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

Top Stories


Dodoma City Commissioner Shekimweri and FEET director Benard Mwanawile in Dodoma Tanzania 16 Nov 20...
Madison Swenson

Church donates 74,000 fruit tree seedlings to Dodoma region of Tanzania

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated 74,000 fruit tree seedlings to the Dodoma region of Tanzania, and local leaders are thanking them for it. 
2 days ago
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)...
Madison Swenson

Three Church structures in SLC to undergo renovations

The Beehive House, the Lion House, and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will be undergoing renovations beginning in 2023.
5 days ago
Exterior of the San Juan Puerto Rico Temple. The temple’s architecture is inspired by the Spanish...
Madison Swenson

First temple in Puerto Rico opening to the public

The San Juan Puerto Rico Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opening its doors to the public beginning Dec. 1.
6 days ago
The Tokyo Japan Temple seen from the Arisugawanomiya Memorial Park in Tokyo on Sunday, July 3, 2022...
Madison Swenson

Locations of 6 international temples released

The locations of six new international temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been released.
6 days ago
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)...
Madison Swenson

First Presidency of the Church releases 2022 Christmas message

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a Christmas message.
9 days ago
Elder Rich, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is shown check-in ins...
Madison Swenson

Church opening six new missions in 2023

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that they will be opening six new missions overseas in 2023.
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Second Annual Mormon Arts Center Festival Has International Flavor