It was also fun to see, he says, "how easily they made friends all along the way: the hotel management, the maids that made up their beds, the restaurant servers. "The way they were always reaching out to people was very impressive."
Even more than physical stamina, however, he was impressed by the choir members themselves and their sense of mission.
"They love the music; they absolutely love it. And they love sharing their gift of music with others."
They are not just average musicians, says Bell. "They are the cream of the crop; they are remarkably talented people. And they sacrifice long days, give up vacations, do whatever it takes to be able to share the music."
They know that not everyone can come to Salt Lake City, and so every other year, they take their gift out to the world, he says.
"Their love of the gospel, their love of the Savior is part of the motivation," Bell says. "But they also have a great appreciation for the power music has in people's lives."
And despite long days, despite often having to wait in line at rest stops and restaurants and to get into elevators, "I never once heard a complaint, never once heard a murmuring word. I was amazed at how well everyone got along: 600 people, moving 2,200 miles in 14 days and close quarters. But they showed nothing but love and support and kindness for each other."
The choir sings the songs of love, and of the Savior and of wonderful principles, Bell says. "They truly practice what they preach in song."
He will not be going along on this year's tour, but he hopes there will be a future opportunity. "I'd go again in a heartbeat," he says. "There are more stories to be told."
The tour adds to a "very busy summer" for the choir, says Wilberg. They will get back in time to jump right into the Pioneer Day Concert, then they will be doing a Tanner Gift of Music concert with the Utah Symphony and then it's time for another general conference and another Christmas concert.
What they do, they do without monetary compensation and without complaint, but with lots of love.
Whether it is doing a special concert, going on tour, recording a CD or presenting the weekly "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast, nothing is taken for granted.
It is a deeply felt honor and privilege, Wilberg says, "to share our music with the world."
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