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LDS Mongolian opera star sings with Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Published: Monday, May 13 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Buted Altangerel has sung in leading roles at the largest opera houses in Mongolia, but her biggest dream was to one day sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Now, that dream has come true.

Buted is a well-known opera singer in Mongolia. She studied at the Sofia Conservatory in Bulgaria and teaches at the Mongolian University of Arts and Culture.

It was one of Buted's students, Purev Unurjargal, who first introduced her to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1997, Unurjargal invited Buted to a church activity. She really enjoyed her visit and decided she wanted to meet with the missionaries. She was hesitant at first to tell her husband, Batbayer, but once she did she found he was happy to invite the missionaries into their home.

"I think he was prepared by God," Sister Buted said through a translator.

She and her husband were baptized on Sept. 15, 1998. They were sealed in the Hong Kong China Temple in 1999. At the time Mongolia had only a little more than a thousand members of the church.

In 2001, Buted's husband was called as president of the district that encompassed the entire country of Mongolia. Today he serves as patriarch for all of Mongolia, which now has one stake and two districts.

Shortly after her baptism, Buted was called as choir coordinator. She traveled around Mongolia, helping each ward and branch develop a choir.

Many members in Mongolia don't have a musical background, but under Buted's training they created a choir that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve called "the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of Mongolia" when he visited in May 2011. Every year the choir sings at a large Christmas pageant for all the members in Mongolia.

Linda Ford served a mission in Mongolia with her husband from 2010-2012 and served on the music committee, where she got to know Buted. Ford helped with the Christmas pageant, teaching the Mongolian choir to sing almost half their program in English, including a performance of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus."

Buted said she wasn't trained as a choir director, but Ford insists that it was Buted's skills that made the Mongolian choir what it is.

Over the years as a member of the church, Buted has watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast during general conference and has dreamed of watching them live.

"God knew about my dream," she said, and now her dream has come true. President Jay Clark of the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission helped Buted write a letter to arrange for her to visit Salt Lake City. During her visit, Buted not only watched the Tabernacle Choir but also sang with it during a rehearsal.

"It was amazing," said Ford, who was with Buted when she sang with the choir. "All the way home she said, 'I am so happy. I am so very happy.' It was so cute. She just beamed."

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