The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang the songs of the famous duo Rodgers and Hammerstein and were joined by Oscar Hammerstein II’s grandson, Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, as well as singer Dallyn Vail Bayles in demonstrating through song and story that music “runs in the family.”
Andy Hammerstein told stories from his family history throughout the concert while video clips allowed members of the choir, both past and present, to share stories of their own.
Before the choir’s rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Choir Director Mack Wilberg shared that “one of the reasons the Mormon Tabernacle Choir continues to sing much of his music is not only is it timeless but so much of it is what you would call ‘inspirational.’” Former Choir Director Craig Jessop proceeded to share a personal experience with one of Hammerstein’s songs.
“One Sunday morning after the broadcast in the summer, an usher came up and said, ‘Would you mind saying hi to this couple,” Jessop explained. “And the husband had obviously been crying. He couldn’t speak, and the wife said, ‘We just had to thank you for the miracle that happened this morning in the Tabernacle.’ She said, ‘My husband hasn’t been to church in five years. He’s been angry at God. He hasn’t cried. He hasn’t grieved. Our son committed suicide five years ago.
“I had to drag him here this morning. I had to say, ‘It’s not a church, it’s a Tabernacle.’ And we had on the program that day, 'You’ll Never Walk Alone,' and when he heard those words, ‘When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the road is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark. Walk on through the wind. Walk on through the rain though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.’ And that released his soul.”
Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir also shared how music runs in their own families in a video.
“My mother told me today...that my grandfather worked a second job so that she could have her piano lessons,” current choir member Mary Wells Chaffin said. “And she’s an amazing pianist, and that’s why I sing. It just makes me so proud of my grandfather because he worked two jobs so that music could be part of her life. Because my grandfather left that legacy of it being so important, it was important to us. And now, my kids are going to see that it’s important to me. ...It’s the constant, when things go sideways in life, you’ll always have your music.”
Following the video, members of the choir were asked to stand if one of their ancestors or relatives were members of the choir. The question brought the majority of the choir to their feet.