Last Saturday, April 17, 2010, the Church held a choir festival in Mongolia. It was really something!
The idea was ‘hatched’ about four or five months ago by President Andersen. But no one really had any idea it would become what it did when time came to perform.
Most anticipated small choirs from each branch (maybe 15 to 20 tops). But when festival time arrived, a total of 650 choir members performed from 18 branches! That’s an average of slightly more than 36 in each choir! I never saw a ward choir that large in our home stake in Utah. One Branch choir had 50 members in it!
Oh, did you noticed in the pictures the matching dress? That was something else not anticipated and certainly not requested. The members here really got into this whole idea of a choir festival!
The mission rented the large ‘pink’ theater just south of Sukhbaatar Square - for those of you who have been here, it is the one next to the Irish Pub and where the National Academy of Dance performs. A dress rehearsal was held beginning at 11:00 am that morning, closely followed by the official performance at 1:00 (ok, they didn’t actually start ‘til 1:30).
But the performance was nearly flawless! And the singing was actually very, very good (something else we don’t usually see in our Ward choirs back home!).
And the theater seating was nearly full to capacity as the 1:00 performance started. All three levels of seats (the main floor and two balcony's!
Elder and Sister Lasson (mostly Sister Lasson, really – it was her assignment) organized and orchestrated the festival – no small matter, in view of the much larger than anticipated participation. She had to continually adjust for larger than planned choir sizes.
The finale consisted of two numbers by all choirs combined (a feat in and of itself, with choir members filling the stage and standing in the isles). They sang “The Spirit of God” and “The Mongolian National Anthem”. It was quite moving, as you might be able to guess.
Oh, and we must mention one choir in particular. A very recently opened missionary area called Bulgan has just five Church members. But they participated with a 20 member choir! Yup, that means five members and 15 investigators!
All of the senior couples helped 'direct traffic', helped with the choirs between numbers and assisted in other ways where we could. But the really hard work had already been done.
Now, remember. This is an all Mongolian choir in this video. Few, if any, of them can speak more than a dozen or so words of English. This song is also not in the limited hymn book they have available here. But they learned it and are singing it -- in English. Most of the numbers were done in Mongolian but a couple of choirs did sing one song in English.
One last thing. The whole performance was recorded using the high quality recording equipment available at the theater. And the mission has now decided that it would be a good idea to make copies available on CD to every member home. You see, it would be the first and only church music available to these good members in their own language. At least most of it is in their own language! Some thing else we sort of take for granted in the States.
This was really a special event and one not soon to be forgotten.
Kudos to the choirs, the Lassons and others for a job well done!