Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Special 9/11 memorial performance

Former NBC news anchor is guest narrator for program
Published: Friday, Sept. 2, 2011

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On that horrific day 10 years ago when passenger aircraft commandeered by terrorists destroyed New York City's World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with another plane crashing in Pennsylvania in an aborted attempt to inflict further damage, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was scheduled to present a private concert in the Salt Lake Tabernacle to a business convention. It hastily became a public memorial service, as President Gordon B. Hinckley responded to the occasion, speaking as part of a program filled with several patriotic selections by the choir.

Three days later, the choir performed at two memorial services conducted by the First Presidency in the Tabernacle in observance of a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Nauvoo Bell on Temple Square tolled for three minutes at noon.

Another memorial service featuring the choir would follow a year later on Sept. 11 in the Tabernacle, as the nation was still recovering from the shock, pain and grief of what became known in the collective public consciousness as "9/11." Again, the Nauvoo Bell tolled its memorial.

Now, for the 10th anniversary, Sunday, Sept. 11, the choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square have prepared a special 9/11 memorial performance of their nationwide radio and television broadcast "Music and the Spoken Word."

Tom Brokaw, who was anchor of the "NBC Nightly News" from 1982 to 2004, is guest narrator on the pre-recorded program, which highlights how Americans have risen above the loss and grief of that day.

Mack Wilberg, music director for the choir, said, "As much sorrow and grief as came from 9/11, there have also come positives. In this program, we wanted to show how the indomitable American spirit turned a tragedy into a triumph of coming together and caring and serving. The message of this show is that, as individuals and as a nation, we can find healing and strength in adversity and literally rise above all the negatives."

Brother Wilberg described guest narrator Brokaw as "gracious, charming and a privilege to work with." He added, "It was kind of fun that 'Shenandoah,' one of the songs in the program, is a favorite of his."

The special program, titled "9/11: Rising Above," will be broadcast on approximately 750 stations and networks in the United States and Canada. A large number of the stations, (including many NBC network affiliates) will be carrying "Music and the Spoken Word" for the first time. Air times and station information can be found at www.musicandthespokenword.org or by checking local listings.

KSL-TV and KSL Radio, the program's originating stations, will air it several times on Sept. 11, and BYU Broadcasting has planned an extensive airing schedule on its various outlets.

Tom Brokaw hosts a music and the spoken word special performance in remembrance of the 9/11 tragedy.

Typically, "Music and the Spoken Word" is broadcast live, but this special program has been pre-recorded for presentation on Sept. 11. Mr. Brokaw's segments were recorded at an Aug. 21 closed session in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, said choir general manager Scott Barrick.

Those who come to Temple Square on Sept. 11 to view a live presentation of "Music and the Spoken Word" will be able to see a program that is being recorded for later airing, Brother Barrick said. Optionally, attendees will be informed that they can go to the North Visitors Center on Temple Square to view a screening of the 9/11 special program with Mr. Brokaw, either at 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m., he added.

Here is a list of selections to be performed on the special program: "Shenandoah," "For the Beauty of the Earth," "Lullabye ('Goodnight, My Angel')," "Homeward Bound," "Amazing Grace" and "God Bless America."

In a brief video promotion on the program's website, Mr. Brokaw says, "The choir's music and everyday Americans tell how our nation has risen from the ashes of tragedy to meet the new challenges of the 21st Century. Mark the 10th anniversary of this tribute to the American spirit, "9/11: Rising Above."

rscott@desnews.com