“Student Entertainers, Athletes Captivate Worldwide Audiences,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 94
Some fancy footwork, some melodious voices, and some talented musicians created a favorable impression for the Church and its young people during the summer months as LDS student entertainment and sports teams toured the United States, Europe, South Africa, and the Orient.
The Brigham Young University baseball team recently returned from a four-city Italian tour arranged in part by Bruno Gerzeli, coach of the BYU soccer team. Brother Gerzeli, a former professional soccer player in Europe and South America, made contact with Italian baseball clubs while directing a successful BYU soccer tour in Italy. The baseball team, comprised of students from 11 countries, attracted favorable attention throughout Italy.
Young entertainers from the three Church colleges also spread goodwill through the performing arts.
Eighty-three students and advisers from Ricks College presented their “Dance American Style” to audiences in southern Europe and the Pacific Northwest during a month-long tour in April and May.
“I’m impressed that the Mormon Church has produced such a clean-cut group,” declared. Shelby C. Davies, United States Ambassador to Switzerland, after viewing a performance by the students. “My concept of Mormonism has been enlightened.”
The first BYU group to tour South Africa presented several shows in Kimberly, Capetown, Pretoria, and other cities during a six-week summer tour. Student dancers and singers combined talents with a 25-piece South African band, performing popular and novelty numbers. A reviewer in the Pretoria News claimed the entertainment to be “one of the finest variety shows—professional or amateur—this city has ever seen.”
In another “first,” the BYU A Cappella Choir, conducted by Dr. Ralph Woodward, toured Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in May. After attending the choir’s performances in Helsinki, Finland, and in Stockholm, Sweden, renowned choral director Norman Luboff praised the group’s ability. “The choir should be commended for a very musical performance of a very exciting repertoire,” he commented.
During their tenth European tour, the BYU American Folk Dancers performed in July and August at festivals in Yugoslavia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and France, and participated at the Committee on International Folk Festivals event at Billingham, England.
Both “Showcase Hawaii” (a variety group from the BYU Hawaii Campus) and a BYU drama troupe completed USO tours for United States military personnel. Well-known in Hawaii for inspirational programs, the 15-member “Showcase Hawaii” troupe toured the Orient. The 14 BYU dramatists under the direction of Dr. Harold I. Hansen performed “Fiddler on the Roof” and a number of variety acts throughout Europe in June.
Young Indian performers from BYU’s “Lamanite Generation” entertained audiences in the southern United States and upper Midwest earlier this year, and ten members of the all-Indian group performed in Europe during July and August on a USO tour.