With the historic organ comprising a dramatic backdrop, the Utah Showcase, held the evening of 1 JUL in the LDS Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, was the cultural highlight of the 78th General Conference of the Episcopal Church. Organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, the showcase featured song and dance that exhibited the ethnic, cultural and faith diversity of Utah.
The evening began with the Kenshin Taiko drummers from Salt Lake City’s Japanese Church of Christ and a dragon dance blessing the attendees. Vocal groups included the Lux Singers from St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo UT, El Coro Hispano from the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine and the Calvary Baptist Inspirational Choir, both in Salt Lake City.
One of two dance extravaganzas was offered by the Pow Wow Family. This dance troop has Native American members from various tribes from throughout the western US. They offered a selection of traditional dances and were accompanied by a drum circle. The second dance company was the Ballet Folklorico Citlali. Dressed in traditional Mexican costumes, the men were in all white and the women in brightly colored flowing, frilly dresses. They presented an ensemble of Mexican folk dances with the men rhythmically tapping their boots as the women swayed in and out around them.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of the Presidency of the Seventy, welcomed the gathered audience to the historic tabernacle on behalf of the LDS Church. He shared with those present some of the history of the building designed by a Mormon bridge engineer and built from timber, wooden pegs and rawhide straps between 1863 & 64. Elder Clayton compared the ingenuity & strength that went into building the tabernacle as the same force that drove the Mormon pioneers west and to build such a city as Salt Lake.
The largest group to participate in the Showcase was the 220 voice American Festival Choir and Orchestra from Logan UT and the surrounding region. The chorus was founded and is conducted by Dr Craig Jessop, Dean of the Caine College of the Arts, Utah State University and former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir & orchestra performed a series of hymns, including the much loved LDS hymn, Come, Come Ye Saints, recalling the hardships of the Mormon trek west and the reward awaiting the faithful. They closed the Showcase by offering a choral benediction on the evening, The Lord Bless You and Keep You.