and acclaimed author and historian David McCullough appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in its Sunday morning broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" on Dec. 13.

In a mini-concert after the broadcast, Miss Cole sang and did a presentation of "The Christmas Story," as recorded in the second chapter of Luke.

Mr. McCullough presented a reading, "American Christmas Memories," which he had presented also during the three concerts.

Acclaimed author and historian David McCullough provides narration during the Mormon Tabernacle Choi

Acclaimed author and historian David McCullough provides narration during the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast Sunday morning, Dec. 13, 2009. He appeared with the choir and Orchestra at Temple Square during their annual Christmas concert, Dec. 10, 11 and 12.

Gerry Avant, Church News

Thomas S. Monson, who was in the audience, joined the guests onstage after the mini-concert. He told them that the five most important words in the English language are, "I am proud of you." The two most important words, he said, are "Thank you."

Looking at Miss Cole and Mr. McCullough, President Monson said, "We are proud of you. Thank you."

Mack Wilberg, Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s musical director, acknowledges singer Natalie Cole after m

Mack Wilberg, Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s musical director, acknowledges singer Natalie Cole after mini-concert in the Conference Center on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009.

Gerry Avant, Church News

David McCulough, left, and Mack Wilberg share stage after mini-concert on Dec. 13. Mr. McCullough ga

David McCulough, left, and Mack Wilberg share stage after mini-concert on Dec. 13. Mr. McCullough gave a reading of "American Christmas Memories," which included the story of the songs, "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Gerry Avant, Church News

The two guests made impromptu remarks in response.

Miss Cole said, "I've never been as deeply moved as I have since I arrived here in Salt Lake City."

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square,  dancers and youth singers rehearse before broa

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, dancers and youth singers rehearse before broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" on Dec. 13, 2009.

Gerry Avant, Church News

Referring to a visit to his office a few days earlier during which time she was presented a copy of her family history, she said, "President Monson, meeting you moved me to no end. The presentation of the genealogy was more than I could take. Your church and your people are beautiful people, and I am so glad to know that we share the same faith, the same heart. All your hearts are so good. I [could] feel it every day, as I would wake up, that this is my city. Thank you for your hospitality, your love. … I hope to see you soon. God bless."

Mr. McCullough, who has twice won the National Book Award and twice the Pulitzer Prize, said, "President Monson, I am, oddly, at a loss for words.

"I want to say it is a thrill beyond anything in my experience to have taken part in the last several days here and an honor beyond my capacity at the moment to stand with two such great Americans, you and Natalie."

Lloyd Newell, host of "Music and the Spoken Word," welcomes audience in the Conference Center prior

Lloyd Newell, host of "Music and the Spoken Word," welcomes audience in the Conference Center prior to the Sunday morning broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word," which was followed by a mini-concert; during the two programs, most of the selections from the choir’s Christmas concerts were performed.

Gerry Avant, Church News

He expressed gratitude that his wife, whom he called his polar star, the star by which he navigates, was invited to join them onstage. The audience applauded after Mr. McCullough said, "Rosalee and I have been married, this week, for 55 years."

Before concluding, he added, "I just want to say one thing quickly. Toward the end of his life, President John Adams was having a conversation in privacy at his home in Quincy, Mass., with the young Ralph Waldo Emerson who was newly out of Harvard College. The president said, 'I wish to God that there were more ambition in the land.' And then he paused and said, 'By that I mean ambition of a laudable kind: ambition to excel, not to have more power or money or fame, but to excel.'

Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott received enthusiastic applause for his performance of "Good King

Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott received enthusiastic applause for his performance of "Good King Wenceslas" during concerts Dec. 10-12. Members of the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square and other performers were unable to see his playing and fancy foot work on the organ, so after the mini-concert Dec. 13, they were invited to sit in the audience where they could watch. He received a standing ovation after the performance.

Gerry Avant, Churh News

"And I have felt that these past days in a way that I have never been a party to; this desire of everybody involved in this production to excel. Your great Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of the high achievements of our nation. To me, it stands as a noble attainment, and we've had many of those in our story as a people. I like to think of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Marshall Plan, for example. I would include the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as one of the proudest achievements of our country, an expression of the human spirit for all."

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