Sing out Strong
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“Sing out Strong,” New Era, Sept. 2004, 21

Sing out Strong

Suddenly, the cars arrived, and the hall of the stake house was crowded with boys in straw hats covered with cookies, and girls in neon yellow, green, and orange skirts with big bows holding giant candy bars as hats. And just as quickly, they gathered in a classroom for one more run-through of their song—“Buy Me Chocolate,” which helps explain the cookies and candy bars.

Then another group walked by, all dressed in black and white with red-checkered napkins. They were humming something that sounded vaguely operatic but had tongue-twisting lyrics. Another group had swatches of cloth with an African print. They were going over some steps in a dance.

The cultural hall of the Salt Lake Hunter Stake was filled wall to wall with families from nine wards, all waiting to see each ward’s performance in the Young Women and Young Men Choral Festival. Every ward had two songs to perform: one serious song and one fun song from another country that could include some dance steps. The wards chose from religious songs that have been printed in the New Era.

As each well-rehearsed ward came on stage, the energy began to build. Everyone was ready to sing with volume and enthusiasm. But when the Mapusaga (Samoan) Ward came on (they were the ones with the chocolate song), the Caribbean rhythm had everyone moving. After that, there was no stopping them. Each ward put everything they had into their performances before an appreciative audience.

What was the best thing about holding a choral festival? “The practices were fun,” said Ashley Auva‘a of the Mapusaga Ward, “especially when we got into it. The best part was being with friends and family and dressing up and dancing and having fun.”

Kiyana Aiono said, “We did our costumes together for a Young Women activity.” Ashley added, “They look like fabric, but they’re really plastic tablecloths, so they were inexpensive. And they looked great on stage.”

Vini Purcell said, “It was fun to get to know a song from a different country.”

The teens in the Hunter 18th Ward felt the same way. They really liked learning a song from another culture. Their song had African origins. Kori Coombs said, “When I heard it I thought it was a great song. I liked the beat. Then we added some choreography, and we were grooving.”

They also really liked their serious song. Jaynie Baker said, “I like the lyrics that say, ‘Our trust remains in Thee.’ It was a good song.”

Working together during practices, it seems, was everyone’s favorite part of the festival. The Hunter 25th Ward had a song with complicated words all about pasta. The Young Women leader worked out some actions to help everybody remember the words. Laura Buckner confesses, “I thought it was the worst song in the world at first, but it ended up being fun. And yes, every time we have pasta for dinner, I just start singing it.”

Their serious song left a similar impression. Eric Manwill said, “Every day I catch myself singing ‘Behold, the Field Is White’ in my head”—a good choice for a young man preparing for a mission.

The printed program identified which Personal Progress value experiences or Duty to God requirements participation in the festival helped fulfill. Singing in a program even fills a requirement for the music merit badge.

Why have a choral festival? The youth in the Hunter stake now know it means some fun times at practices and an even better time at the performance. And the audience agreed.

Note This

Participating in a choir or choral festival helps you fulfill requirements for Personal Progress, Duty to God, or the Boy Scout music merit badge.

  • Personal Progress: Value Experience in Individual Worth

  • Duty to God: Deacon—Educational, Personal, and Career Development write-in goal; Teacher—Educational, Personal, and Career Development write-in goal; Priest—Physical Development goal 6; Educational, Personal, and Career Development goal 11.

Extra! Extra!

Hear all about it. The Church has a new music Web site. Visit www.lds.org/churchmusic to listen to hymns, download songs, or learn about music.

Photography by Janet Thomas

The participants of the Hunter stake choral festival crowd the stage after singing to a packed house.