SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — All last week, heavily loaded semi-trailers and smaller trucks headed out of Salt Lake City moving east to Toronto and Cleveland with three wide-body jets following on Thursday in order to meet up with 11 large buses as part of a carefully developed logistics plan that had been two years in the making.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for chartering large aircraft and sending semi-trailers packed with emergency goods for disaster relief. However, last week’s loads did not include relief items such as food, hygiene kits, water and blankets. These trucks were loaded with musical equipment, wardrobe, luggage, sound equipment and even a traveling organ.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square started their summer tour Thursday, with planned stops in Toronto, Canada; Chautauqua, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“We are very excited about this tour,” said Craig Jessop, music director of the choir. “Thousands of people come to Salt Lake City to witness the choir and Orchestra on Temple Square every year, so our tours are really our chance to return the favor and to bring the choir and orchestra to them!”

Spectators look forward to the performances, but many are unaware that moving the choir and orchestra with all the necessary stagehands through seven cities in a two-week period is not a simple task.

“People don’t realize what it takes to send out 572 members of the choir, orchestra, support personnel and a few brave spouses,” says Barry Anderson, administrative manager for the choir. “It’s like a big puzzle coming together at the last minute.”

Adding a border crossing to the summer tour brought a whole new set of challenges for the planners. “At one point we thought we were going to have to assign the choir and orchestra members traveling in 11 buses into alphabetized groups to cross the border (between the United States and Canada),” added Anderson. “Fortunately, we didn’t have to do that.”

For the tour members, the border crossing meant they could only take one carry-on -size piece of luggage into Canada. The large suitcases belonging to each of the 572 tour members take up one semi-trailer truck alone.

Choir publicist Michael von Rosen laughed as he commented on how the customs agents might react to that one truck full of luggage. “Can you imagine the truck driver’s reaction when he is asked by the border agent, ‘Do you know the contents of these bags and did you pack all of these on your own?’”

The luggage truck will catch up with the choir at their first United States stop.

The tour repertoire will feature a great variety of works, including selections from choral classics, patriotic music, and famed songs from Broadway and Hollywood, as featured on the choir’s latest release, Showtime!

This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.