RELIGION

Second Annual Mormon Arts Center Festival Has International Flavor

Jul 16, 2018, 5:32 PM | Updated: Jul 17, 2018, 7:25 pm

NEW YORK CITY, New York — The second annual Mormon Arts Center Festival in New York City attracted Latter-day Saint artists from throughout the world.

Some of the highlights of this year’s festival included a concert at one of the city’s iconic concert halls and the works of an artist from a southern African nation. Participants experienced art and faith of an international flavor.

The festival, titled “Explorations,” had a new location this summer at the beautiful Italian Academy on the campus of Columbia University.

Hildebrando de Melo

More than 600 attended the three-day event to participate in seminars and lectures about all forms of art.

“We’re really excited about the international representation at this year’s festival,“ said co-founder, Glen Nelson.

Kevin Giddins was a member of one of the panels, leading a discussion about the art of music.

“The Mormon Arts Center Festival is an opportunity to come together so we can share and uplift and inspire and educate and inform each other,” said Giddins. “Ministering has been an ideology for many, many years as a way to serve, as a way to give to others and we can minister through the arts.”

Scott Holden, head of BYU’s piano program performed at Carnegie Hall, playing the works of Mormon composers.

The words to the Latter-day Saint hymn “Count Your Blessings”are familiar to many, but at one presentation, “Urban Youth and Hymns for the Soul,” the performers, most from Broadway, gave it a distinctly upbeat tone.

Lita Giddins, an expressive arts therapist, was not sure what to expect at the festival.

“I am very surprised at how much I have loved this experience, how much I have felt comfortable in this experience and that I belong in this experience,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate those feeling and feeling that connected. I believe the purpose of this arts festival is to make it a more inclusive community. That’s the kingdom of God.”

This year the festival offered its first ‘artist residency’.

Scott Holden

Hildebrando de Melo from Angola created a solo exhibition titled “In Control, an Energy that Comes and Goes.” This was his first one-person exhibition in the United States.

“We found one artist who has been largely unknown to Church members,” said Richard Bushman, co-founder of the festival. “He had the unique capacity to create art in a flash. Within one week, he could paint enough to fill our little gallery downstairs. So instead of shipping the art, we shipped the artist!”

Scott Holden, head of BYU’s piano program performed at Carnegie Hall, playing the works of Mormon composers.

“They’re first-rate composers who happen to be LDS but yet were inspired by the same spiritual foundations,” said Holden. “To create is a divine thing and to be able to play music and move people and inspire them is a powerful experience, one that I don’t take lightly.”

Many attendees came from the New York area, others from around the country and some attended from Argentina, Canada, China, Kuwait and Spain.

From jamming to the Dominican Jazz Project for the adults, to the world premiere of “They All Saw A Cat” based on the Caldecott Honor book by composer Andrew Maxfield for the children, music brought them together.

They gathered to not just explore ‘the new,’ but to join together and celebrate the art that makes Latter-day Saints unique.

“We can share a common faith,” said Scott Holden, “And have so many different styles and backgrounds and means of expression and voices.”

“I think,” Richard Bushman said, “it reaffirms who we are and helps us to understand ourselves better.”

There are plans for a festival next summer and the organizers hope that this will encourage more Latter-day Saint artists to become connected to one another and share their works.

Video courtesy of Slade Combs

KSL 5 TV Live

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Second Annual Mormon Arts Center Festival Has International Flavor