Diplomat lauds choir for 'great tradition'

A former British prime minister, in Salt Lake City to help celebrate Utah Symphony's 50th anniversary, delighted members of the Tabernacle Choir as he played one of his compositions on the famed Tabernacle organ after the Choir's weekly Sunday broadcast May 13.

The Right Honorable Edward Heath, Britain's prime minister from 1970-1974 and a member of Parliament for the past 40 years, addressed the Choir after the half-hour broadcast."You've made your tone and style characteristic. . . . I want to congratulate you on continuing a remarkable standard; we're all immensely grateful to you for it," the former prime minister told Choir members.

An accomplished organist, Mr. Heath received a degree in organ at Oxford University, and has played at the Salisbury Cathedral in southern England. He commented that this was the second occasion of his playing the Tabernacle organ, but the first since its restoration. (The organ underwent extensive restoration work from 1984-88.)

Noting that the English-style organ has similar characteristics the one at his college, the former prime minister gave plaudits to the Choir for carrying on the great classical works tradition "magnificently."

Also in attendance at the Sunday broadcast were Maj. Gen. Sir Roy Redgrave, a prominent military figure in Britain, and his wife, Lady Valerie Redgrave.

Sir Redgrave has been decorated with the British military cross, and is an avid explorer, having traveled to the Arctic and Greenland, among other lands. Though this is the Redgraves' first trip to Utah, he said, "it's not our last."

"We're absolutely amazed at the freshness of the place," he commented.

The former prime minister conducted the Utah Symphony on Friday, May 11, with Maestro Joseph Silverstein. An honorary member of the London Symphony Orchestra, he has conducted numerous symphonies throughout the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

In 1963, he was the recipient of the Charlemagne Prize for the "most notable achievement in the service of encouraging international understanding and co-operation in Europe."

During the five-day trip to Salt Lake City, the 73-year-old member of Parliament visited with the First Presidency in their offices, with Utah Gov. Norman Bangerter at the State Capitol, and the board of directors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

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