World-renowned LDS Pianist David Glen Hatch Tours South Africa
By Sister Karen Belliston
A “Classical Music Extravaganza” was advertised, and that's what was delivered as USA's David Glen Hatch & Co. toured South Africa and dazzled large audiences of piano lovers in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. Dr. Hatch, an international concert pianist and recording artist from Orem, Utah, brought along seven of his award-winning, advanced students, ranging in age from 14 to 27. They are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group was hosted by the Church but traveled to South Africa at their own expense.
Fingers flew across the keys as Dr. Hatch and his students performed classics by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and others. Shows were held in Linder Auditorium, Johannesburg, on August 9; Chatsworth Youth Centre, Durban, on August 10; and Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium, Cape Town, on August 13. At the beginning of the concert in Durban, new wheelchairs were given to disabled members of the community. This gift of wheelchairs was sponsored by Lotus FM radio and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition, at the request of American Consul General Earl R. Miller, the pianists also performed at the United States Consulate General in Sandton on August 2 as part of their welcome to South Africa.
David Glen Hatch spoke at four special firesides (informal Church gatherings) held at LDS chapels while on this South African tour. Members of the Church believe that “...If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (13th Article of Faith--Joseph Smith). Dr. Hatch spoke about the healing balm of music and shared experiences where uplifting music has touched people's souls and changed their lives. With great feeling, he and his students bore their testimonies through music as they played such religious favorites as How Great Thou Art, The Lord's Prayer, and I Am A Child of God.
The accomplished students who accompanied David Glen Hatch were Marianne Dymond, Ammon Bratt, Lauren Adja-Park, Derek Banks, Cortney Pace, Greggory Ellis, and Nathan Smith. These seven students have lofty goals of becoming world-famous concert pianists. The youngest member of the group, just starting high school, said he practices the piano two hours before school and two hours after.
On tour, the eight pianists kept a tight schedule of practicing, performing, holding firesides, and traveling. But one can't travel 9,000 miles to Africa without experiencing a safari! They squeezed in a trip to Kruger National Park headed by Sean Donnelly, public affairs director for the Africa Southeast Area of the Church. They greatly enjoyed this unique opportunity to snap close-up photos of elephants, rhinos, zebras, and other animals in the wild.
The concerts were well received in all the communities of South Africa. A music store owner in Johannesburg commented that he enjoyed the excellent classical music, especially Hatch’s performance of Adagio in B Minor by Mozart. “It was amazing!” he said. Interestingly, for South Africa, the performers received a standing ovation for their two-piano/eight-hand, rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever.
All members of the group expressed appreciation and joy for the experience of visiting South Africa, and all voiced the desire to return. Residents who were privileged to listen to their difficult etudes, impromptus, and rhapsodies would agree that music is a gift from God. Dr. Hatch is correct in saying that music speaks to the soul. “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” (Victor Hugo).