Vai's View: Extra innings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
They sang "Fly Eagles Fly," but they didn't chant "E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!!" at the end, which I realized isn't on the music sheet but is something fans just added on their own. So, I told Jessop that it would be a major faux pas if they didn't do that in Philly.
They did it perfectly, even pumping their fists just as Eagles fans do. And Andy Reid led them. It was wildly successful. So much so that since '03, many of the local radio stations use a recording of it every year as "bumps" in and out of commercial breaks during the NFL season.
Despite the choir's rather austere, button-down reputation, as a group they were fun and playful with me at their rehearsal. The orchestra even played along as I "acted" out playing a violin and faked leading the music to an empty Tabernacle an hour before the choir arrived. The men's section was full of sports fans, including my cousin Sione Ika, the lone Tongan in the choir. Sione was a section leader in the BYU marching band when I was playing at BYU in the '80s, so it was a sweet reunion.
The piece we edited for my Philadelphia TV station was lighthearted and intended for a sports audience, who otherwise wouldn't be interested in the choir's performance.
I don't know if the publicity I provided helped, but I do know the choir's one-night concert in Philly was performed to a full house and I've read some of the comments from community leaders and opinion-makers who attended the pre-concert reception and the concert, and it was overwhelmingly positive.
The experience of "performing" with the choir — even in rehearsal — gave me a greater appreciation for their remarkable talent and the power of their music.
Do yourself a favor sometime this weekend, preferably on Monday after the fireworks. Pop into the CD player Mo Tab's signature song: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Or play it on youtube. Dim the lights. Then, crank the volume to 9 or 10. Works better if you have surround sound. Then sit back, close your eyes and appreciate the fact you don't live in a monarchy, as I did as a child. We can be anything our industry, education and hard work allows us to be. Let the power and majesty of the music and voices permeate your soul. Let it lift you. When it's over, express gratitude to your maker for the blessings of America!
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