“Harmony Was on the Program,” Ensign, Oct. 1991, 72–73
As ward public affairs director, I wondered what I could do that would encourage understanding and improve communication for the Church in our area of Ohio. “What do all churches have in common?” I wondered.
Softly my answer came—music. We could organize a classical and religious music program that involved the whole area, and open our building to the public for the performance.
I contacted leaders in all the churches within ten miles of our ward. Ten churches agreed to participate. We worked together to find musicians willing to perform free of charge. Gradually the community music program we had started began to grow and include people from all over the county.
We advertised the Community Musical Arts Festival heavily. Copies of a large poster were displayed in the various churches and on our local town bulletin board at the square. The newspaper printed a story about our program a month before the performance and a second story and photograph two days in advance. A ward member made a large sign, which we put up in front of our meetinghouse a week before the program.
Everything went well the night of the festival. Two men from our ward, dressed in tuxedos, greeted the two hundred guests and passed out programs. Our experienced master of ceremonies helped the program move forward smoothly. The entire show was videotaped for future reference.
The first performer, who played his hand-crafted dulcimer, was followed by pianists, soloists, duets, and a quartet. Other performers included a person who played a bagpipe solo in full Scottish dress; a German couple who sang folk songs in their native language; and a blind eighty-year-old who played hymns on his saxophone. Songs by a choir from the Catholic church concluded the festival.
Afterward, Jim Wohlwend, the director of the Catholic church’s local choir, commented, “You know, even three years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to gather the community together for a program like this.” He was right. The sweet, warm feeling that continued when it was over confirmed not only that the festival had been a success but that we had made significant progress toward the initial goal of encouraging understanding and communication for the Church in our community.—Marlene Mackenzie, Rootstown, Ohio