The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra members always receive a very detailed itinerary prior to each tour. Our 2015 Atlantic Coast Tour itinerary arrived one week prior to departure. Every moment was accounted for … except July 4th. That day was shrouded in mystery, labelled only as “private event.” All we knew was that we were departing Manhattan early in the morning (6:30 am) via bus to parts unknown, and our return was estimated for midnight. A few days prior to the big day we were told that we would be given new music on the bus to learn for the “mystery concert” that evening. Oooh, the suspense was killing us! I admit I did hear a few theories and speculations, but for the most part, we simply took a “wait and see” approach.
When it was finally announced on the buses (via video) that we were headed to West Point Military Academy, we all cheered! What a perfect place to spend Independence Day, and celebrate the birth of our Nation and the blessing of those who defend our freedom!
KSL News (local NBC Affiliate) did this nice report on the events of the day.
I particularly love the part where they show all of us sleeping in-between the sound check and the performance. Yep, that’s the epitome of choir tour life! We nap whenever and wherever we can, since breaks are few and far between. We had been up very late the night before to sing at the Yankee’s game- which turned into an exciting double header – which meant an extra late night – and then we were up and ready for a 6:30 am bus departure – so needless to say, we were all tuckered out.
I have never been to West Point, and I have to admit that all I really knew was that it is very historic, and it is very prestigious and difficult to be accepted. So, I was thrilled to be able to take a personally guided tour of the grounds and buildings.
We even got to eat in the Great Hall where all of the cadets eat (which totally looks like Hogwarts! I kept expecting Dumbledore to arrive and the sorting hat to be produced)
Everything is done with PRECISION at West Point – including how they lay out the table settings, and serve each meal!
Something that the news report left off was the miracle of the weather. When we arrived to West Point it was raining and very cold. Most of us were unprepared for the rain, so we were huddled up close during the tours. I was glad I had thrown a little red blanket in my day bag, and I used it as my umbrella & cape for the morning.
The problem with the rain was that we were supposed to be giving an outdoor concert, and it was being filmed as a TV special. None of the lights and camera equipment could be used if the rain continued. We prayed for the weather to cooperate, and sure enough, the clouds parted and the sun came out just in time for our sound-check.
The hill in front of us was quite a sight with thousands of people squeezing in to enjoy the show. One of the many beautiful moments was seeing all of the new cadets marching in and filing into the bleachers in front of our stage. There were 1200 of them, all in their dress uniforms looking so sharp and disciplined!
The weather remained clear for the evening, providing the most perfect, beautiful sunset as backdrop for the concert.
Favorite moments for me during our performance was watching all of the cadets file in, then the presentation of each flag of the Union with a cannon shot, and later when the Choir sang “God Bless America” all of the cadets stood and waved their hats and small American flags back and forth … oh, my – that gave me goosebumps, brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. God bless those sweet young people ready and willing to make so many sacrifices, to learn duty, to live with honor, and to defend our country come what may.
And of course, the fireworks were magnificent! This 4th of July will definitely go down in the books of my life as “best ever”!
On our bus ride back to Manhattan, it began to rain again. No worries, we were sleeping. – MoSop