Musical exchange allows for 'sharing of gifts' between Mormons, other faiths
“I don’t think I’d have my job on Temple Square if I hadn’t been a cathedral organist,” he said. “Ultimately it’s been a positive experience for me in which I have grown spiritually and musically.”
Student organists are just the tip of the iceberg for BYU performers at St. Mary's. Eldredge has roots at BYU, where she completed her undergraduate degree and taught for eight years. Now she spends part of her time scouting out current or former BYU students who are willing to sing or play for St. Mary's church. Sometimes these positions are paid and other times students are volunteers. So far, violists, oboists, vocalists, cellists and those who play the French horn have assisted in liturgies.
A six-person interfaith choir just wrapped up six weeks of performing at St. Mary's. Logan Bradford was among those who performed.
Rehearsals and singing at the service were held right before Bradford's LDS sacrament meeting, which he said was an ideal way for him to prepare to worship. He said he was impressed by how welcoming the leaders and members of the congregation are.
"We more or less kind of became temporary members of their congregation. They grew to love us and we grew to love them," he said.
In addition to giving musicians a way to gain experience and earn a little money, the performances provide an interfaith experience that Eldredge says is vital for coming together as a community.
"You don't have to look very far to see (that) not every spire in Utah County is an LDS Church spire," she said.
For Eldredge, the musical exchange provides an opportunity for understanding other religions in the community. "This isn't an us (vs.) them. This is an us."
In addition to bringing in worship music, Father Van Hook hopes to attract aspiring musicians for recitals and performances. St. Mary's became one of few venues for musical performance after the destruction of the Provo Tabernacle and its subsequent conversion into an LDS temple. He admits he is not a musician, but said he has been told that the acoustics in the chapel are ideal for performances.
“It’s a sharing a gifts, not a matter of belief,” Father Van Hook said.
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