Can check this one off the "things to do in life" list

So this last weekend was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concert and after pretty much committing mail fraud I scored some tickets (thanks Mom and Dad!!!). I went on Friday night with GH, Spitfire, and a coworker of GH's who just moved to UT this fall and has never seen the choir perform.

And here's the thing: this year the guest singer was Brian Stokes Mitchell. I was going to kill and eat people if I didn't get in to this one, because I have loved that man's voice for years, ever since I first heard him in Kiss Me, Kate. And then in Ragtime. And then some more in Man of La Mancha. I tell you, his voice is so pure and deep and righteous that when Savvy was a screetching baby she would quiet down upon hearing it. Because she gets it.

So here are some jotted highlights/impressions from the evening:

Sat in the balcony (so about 8 miles up) and watched as standby people were ushered in to the nice cushy front-section seats behind President Monson and within range of the tractor beam of Brian Stokes Mitchell's grin. Maybe should look into standby next year instead of mail fraud.

BMS, I must say it, was kind of a Broadway geek, but I'm going to insist that it was an a charming and lovely way. He seemed very, very excited to be singing with the choir. And several of the Motab women seemed to be very, very excited to be sitting behind him, if you know what I'm saying. I think I saw one lady lick her lips.

Brian Stokes Mitchell arranged some of the songs they sang. Yeah he did.

And at one point he walked over to a piano and started playing it and singing at the same time. I half expected him to look straight up to me, raise an eyebrow, and intone, "Oh yeah. That just happened."

Now for a lesserlight: You remember how I've discussed the people of UT with their dogged devotion to giving standing ovations to absolutely anything that even remotely resembles a cultural offering. Well, they've learned a new trick. They now give standing ovations at the end of every song. I shall call this The Jack-in-the-Box, and it will probably send me to an early grave.

BSM sang "Through Heaven's Eyes" from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack (yeah, that bit was him and not so much Danny Glover) and as soon as it was over this balding gentleman in front of us shot up out of his seat and started clapping furiously. I nudged GH and gestured to the guy with a WTH? expression. GH whispered, "He really liked that cartoon."

I saw that several people chose to ignore the age requirement of 8 years old and instead bring their 5 year olds who were bored to tears. Nice one, cheaterpantsess.

Also, I may be struck by lightening for this but I have to tell you about the costumes. Oh my WORD, the costumes. In the beginning they always do this big processional where dancers and singers and little kids and things come out. Like one year little kids came out to "Light a Torch" and they were all carrying little torches and lighting each other's torches and generally looking precious enough to eat with a side of Nutella. And usually the costumes have something to do with the song, or where the song is from, or what the theme of the concert is.

This time the theme was "Ring Christmas Bells" and the processional song was "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and the costumes were From Hell. The boy dancers were wearing some sort of gold tunic-with-sash-over-Aladdin-pants thing, and the girls had these big long flowy white dresses with ruffly necklines and scary-trash ribbon bustiers. I have no idea where they were supposed to be from, but I'm guessing something Eastern Europterrasianish. There was no clue in the program or anywhere else.

The only truly, truly sad part of the evening--sadder even than the costumes and the part where the people around me stood up for everything (except the "Hallelujah Chorus," go figure)--was that my sister Jenny got sick and couldn't come. We had been so excited to see this together. We were going to squeal and smacked each other on the legs and stuff when The Voice came out. Spitfire was an excellent seat partner but did not seem to appreciate being smacked when BSM began singing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (arranged by him, btw) just before I passed out cold and landed on the 4-yr-old in front of me.

But yeah, it was a great night, and afterwards we walked around and looked at the lights on Temple Square and came back to my place for banana pudding.

To understand what I was getting so hyped up about, check out this clip from when Brian Stokes Mitchell sang with the choir back in October. Have a paper bag handy.


Jenny said... [reply]

I am experiencing extreme joy for being ranked higher than the hideous costumes. I may rise from my seat and start clapping.

shelbs said... [reply]

Haha. When I was first reading this, I thought you were referring to the Elizabeth Smart kidnapper- similar looking name if you look real fast.

I cant' believe you didn't write about our epic family christmas party.

Anyways. My mom was curious if you and your lovely husband would like to come over next Sunday, the 21st at 4:30 for dinner. Erik and Debbie and their cute kids will also be there. And I'll bet it'll be a real party. Haha.

Let me know.

alishka babushka said... [reply]

i was lucky enough to get tickets on the floor...they were amazing. i was 8 rows from BSM himself! He was slightly cheesy, but oh so wonderful my boyfriend thought i was crazy with all the sighs coming from me during the entire concert.

also...the jack in the box bothered me. a lot.

goddessdivine said... [reply]

Yeah, I didn't go this year. I feel blessed to have gone the last three. I usually go with the folks, but turns out this year was not so good for mom.

I did see some of it Sunday AM on TV. I liked his voice, but one song they chose was too weird for my taste. And I really didn't like the arrangement of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'. Agreed on the costumes for that one. What the crap?

People should bring BC's for their children to prove they are at least 8. Some people just suck (that, and they're too lazy to get a babysitter.....it's the whole 'bring the infant to the movies' syndrome).

Gretchen said... [reply]

An obvious end result of praise inflation. When you start giving standing ovations to everyone and their dog, then when something is actually good you are at a loss and end up doing ridiculous things like standing at the end of every song. I suppose this will now become common practice and the next step will be just standing through the entire performance? Maybe we should be SO MOVED we just stand up before it's over and leave completely and go home because it's the only response left that hasn't been cheapened. Yah, that would be great. They should all start doing that for me. Maybe even before the performance starts... ;)

Nemesis said... [reply]

Yeah, goddess, did not so much love The Friendly Beast. I mean, it seems like a sweet song, but I'm sitting here thinking, "Forget the SHEEP! I want to hear THE VOICE!!!"

Nemesis said... [reply]

Okay, just watched the Music and the Spoken Word from Sunday. Cannot believe they went with Friendly Sheepvoiced Beasts instead of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (see: sliding off chair).

Bad call, choir. Bad call.

BEFore said... [reply]

Now I have to go hunting for a clip to a song I actually like. Good voice though -- and I've heard elsewhere that the concert was great.

Back in L-town we were doing the annual food pantry benefit concert; and had no less than 2 mid-concert standing ovations. I was thrilled to NOT be the only one in the choir sitting down (still clapping) and even more when one of my friends in the audience "confessed" that she had done the same. But the audience did know to stand during the Hallelujah chorus -- so that's something.

Search win!

CoolBoy said... [reply]

Oh yeah!
I took my roommates to the "Music and the Spoken Word" edition of this. Except that it lasted like 2 hours instead of 30 minutes, and at the end Mack Wilburg sat down at the piano and started playing "Impossible Dream" so Pres. Monson could hear BSM sing it. It was pretty cool. We were in the front section.

amyjane said... [reply]

This concert is the one thing I miss the ABSOLUTE MOST about living in Utah. And you, of course.

Zannah said... [reply]

I just realized now why I enjoyed seeing Ragtime so much, although I feel like a dork for not being up on the amazingness of BSM.

Chillygator said... [reply]

I went Friday and Saturday and was a little baffled at standing after every song on Friday (though that organ solo was pretty dang cool) and expected it again on Saturday. Not so. Not a single standing ovation.

We had two seven-year olds in front of us. They were not terribly impressed to be there, either.

I liked the animal song a lot better the second time around, but, they cut out Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring for it? No way. SO not comparable. I'm excited to get the CD for that one.

erin said... [reply]

I went on Saturday night and there was no jack-in-the-box effect. There was, however, the "I think I will wear jeans and a scruffy hat because I can" look.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Okay, you are right about BSM. I watched the clip and I suddenly feel a wonderful urge to go and attack a windmill.

"Praise inflation." Oh. Spot. On.

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

I hate you, just a little, right now. I'm a HUGE Broadway geek, and I have loved this man's voice for years. There were almost tears just watching the YouTube clip. I can only imagine my complete loss of composure had I seen him live.

chosha said... [reply]

Wow. I would love to see him in a musical. Beautiful, beautiful voice.

Spitfire said... [reply]

That's why you hit me? Oh. I was so confused. . . I thought maybe you wanted me to move my arm off the armrest or something. But when I looked at you and you were smiling I just didn't get it. Instead thought that maybe you had terretz?

he.he. Thanks for letting me join you, sorry I couldn't offer the enthusiasm that only Jen can really display :)

Anonymous said... [reply]

We must have gone on different days - I went on Saturday night, and had slightly different experiences than you did - though I laughed hard at the ones you put, relating to many of them!! Can't believe that about the standby line!! We had the same problem -were up in the right corner of the balcony (BTW - did you notice that the only way OUT of the balcony was by going down the stairs straight to the outside, or by taking the elevator or escalator, where you could wait as much as 30 minutes in line!!) Then - lucky us - we were parked on the third floor of a parking garage, which took another 45 minutes to get out of. Sheesh - Have to start wondering if it's worth it! I can see that the balcony people are derfinitely pee-ons... Also, had no sound for 1/2 the performance - something was wrong with the speakers - we didn't realize it until they suddenly popped on 1/2 way through it. I was wondering why I was having to lean forward in my seat and try to hear! Grrr - next year - I'm doing the mail fraud thing and I better get better seats or I might have to take a gun with me and take out some friendly old people who try to stop me from the lower sections. :) (just kidding - that's a joke!!) No crazy mormon here.

daltongirl said... [reply]

We took our two Chinese nieces to the Christmas Devotional, and I was worried people would think they were five and six, because they are tiny. But they really are nine and twelve. So maybe all those five-year-olds really just have Asian heritage. But probably not.

I really liked that Danny Glover cartoon, too. Probably would have stood for that.

Instead of requiring people to leave their children home, the Conference Center should require every attendee to complete a concert etiquette course and certify that they know how to behave and that they will behave. Then they'd leave the kids home on their own AND stay seated.

Lesley-Ann said... [reply]

Oh Steph I love the way you right, have you ever thought of doing it for living? You are probably going to tell me you do, won't I look stupid? I hope you are well and excited for Christmas. X

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