With the Osmond family as special guests, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are celebrating Pioneer Day just as it should be: with joy, exuberance, nostalgia, inspiration and love.
With a concert Friday night, one tonight and a special "Music and the Spoken Word" program on Sunday, they are honoring pioneers, paying tribute to family and celebrating faith.
The concert features a selection of favorite American folk hymns, including Mack Wilberg's stirring arrangements of "They, the Builders of the Nation," "Bound for the Promised Land," "Down to the River to Pray" and "Shenandoah."
The Osmonds Wayne, Alan, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy performed a selection of their top hits, including "Down by the Lazy River," "One Bad Apple" and "Yo-Yo," as well as several of their inspirational songs: "Let Me In," "Are You up There/I Believe" and "He Ain't Heavy."
Donny and Marie do a selection of their hits, as well. Donny also sings a tender song he wrote for a missionary son, "Whenever You're in Trouble," and Marie joins the choir for a beautiful version of "How Great Thou Art."
Their career-honoring "Through the Years" brought the audience to its feet and tears to the eyes on Friday night. As did the final "Come, Come Ye Saints," when the Osmonds and the choir joined voices for one more testimony of faith.
The concert represents the final step of the Osmonds' worldwide tour celebrating 50 years in show business, and it will be the final onstage appearance for several of the brothers.
At a press conference earlier on Friday, members of the family talked about that milestone and about what it means to them to return to where it all started.
It's a tender time, said Marie. Even though she and Donny will keep performing a long-term Las Vegas engagement starts Sept. 9 and some of the other brothers will continue to work and entertain, "it will be our last show as a family."
They all talked about the importance of their family. As the only girl, "I've done a good job with them, don't you think?" joked Marie. But on a more serious note, she continued, "they are wonderful men. The best. They love God. They love their wives. They love each other. They love their faith. They say good men are hard to find, but I've got eight of them right here."
"We had to like each other growing up," added Donny with a laugh. "Of course, we got on each others' nerves now and then. Families do that. And then you throw show business into the mix. But family means everything. That belief stems from our parents' teachings. They taught us how important family is forever."
They have all worked together and taken pride in each others' accomplishments. One special moment comes to mind from the recent worldwide tour, Donny said.
"We were at Wembley Arena in England, and it was packed. I watched my brothers perform a group of songs from their album 'The Plan.' They were doing the rock 'n' roll show they've always wanted to do, and the place went wild. That was so great."
The choir and orchestra also are excited about working with the family. "We're delighted," said Wilberg, director of the choir. "The Osmonds belong to the world, but they've always had a special connection to those in this area. Tonight we will all be doing the things that we do well."
A dream come true, is how Jimmy describes the occasion. "We've been overwhelmed with the response. This is the crown jewel in our tour. We're thrilled to be coming home."
To be with the choir for a Pioneer Day concert means a lot, the Osmonds said. They talked about their own pioneer heritage ancestors on both their father's and mother's sides came to Utah and Idaho with the Mormon pioneers.
On the recent tour, they performed a concert in Cardiff, Wales. "We were there to dedicate a hospital as part of the Children's Miracle Network our mother started," said Jimmy. "And we found out that our great-great-great-grandfather had been a doctor in that very village."
Although the concert will mean an end of some things, and even though the family is getting older, "we are at a beautiful time in our lives," said Marie."This is really the culmination of everything we've done," said Donny. "It will be the end for some. Could there be a better place for that to happen?"