Hundreds Of Latter-Day Saint Latinos Celebrate Faith, Culture With ‘Luz De Las Naciones’ Performance

Nov 1, 2019, 10:55 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — For nearly 20 years, Latter-day Saint Latinos have celebrated their culture with a huge production, “Luz de las Naciones,” and this year’s theme is “A Home for All.”

Entering the Conference Center for dress rehearsal last Saturday, we were struck by the beauty of the people, the upbeat sounds of the music and the gorgeous costumes, all combining to create the largest cultural event of its kind in Utah and throughout The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The event is “Luz de las Naciones,” or Light of the Nations. Auditions took place in April and rehearsals started in July. This year, 1,000 performers will take to the stage representing many nations.

“Latin America, Brazil, Spain, Equatorian Guinea and what we can do to portray this year is that no matter where you are from, you can always find a home in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in His love,” said music director Israel Gonzalez.

This is a family event, as parents and children perform together in the one-night spectacular. But it lives on, recorded and sent to Latter-day Saints throughout Latin America.

There are the big production numbers with hundreds in a combined choir and in dancers on stage — and then there are the featured performers. Alejandro Melecio returns year after year and said there is just something he loves about this event and venue.

“Every time I step on that stage, I get the chills,” he said. “I feel the adrenaline, I feel grateful, I feel a lot of things and it’s because you can just feel the massiveness of it.”

As they entertain an audience, the performers also find one another. Whether these singers and dancers have lived in Utah for many years or have recently arrived, this program allows them to connect.

Rebecca Lopex Penailillo also returns as a guest soloist. “They find this circle, or group of people, who are all experiencing the same thing as them and it’s really a beautiful thing for me to be a part of that and to watch it happen,” she said.

As the skirts of their beautiful dresses swirled, their heels clicked and they encourage one another with cheers and applause. Even during a dress rehearsal, the joy these performers felt as they share their culture became contagious.

They said this is also an expression of their faith.

“Luz de las Naciones” will take place at the Conference Center at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2. It is free to the public.

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Hundreds Of Latter-Day Saint Latinos Celebrate Faith, Culture With ‘Luz De Las Naciones’ Performance