President and Sister Nelson, Tabernacle Choir to Highlight RootsTech Events

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 17 January 2017

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will open this year’s RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, and President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Watson Nelson will headline Family Discovery Day.

Article Highlights

  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will open this year’s RootsTech family history conference.
  • President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Watson Nelson will headline Family Discovery Day.

RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, convenes February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, with some attractions that have special appeal for Latter-day Saint viewers and attendees, including a concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the day-long Family Discovery Day featuring the family of President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The concert, featuring the choir and its sister organization the Orchestra at Temple Square, will transpire at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, February 9, in the Church’s Conference Center.

Titled “Music—It Runs in the Family,” it is being billed as “an evening filled with Rodgers and Hammerstein music and stories.” The event will be narrated by Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II, half of the legendary songwriting team. Special guest artist Dallyn Vail Bayles will also perform.

RootsTech attendees will receive tickets with their conference registration, but the public is also invited and may obtain free tickets online at the Church’s website, lds.org/events.

According to the choir’s blog, the concert will feature music from many of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway shows, including State Fair, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, Oklahoma, and The Sound of Music.

“The presentation will tell the amazing history through story and video of the Hammersteins, one of Broadway’s most creative and productive families, and how this timeless music unites generations,” the blog states.

The program will also tell about families who have been part of the choir for generations.

“The beloved songs of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II will warm the hearts and lift the spirits of both old and new generations,” said choir president Ron Jarrett. “We are thrilled to be part of this program narrated by Andy Hammerstein with insights into the life and work of his grandfather. It will also be a treat to welcome back one of our favorite guest artists, Dallyn Vail Bayles.”

President Nelson, with his wife, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, will take the stage two days later, Saturday, February 11, at the Salt Palace in the headlining attraction for Family Discovery Day, which is a free, one-day event for Church members and their families.

During the one-hour session, the Nelsons will share family stories. They will also be inviting members of their family on stage, including some of their more than 150 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Included in the speaker lineup for Family Discovery Day are Kalani Sitake, Vai Sikahema, and Hank Smith.

Brother Sitake is the head football coach at Brigham Young University. He played at BYU as a fullback and was an assistant coach for the Oregon State Beavers and Utah Utes before taking the BYU position.

Brother Sikahema is a former NFL football player and a current television anchor and sports director and sports reporter for NBC10 in Philadelphia.

Brother Smith is a BYU professor of religion and a popular speaker who addresses public school assemblies around the country. He has published many talks on CD and speaks to tens of thousands of youth each year.

“There is something about temple work that unlocks our own personal gifts,” he said.

Regarding families, he said, “Family means fun. Family means experience. It means learning, friendship, and love.”

Family Discovery Day features inspiring messages and interactive activities for all ages. The RootsTech Expo Hall will be open to Family Discovery Day visitors, where they can discover the latest technology, products, and services in the family history industry.

Families with children and youth can discover the fun of family history together by playing games such as Family Feud and Twisted Family History.

“Family Discovery Day is the perfect place for individuals and families to discover helpful family history technologies and mingle with hundreds of exhibitors from around the globe,” according to RootsTech organizers.

“Select sessions are also available for those with Church callings and responsibilities related to family history and the temple. Individuals will be able to get their questions answered, discover new tools, and learn best practices.”

More than 15,000 adults and children attended Family Discovery Day last year. But it is not necessary to attend in person to experience Family Discovery Day. Events will be streamed live on LDS.org and the Mormon Channel.

Those who wish to attend in person should register as quickly as possible online at RootsTech.org. The free tickets will be available as long as they last. Those who wish to attend the concert only can reserve tickets at lds.org/events.

The schedule is 1:00 p.m. for the opening general session, 1:45 to 4:30 p.m. for concurrent sessions, and 5:30 p.m. for the closing event, which this year features a cake decorating competition. All attendees will receive a slice of cake. (See related article.)

If you can’t watch live on February 11, videos of the messages from Family Discovery Day will also be archived at lds.org/discoverfamily for later viewing in the following languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.