Cynthia Doxey, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s European Tours,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Europe, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and Brent L. Top (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 185–99.
Throughout the approximately 150 years of its history, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has grown from a singing group whose major parpose was to provide music for Church meetings held at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to a choir with an international reputation. In 1893 an invitation came to the Tabernacle Choir to perform at the Columbian Exhibition for the Chicago World’s Fair. The trip to Chicago is recognized as the choir’s first concert tour outside of Utah. During the twentieth century, the choir gained both a national and international reputation because of its numerous recordings, weekly radio and television broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, and tours to many areas of the world. Now the Tabernacle Choir stands among the most well-known entities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, former United States President Ronald Reagan described the choir as “America’s most renowned musical ensemble.”  While the Tabernacle Choir has traveled widely throughout the world, this paper will focus on its five European concert tours and how the tours strengthened the Church in Europe.
Jerold D. Ottley, retired music director of the choir, has said that “the Tabernacle Choir is the flag-bearer that leads the parade.”  In other words, while the choir is not the “parade,” or the substance of the gospel, it can often prepare individuals and countries to receive the message of the Church. The choir has opened doors for the Church and touched people’s lives in ways that other Church emissaries may not have been able to do. At the end of the most recent concert tour to Europe in 1998, Elder Gene R. Cook spoke the following words to the choir in Lisbon, Portugal: “I don’t know when we have had more news coverage for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than we’ve had in the past three weeks. . . . The impact in the press has been great. . . . I don’t know of anything that has brought the Church out of obscurity in the time that I’ve been here any more than what has happened these last few weeks. It has been phenomenal.” 
The Tabernacle Choir first traveled to Europe on a seven-week concert tour in 1955. Since that first grand European tour, the choir has toured there four other times: to western and central Europe in 1973, northern Europe in 1982, eastern Europe in 1991, and southern Europe in 1998. Below is a list of the cities and countries where concerts were given during the choir’s five tours to Europe.
The Grand European Tour, 1955: Glasgow, Manchester, London, and Cardiff, United Kingdom; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin and Wiesbaden, Germany; Amsterdam and Scheveningen, The Netherlands; Bern and Zurich, Switzerland; Paris, France.
European Tour, 1973: Munich, Germany; Paris, France; London, England.
Northern European Tour, 1982: Bergen and Oslo, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen and Aalborg, Denmark; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; London, England.
Eastern European Tour, 1991: Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin, Germany; Strasbourg, France; Zurich, Switzerland; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Warsaw, Poland; Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia.
Southern European Tour, 1998: London, United Kingdom; Brussels, Belgium; Geneva, Switzerland; Turin and Rome, Italy; Marseille, France; Barcelona, Madrid, and El Escorial, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal.
The Tabernacle Choir has contributed to the Church in Europe in four dimensions: (1) the publicity and media associated with the tours, (2) the effect of the concerts, (3) the relationships built with church and community leaders, and (4) the experiences of sharing the gospel and strengthening Church members.  Prior to discussing the four dimensions mentioned, I will give a short general description of the choir tours. 
Due to the large number of people traveling with the choir, the modes of travel for the European tours have included chartered aircraft, cruise ships, trains, and buses. The first European tour in 1955 required travel by sea, air, train, and bus to cross the Atlantic and to get around the European continent. Other tours have also used similar modes of transportation, although ships have only been used in 1955, 1982, and 1998. Arranging for the travel is a colossal task because choir members often bring guests with them, meaning that between five and seven hundred individuals travel together on the choir’s concert tours.  One small example illustrates the effect on the people who come in contact with the choir when traveling in such a large group. A few choir members asked a porter in the choir’s Lisbon hotel in 1998 if he had heard of the Tabernacle Choir. He rolled his eyes and nodded his head, replying, “Twelve hundred suitcases,” referring to the difficult task he had of sorting all the luggage and taking the suitcases to each room. 
When the choir travels together on a tour, people who meet them are impressed not only by the number of people but also because the entire group embraces the same beliefs and lifestyle. individuals keeping the Word of Wisdom often impress the attendants who serve the choir on airplanes, ships, buses, and in the hotels. One steward on a ship in the Mediterranean in 1998 asked about the beliefs of the Church because the steward noticed that, “Other people on cruises have dull eyes and glazed expressions. But people on this cruise have eyes that look into their souls.”  There may be no way of knowing if the individuals serving the choir became members of the Church because of their contact with choir members, yet they probably learned something more about the Church and the lifestyle of its members after being with the choir.
As the Tabernacle Choir’s reputation has grown over the past century, they have received an overwhelming number of invitations to tour and perform throughout the world that cannot all be honored.  When choir leaders begin to plan a tour, they evaluate the invitations received. The possibilities are presented to members of the First Presidency, who make the decision based on where they think the choir could do the most good for the Church.  Each of the European tours has had a purpose beyond performing music to appreciative audiences. Three tours in particular demonstrate how the choir combined their concerts with other important gospel functions.
The first European concert tour lasted seven weeks as the choir toured several countries in 1955. In addition to their scheduled concerts, President David O. McKay invited the choir to provide music for the groundbreaking of the London Temple and the dedication of the Swiss Temple. This tour was significant because it was the first international tour and through it many Europeans were introduced to the Tabernacle Choir and its sponsoring organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Almost all the concerts were performed to capacity crowds, and all received favorable reviews in the media.  Since the first European tour, the choir has continued to fill concert halls with appreciative audiences throughout Europe.
Another example of using a tour to accomplish more than one goal was the 1973 tour. President Harold B. Lee had invited the choir to perform for a Church area Conference in Munich. Several other important projects were combined with that assignment during the tour. In England the choir recorded choruses from Handel’s Messiah with the Royal London Symphony Orchestra and filmed two British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) productions. During much of the tour, the choir was also involved in filming a documentary program about the Church and the choir by Lutz Wellnitz, a German television producen While the scheduled concerts for this tour only took place in Munich, Paris, and London, the documentary filmed the choir performing at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, the Linderhoff Castle, and also on the stage that houses the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany. 
One purpose of the 1991 eastern European concert tour was to provide an opportunity for the Church to make a good impression in many countries which had been closed to religion for decades. Elder Russell M. Nelson, who traveled with the choir, said that the planning of the tour began long before the Berlin Wall fell down in 1989 and that the tour was “part of the Lord’s plan to preach the gospel to the people of the worid.”  Choir president Wendell M. Smoot stated that the major objectives of that tour were to acquaint people with the Church, strengthen Church members, and generate interest in the Church through media coverage and the concerts. 
Before the Tabernacle Choir goes on a concert tour, advance publicity about the choir and the Church goes out to the communities to be visited. This is accompanied by newspaper articles or radio and television features occurring at the time of the visit. Over the years, media attention has increased for the concert tours.  When the choir first traveled to Europe in 1955, the Church wasnot well-known, nor was the choir. Herold L. Gregory, president of the Berlin Mission at the time, stated that the missionaries andChurch members tried to publicize the concerts but with limited success.  In recent years, however, the publicity for the choir concertsand subsequently for the Church has increased many times over. For example, the media played a significant role in the 1991 eastern European tour as described by Michael Otterson, the Churchs Public Affairs Department director of U.S. and International Development:
For one hundred million television viewers in the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, the first spark of knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came through the 1991 tour of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Without overstatement, the same is true for tens of millions more in the nations of what used to be known as the Eastern Bloc. . . . Beyond all expectations, the Choir provided the pivotal event—the springboard—from which it became possible to tell millions of people, for the first time, something of the story and the fruits of the Restoration. 
In many European countries, the Church has not always had a positive image in the media because its beliefs are often misunderstood. However, during and after the choir’s visits, the media often reported very favorable critiques and included something of the history and doctrine of the Church. Reports from the 1982 tour to northern Europe state that numerous newspaper articles, radio interviews, and television programs came as a result of the tour.  The Church’s public Communications director for Sweden wrote in a letter, “We have had a historical media event in Sweden through the Choir,” and, referring to a particular newspaper article, “This is absolutely fantastic. I have never read anything as positive about Mormons as this critique.” 
Perhaps no tour has received more publicity and media involvement than the 1998 southern European tour. Iain B. McKay, director of International Media for Bonneville Communications, stated that European media are “very sophisticated. . . . Yet in city after city, country after country, the choir’s concerts were given major treatment.” Wherever the choir appeared, there were numerous interviews of choir personnel, news stories on television, radio, newspaper, and documentaries filmed about the concerts. Many choir members involved in the interviews said they were blessed in being able to communicate in other languages. In addition to the television, radio, and newspaper stories, the concerts on the 1998 tour were broadcast live or taped for later use by national and international television and radio stations, meaning that the choir’s music could be heard by literally millions of people throughout the continent. Iain McKay summed up the medias influence on making the choir and Church more visible to the people by saying, “Talk about coming out of obscurity! Undeniably it was the Spirit of Heavenly Father that did it all.” 
The broadcast of many European concerts, particularly those of the two most recent tours, has allowed the influence of the tours to affect many people who were unable to attend concerts in person. For example, a family visited Hungary with their returned missionary son in June 1993, where they met a woman who had recently joined the Church. They later received a letter from her which they forwarded to the Tabernacle Choir president Wendell Smoot. In the letter, the woman states, “One day in March 1992, I switched on the TV Hungarian Program 1 and they were just showing the Mormon Choir’s performance in Hungary. . . . There were short interviews with some of the choir’s members. The way they spoke had a great effect on me.”  She desired to learn more about the gospel and later joined the Church in Hungary.
The Tabernacle Choir has to place major emphasis on the preparation and execution of music for the concerts or the purpose of enhancing the image of the Church in foreign countries cannot be met. The choir is different from other musical organizations because of the longevity of its existence, its size, and the volunteer status of each of the choir members. Another reason for its uniqueness is that the people involved in the choir all share a common philosophy and focus in their lives, which enables the Spirit of the Lord to communicate through them to the audience.  The choice of music sung in concerts often reflects the beliefs as well as the talents of the musicians.
Jerold Ottley stated that in programming a concert tour, he chose music that shows the choir’s abilities to perform music of various styles. The concerts include selections from the classical choral repertoire, culturally specific songs associated with the countries visited, and also pieces that allow the Choir to demonstrate its own unique history. This music includes typical American folk tunes, African-American spirituals, and hymns or songs that express the Church’s beliefs, such as “Come, Come, Ye Saints” or “I Am a Child of God.”  International audiences also have appreciated songs sung in their own languages when the choir performed music that was significant to each country. For example, in Prague during the 1991 tour, the first encore was a Czech folk song that had been banned by the communist government for many years. When the choir began to sing this song, many in the audience wept. 
Prior to coming to a Tabernacle Choir concert, many audience members probably knew little about the choir or the Church. As Dr. Ottley and choir members can attest, audiences have to warm up to the choir and its music.  Many people come with skeptical looks on their faces, but by the end of the concert the audience usually rises to their feet to give a standing ovation. Most of the concerts do not end until several encores have been performed, including the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Be with You till We Meet Again.”  The concerts are an opportunity for individuals to be touched with the Spirit, learn more about the Church, and, in spite of language barriers, communicate through music the expressions of love for each other and for God.
There are many examples of experiences that show how the concerts touch individuals’ lives. Two events from the most recent European tour (1998) are noted here. Just ten days befo re the choir was to perform in Marseille, France, only 150 concert tickets hadbeen sold. Choir and Church leaders talked of canceling the concert but then decided to continue as planned. The area’s missionaries focused their energies on publicizing the concert with thousands of handbills and posters, and by encouraging Church members to bring their friends. Through their extended efforts, and in spite of the earlier concerns, nearly 2,000 individuals attended the concert, including many who were not members of the Church. The concert has since been called “The Miracle of Marseille” because it revitalized the missionary work and members there. After the concert, missionaries were able to find a number of people who were willing to listen to their message because of the presence of the choir. 
Another important concert took place in 1998 when the choir sang in El Escorial, Spain, a four-hundred-year-old palace. In order to perform in the basilica, a special invitation from the king’s organization, Patrimonio, must be received. Musical groups not associated with the Roman Catholic Church are rarely invited because of the religious significance of the basilica. However, due to several years of preparatory work by Ron Horton, a Church member who had lived in Spain and knew members of Patrimonio, the choir was invited to sing there. The concert was filmed by Spanish television before a private VIP audience consisting of leaders from thecommunity and the Catholic Church.  Several months after the 1998 tour, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the area Presidency told choir members that the image of the Church had improved in Spain, as demonstrated by media interest later that year for other events surrounding the building of the Madrid Spain Temple. 
Each of the European tours has facilitated the development of good relations between the Church and the communities the choir visits Choir concerts and receptions for civic and church leaders provide opportunities to mingle with Church and choir personnel promoting greater understanding. Two particular examples are the 1982 northern European tour and the 1991 eastern European tour Diese tours had interesting challenges and opportunities in helping the Church become more well known and accepted in the countries visited.
The 1982 northern European tour had unique opportunities for building bridges between civic and church leaders because the United States ambassadors to Norway, Finland, and Sweden were then all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the ambassadors’ support in hosting concert receptions, choir personnel, church, government, and civic leaders all forged lasting ties of friendship. For example, King Olaf of Norway attended the choir’s concert in Oslo, as did many other important civic leaders in several other countries. 
Denmark has had a special association with the choir over many years. During the 1982 tour, the mayor of Copenhagen, who was not a member of the Church, provided a special luncheon for the choir and other guests in gratitude for their presence in Copenhagen. It may not be mere coincidence that broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word were first aired in Denmarkin 1982. In addition, Kent Gade Oleson, a Dane who also was not a member of the Church, is an enthusiastic Tabernacle Choir supporter and founded the “Danish Tabernacle Choir Society.” This society is a 500-member group which helps distribute choir recordings and ensure that broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word are available throughout Denmark and other European countries.  The Church had come full circle in northern Europe from the mid—nineteenth century when it was viewed as a sect and its members were persecuted. 
The 1991 tour to eastern Europe was perhaps one of the most significant tours because of the historie events surrounding the tour. Choir personnel stated that when they first began planning the tour to the Eastern Bloc countries, those countries were still under communist rule. The Church and choir leaders worked through the countries’ governments to gain sponsorship and permission to perform in each country. Many plans had been laid, but the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, coupled with the fall of the communist party in many countries, meant that new sponsors and government contacts had to be found. 
Adding to this somewhat precarious situation, the Gulf War broke out in early 1991, causing concern about the safety of international travel. When choir leaders were wondering whether to cancel the tour, choir president Wendell M. Smoot contacted President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency. President Hinckley desired time to make a decision, and when he next saw Brother Smoot he stated, “The Choir will go to Europe this coming summer. The war will be over.”  Choir members and leaders knew that a prophet had spoken and that the Lord wanted the tour to happen.
In several of the Eastern Bloc countries the Church had only recently received recognition and permission for proselyting missionaries. Elder Nelson accompanied the choir on the tour and was instrumental in creating understanding between the community leaders and the Church.  One significant way the choir was able to acquaint these countries with the Church was through receptions and dinners given for government officials and civic leaders. individuals because of their high standing in the community were able to gain favorable impressions of the Church through these events. For example, Iain McKay, representing Bonneville Communications during the planning stages of the tour, was assigned to two Russian State Television representatives, a husband and wife. As the tour unfolded, they became impressed and interested in the cnoir ana the Church, and they traveled to Utah to film a documentary about the Mormons. In May 1993, Brother McKay was able to watch as the wife was baptized by her husband in Moscow, a direct result of their contact with the choir. 
Each choir member is set apart as a musical missionary and is required to demonstrate worthiness of a temple recommend every year in order to maintain their appointment in the choir. In effect, choir members are in the service of the Lord when they open their mouths to sing. Their lifestyle and actions while on tour reflect their testimonies of the restored gospel and their callings as missionaries. For this reason, choir members are asked to dress appropriately throughout the tour: women in skirts or dresses, men in slacks.
The choir members take their commission to be musical missionaries seriously. Choir leaders establish a missionary committee for each tour. The committee provides materials about the Church, such as articles of Faith cards or pamphlets, that choir members take with them to share with people. In addition, they purchase many of the choir’s own recordings to give as gifts while mingling with the audience after concerts or at other times on tour. In 1998, the choir members carried approximately ten thousand CDs andtapes on tour. Sharing choir recordings with audience members isone way to communicate with others even when different languagesare spoken. This interaction with the audiences allows choir members an opportunity to show their friendship and love for the gospel and often results in referrals for the local missionaries.  One Church member took her nonmember cousins to the 1998 concert in Geneva, Switzerland, and later wrote to the choir directors, “One cousin who loved the concert said that he was so impressed with the kindness and friendliness of the choir members as they visited with the audience. . . . I hope that the choir members never underestimate the impact this one-on-one encounter has on those attending the concert.’ 
Another important dimension of a tour’s missionary focus is the strength they provide for the members of the Church in each area visited. Church members in foreign countries may never be able to see or hear the choir except during a concert tour in their area. Elder Cook told the choir in 1998, “We greet you . . . with the greatest appreciation for the impact that you have had on the members of the Church whom I think stand a little taller because you were here.”  The choir often provides firesides or other events free of charge in addition to the regular concerts so that Church members can attend. By seeing the choir perform, Church members may feel a greater connection with other members throughout the world.
Herold L. Gregory, administrative assistant to the choir president, shares an interesting example of the strength the choir can bring to the members. At the time of the 1955 tour, he was the mission president of the East German Mission, headquartered in Berlin. The city of Berlin was the only link between the western world and eastern Europe. President Gregory asked the choir to travel to Berlin, knowing that many of the five thousand East German Saints couldcome to Berlin to hear the concert and might never have another opportunity to come in contact with the larger Church. 
The Lord’s hand was evident in the way arrangements were made for the choir to perform in Berlin. Miracles occurred as visas were obtained to enter Berlin, and the United States government allowed them to travel by military train across East Germany. President Gregory said the most memorable event was the choir’s arrival in Berlin’s train station:
As they descended the stairway into the hallway, the Berlin District Choir . . . burst into a lusty rendition of “Let the Mountains Shout for Joy.” During the second half of the anthem, the members of the Tabernacle Choir joined in, and the old station literally quaked. . . . The singing was in two languages, yet there can be no doubt that the music was in one language, the language of the heart. . . . To me, those few minutes at the station were as important and glorious as the concerts themselves. 
While President Gregory did not state that many baptisms resulted from the choir’s visit, he said that the testimonies of Church members were strengthened. Although these members were isolated from the rest of the world, they felt connected to the Church.
Because of its prominence and worldwide acceptance, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has provided a means whereby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could become more well known and respected in many European nations. Although the general purpose of a choir tour is to share the music and talents of its members, the choir is also a vehicle through which the Church’s image can be enhanced. The four dimensions of the choir’s European tours discussed here—namely, the publicity, concerts, connections between church and community, and the choir’s missionary efforts—demonstrate the power the Tabernacle Choir has had in building bridges and strengthening the Church in Europe.
 Michael Otterson, “Tabernacle Choir Tours Pacific,” Ensign, September 1988, 77.
 Jerold D. Ottley, interview by author, Salt Lake City, 15 October 1999.
 Gene R. Cook, “Comments to Tabernacle Choir in Lisbon, Portugal—July 1, 1998,” transcript, Tabernacle Choir office, Salt Lake City.
 Four similar dimensions have been previously noted by Jay M. Todd in his reports of the choirs 1991 and 1998 European tours. See Jay M. Todd, “An Encore of the Spirit,” Ensign, October 1991, 32–53; Jay M. Todd, “A Company of Angels,” Ensign, October 1998, 30–37.
 Much of the information for this paper was provided by the Tabernacle Choir office, and from personal interviews with choir leaders: Wendell M. Smoot, president; Udell E. Poulsen, business manager; Herold L. Gregory, administrative assistant; and Jerold D. Ottley, former music director. In addition, some personal experiences of the author and other choir members are given as a result of the author’s participation as a choir member in the 1998 European Tour.
 Wendell M. Smoot, “Its Like Moving a Medium-Sized Town,” Ensign, October 1998, 37.
 Personal experience of the author, Lisbon, Portugal, 1 July 1998.
 Todd, “A Company,” 34.
 Ottley, interview.
 Wendell M. Smoot, interview by author, Salt Lake City, 8 October 1999.
 Warren John “Jack” Thomas, Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir Goes to Europe—1955 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1957).
 Doyle L. Green, “The Tabernacle Choir: 106 Years of Missionary Singing,” Ensign, November 1973, 84—88. Tabernacle Choir historical record for August 24–25, 1973, Tabernacle Choir office, Salt Lake City.
 Gerry Avant, “Choir Leaves Trail of Joyful Tears,” Church News, 6 July 1991,3.
 Ibid., 9.
 See Iain B. McKay, “Media Challenges,” Ensign, October 1991, 46–47; and Iain B. McKay, ‘Tve Never Seen Anything Like It in 20 Years!” Ensign, October 1998, 35.
 Herold L. Gregory, interview by author, Salt Lake City, 28 January 2000.
 Michael Otterson, “Media Story for Tabernacle Choir Tour,” in The Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir Historie Tour to Europe and USSR, June 8—29, 1991: Public Affairs Media Accounting (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 1991), 1.
 Memorandum, from Jerry P. Cahill to President Oakley Evans and Heber G. Wolsey, “Report on Tabernacle Choir Trip,” dated 22 June 1982, Tabernacle Choir Office, Salt Lake City.
 Letter to Norman R. Bowen from Hakan Palm (no date), included in a memorandum from Norman R. Bowen to Patrick Coppin and Jerry P. Cahill, dated 9 July 1982, Tabernacle Choir Office, Salt Lake City.
 McKay, ‘Tve Never Seen,” 35.
 Letter to Wendell Smoot, dated 16 August 1993. In possession of the Tabernacle Choir Office, Salt Lake City.
 Ottley, interview.
 Ottley, interview. See also Jay M. Todd, “An Encore of the Spirit,” 48—52; and Todd, “A Company.”
 Todd, “An Encore,” 46.
 Ottley, interview.
 Todd, “An Encore,” and Todd, “A Company,” 32.
 Todd, “A Company,” 37; Cook, “Comments.”
 Ottley, interview; Poulsen, interview.
 Dieter E Uchtdorf, comments to the Tabernacle Choir at general conference, October 1998. The author was present, but there were no typewritten minutes available to choir members.
 Tabernacle Choir historical record for 9 June 1982, Tabernacle Choir office, Salt Lake City.
 Richard Jenson, “Choir Greets Kent Oleson, Number-one Danish Fan,” Keeping Tab, April 1989, 3.
 Dorothy Stowe, “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Tours Northern Europe,” Ensign, September 1982, 78–80. Poulsen, interview.
 Gregory, interview; Poulsen, interview.
 Todd, “An Encore,” 43.
 Todd, “An Encore,” 36.
 Letter from Iain B. McKay to Jerold Ottley, dated 17 May 1993.
 Todd, “A Company,” 34.
 Letter to Jerold Ottley and Craig Jessop from Geneva B. Pincock, dated 8 August 1998, in Tabernacle Choir on Tour: Opening Hearts and Doors, 1998 European Concert Tour (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 1998).
 Cook, “Comments,” 1998.
 Gregory, interview. See also Thomas, 202–5.
 Herold L. Gregory, quoted in Thomas, 203—4.