Multicultural choir to perform live at Semiannual General Conference
SALT LAKE CITY — The 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have live choir music for the first time in two years, and that will include a multicultural choir that will sing in the Saturday afternoon session.
Choir director Jamie Kalama Wood started auditions in January 2020. At that time, they thought the choir would sing in that spring’s General Conference.
“We thought, this is the perfect time, and then it wasn’t. But so much has happened between March 2020 and now that I can’t think of a better time to have a choir like this,” she said.
Wood had 6,000 applicants in January 2020, and narrowed those down to 360 members for April. Then they were put on hold, and when they came back, she had to narrow down the numbers even more so that there could be social distancing.
They practice with several layers of COVID-19 safety protocols as well.
Thom Reed was thrilled to still be in the remaining 180 members of the choir. He says in their last rehearsal, they all began singing “I am a Child of God” in different languages. And he was surprised to hear Japanese right next to him in the baritone section.
“The Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth, everywhere, right? How could these two guys, this black kid from Illinois, born in Japan, be standing on the Conference Center choir loft, singing in Japanese next to this white guy from Utah who is also singing in Japanese? There are so many of these stories of how this choir is touching individual members and the experiences we are having as part of the diversity we represent as well. It’s beautiful,” he said.
The multiple ethnicities and backgrounds represented truly are the Body of Christ, said Reed.
“There are refugees, there are immigrants, there are people born and raised in Utah and then around the United States, and it is beautiful to see and beautiful to hear, But even more beautiful to meet people,” said Wood.
Music manager Katie Bastian noted that the choir represents six continents, 39 countries, and at least 35 languages.
“I look at every face and know that every individual has a story,” said Bastian. “I hope that’s what the members see when they are watching General Conference and feel; that we are all in this together.”
Reed says the rehearsals have been emotional and spiritual for him.
“There’s so much power in sacred music. That’s why our leaders make it so we do have music in conference,” said Reed.
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