Tobi and I took advantage of the three-day Memorial Day weekend for a quick trip to visit my friends in Utah.
While we were there, Tobi got the bright idea that he wanted to go hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform. (He can be such a Japanese tourist sometimes. I honestly think he was born with palm-sized digital camera in his hand. And, yes, it's one of the reasons I love him.)
We figured out that the best way to see the famous choir in action was to go to the Sunday morning "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast. In case you don't know, this broadcast moves to the Conference Center on North Temple during the summer. In the winter it takes place in the Tabernacle. (I think it has to do with the summer tourist crowds.)
I don't know if I'm the only person who's noticed this, but the conference center seems to be the realization of the "great and spacious building" from Lehi's dream in The Book of Mormon. Not only is it gargantuan, it has terraces that overlook the recently uncovered City Creek and hanging gardens on the roof. Go back and read the description in the BoM and compare it. Seriously.
[While I'm on the topic of architecture, I have to say that Salt Lake has some pretty interesting examples that range from amazing to embarrassing. My personal favorites are the new public library (I want to move in), the Tabernacle, the Temple, the Moran Eye Center and the old library on State Street, next to the Alta Club. The biggest architectural embarrassment is the overtly phallic LDS Church office building, with its two large globes flanking a tipped tower.]
Anyway, on Sunday Tobi and I walked into the Conference Center. I was wearing sandals because I didn't pack any dress shoes, and of course there's the small issue of my goatee. Tobi was his usual adorable self. No one hassled us exactly, but we did get a little more attention from security than the other folks walking in the front door. It's a Utah thing (or just xenophobia). Mixed-race couples are not very common in Utah.
The program inside the Conference Center had a Memorial Day theme, and consequently there was a bit of flag waving. The Temple Square Orchestra accompanied the choir. I thought of Peter Danzig and his wife who last year would have been on stage with the orchestra. Too much information. I tried to focus on the music instead of the unfortunate political purge.
Overall, I felt a sense of contradiction. I was glad to show Tobi a little bit of the culture that produced me, but the experience was bittersweet for me. It was probably the unreasonable scale of the building that caused me to feel this way. You shouldn't put an orchestra in a hall the size of four airplane hangars. :- )
[BTW, the flowers on stage were hideously arranged, and I'm just being objective here, not critical. Memo to the powers that be: orange and fuschia zinnias are all you get when you're mean to gay people.]
To make a long story short... the choir did its thing, and we escaped back to our natural habitat: brunch at the Oasis Cafe (151 S 500 E, SLC).
P.S. Here are a few Japanese restaurant recommendations, which are the result of Tobi's digging around. Takashi (18 W Market St, SLC) is probably the best Japanese restaurant in Salt Lake. A less expensive but still excellent alternative is Kyoto (1080 E 1300 S, SLC), which is also very authentic.