TORONTO, Ontario — Professing "there is no finer choir in all the world" than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson welcomed invited guests to the final concert of its summer tour.
Speaking at a reception prior to a concert Monday evening in Roy Thomson Hall, President Monson said that when he became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2008, he appointed himself as adviser to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which includes the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells on Temple Square. It is, he said, one of his favorite assignments.
"The choir goes on tour every two years, and I've been privileged to attend the final concert of the 2009 tour and now the 2011 tour," he said.
He said that he and his wife, Frances, often attend the choir's weekly presentation of Music and the Spoken Word.
"I do not hesitate to profess that there is no finer choir in the entire world, and in combination with the Orchestra at Temple Square, their music is magnificent," he said.
President Monson surmised that most of the guests have probably listened to recordings by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or have seen performances on television.
"Until you've experienced a live concert, however, you cannot appreciate all that they have to offer," he said. "As your fellow Canadian Hana Gartner (one of Canada's top journalists) said of the choir when they performed in Roy Thomson Hall in 2007, 'The sound these men and women create is not just music to the ears. You also hear it with your heart.' If you have not before experienced one of their live concerts, prepare for an unforgettable experience."
President Monson said told the guests, which included national, provincial, religious, civic, education, business and community leaders, that coming to Canada was much like coming home. He explained that his family lived for three years in Toronto, headquarters of the Canadian Mission over which he presided from 1959-1962.
President Monson observed that in the 52 years since he first came to Ontario, the area has grown almost beyond recognition.
"Our church has also grown by leaps and bounds during the same time," he said. "Worldwide, we have over 14 million members, with 30,000 congregations. Five hundred of those congregations are in Canada. I understand that the United Nations, five times in a row, has designated Toronto as the world's most ethnically diverse city. The Toronto Ontario Stake, which I was privileged to help organize in August of 1960, reflects the diversity of the city, with services held in English, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Farsi, Korean and other languages."
He lingered after the reception to greet dozens of people. He shook hands and posed for photos with many of those who attended the reception.