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Provided by Clay Merrill
Performers in Sacramento's Galena Street East company, which was formed by LDS Church members, aboard the USS Missouri.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Galena Street East performing group recently returned from a tour to Oahu, Hawaii, as California representatives in the 2011 Festival of States concert series.

It was Galena Street East's 39th tour. The group, created by LDS Church members Richard and Jeri Clinger, of the Sacramento First Ward, Sacramento California Stake, has been performing in the Sacramento area since 1972. Several performers are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however auditions are open to Sacramento-area youths between the ages of 15 to 18 from all faiths.

Galena Street East traveled to various venues presenting its Spirit of America program. The ensemble performed at the Polynesian Culture Center, Shriners Hospital for Children, Ala Moana Center, King Lunalilo Center, the USS Missouri and, commemorating the memorial's 70th anniversary, at Pearl Harbor.

“Our performers felt honored to meet the two youngest survivors while we were performing at Pearl Harbor,” said Jeri Clinger, Galena Street East director. Twelve of the 15 performers are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “As they thanked us for remembering, tears filled all of our eyes. This was our chance to pay tribute in song with patriotic music to those who served, fought and died for our freedom.”

As Festival of States participants, Galena performers were hosted at several Hawaiian landmarks. The group hiked Diamond Head, sailed on a catamaran, enjoyed a coral reefs snorkeling expedition at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and performed on a dinner cruise.

Beyond singing and dancing, service is a key component of Galena Street East. Members of Galena earlier this year received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, which represents over 300 hours of service to the community and world in one year.

“Being a part of Galena Street East is not just about honing skills and talents in music and dance,” Clinger said. “While we teach our young performers to excel in their talents, we also instill the desire to use their gifts to make the world a better place. We want them to see the good in the world and the world to see the good in us as Americans."

“It was great to see not only the beauty of Hawaii but to also visit places like Pearl Harbor, and to see up close these historical landmarks that mean so much to our country,” said Alexis Busath, a member of the group from Sacramento and who is also Mormon. “This tour was the perfect combination of performing for the people of Hawaii and experiencing Polynesian culture.”

Galena will be making history of its own in Sacramento during its 2011-12 season. This year, the group celebrates the 40th performance of its “Holiday Tapestry — A Worldwide Celebration" program.

“We are honored to have been a part of the performing arts community here in Sacramento for 40 years. We look forward to an amazing Holiday Tapestry this December,” said Clinger. “This group of young performers is very special, and we are thrilled for what this year holds for us.”

For information on Galena Street East, go to www.galenastreeteast.org.

Clay Merrill is the Galena Street East publicity chairman and is actively involved in the performing arts in the Sacramento area.