In 1849, a group of Welsh pioneer immigrants headed west from Iowa across the American prairie, passing the time, as the Welsh do so naturally, with singing. Led by John Parry, a minister and musician from Newmarket (now Trelawnyd) in North Wales, the music charmed and enchanted their fellow travellers, who promptly asked where this group had learned to sing and who had taught them.
Their eventual destination was a remote frontier settlement in the Great Salt Lake Valley, deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Soon after arriving there, Parry was asked to formally organize the ad hoc group into a more permanent ensemble. And so this band of Welsh singers, with Parry as their director, formed the nucleus of what would become the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
More than a century and a half later, the celebrated Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel retraced, in a sense, Parry's journey from the green hills of North Wales to Salt Lake City. And, though Bryn's career takes him all over the world, this particular excursion was singular. On his visit to Utah in the spring of 2013, Bryn brought with him those very gifts that Parry's Welsh singers had carried with them to the same place so many years ago: a love of music, a powerful strength of spirit, and a heritage to celebrate in song.