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Gerry Avant, Deseret News
On their way to a concert during their tour to Europe in 1998, several members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir walk past one of Geneva's landmarks.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will make its first tour beyond North America in almost decades with an announced trip to Europe in the summer of 2016.

The 360-member choir and 200-member Orchestra at Temple Square, both sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will perform in eight cities from June 27 to July 16. During those three weeks, the tour features performances in Berlin, Nuremberg and Frankfurt, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; Brussels, Belgium; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Paris. Venue and ticket information will be announced later.

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson voiced his support for the tour in a statement released Thursday.

"I am pleased that as president of the Church, I have the privilege of being the adviser to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Our goal is for the choir and its companion Orchestra at Temple Square to be a shining example of the musical arts to all the world," President Monson said. "With the announcement of this European tour, I am delighted that these noted ensembles will have the opportunity to touch the hearts of people in multiple nations through their magnificent music. This tour will be an important step forward as the choir and orchestra continue to build bridges of friendship and understanding across the globe as ambassadors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Ron Jarrett, choir president, said one of his top goals was to see the world-renowned choir perform overseas again.

"Through social media we have been able to reach audiences far and wide. Now with this tour, we are thrilled that for the first time in nearly two decades, international audiences will be able to enjoy the music of the choir in person," Jarrett said in a press release. "With the challenges of today’s world, we are excited to share the joy and peace the music of the choir brings, which knows no boundaries of age or nationality."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed in cities around the globe, from Israel to Russia and Japan — as well as for the inaugurations of six presidents of the United States — since its first tour outside Utah in 1893.

The choir first journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean for a two-month tour of Europe in 1955. Since then, the choir has performed in western and central Europe in 1973; northern Europe in 1982; central and eastern Europe in 1991 (including Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Russia); and southern Europe in 1998 (including England, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal), according to the LDS Church News.

A full complement of the Orchestra at Temple Square began accompanying the choir on tours in 2005.

The choir and orchestra recently returned from a tour along the Atlantic Coast. The two ensembles traditionally embark on a tour every two years, so Thursday's announcement came as a surprise, Jarrett said.

"It was a very emotional and heartfelt reaction," Jarrett said in a release. "The choir and orchestra members are all volunteers and literally dedicate their lives to blessing the lives of others through music. This is more than a dream come true for them; it is a humbling, well-deserved honor."

The choir performs each week in the world's longest continuing broadcast, "Music and the Spoken Word." Currently, the choir is working on a full-length recording of Handel's "Messiah," which will be released in March 2016 prior to the European tour.

For more information on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and its 2016 European tour, visit www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/tour.

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