Oregon Deacon Is Concert Organist
Most musicians don’t take up a new instrument and play a concert tour nine months later—especially if they’re 12 years old. John Mitton, a Salem, Oregon, deacon, started on the piano at five and added violin study at six. It wasn’t until September 1974 that he went to work on the organ, but he proved so adept that he spent last summer touring Europe, giving more than 50 concerts.
John, accompanied by his teacher, William Fawk, traveled throughout Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Denmark playing the works of Bach, Purcell, Lubeck, and others.
In Austria, John played at the 10th century Abbey of Seckau near Vienna, and his concert was broadcast throughout the country. He was also a guest of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and attended music classes where they were studying a Beethoven mass. John was invited to return and play a concert with the Choir this summer at the Imperial Chapel. In Palermo, Italy, one of the cathedral directors took away the wine glass customarily given organists, noting that a “Mormon organist,” as John was referred to throughout his tour, wouldn’t need it.
John and his teacher were honored at a dinner given by the U.S. Consul General of Italy before a concert at the six-manual organ at the Monreal Basilica. Throughout his tour John received invitations from music professors as well as the public to return for additional concerts.
Prior to his tour John got some good experience playing before an audience as the Salem Fourth Ward Primary organist. He also played at many Church meetings and community programs. John also plays the violin in his school orchestra and keeps up his piano study.
But music doesn’t occupy all of John’s time. He’s studying Spanish. He’s a ham radio buff and substitutes frequently on a paper route. Last summer John and other Salem Scouts did a 50-miler, camping five days near the beach and hiking out every day. Of course, music was one of John’s first merit badges.
John’s interest in music is part of a family tradition. His great grandfather, Samuel Bailey Mitton, was a tabernacle organist, and one of his compositions, “Awake! O Ye People, the Savior Is Coming” is in our hymnbook. His mother, the former Ewan Harbrecht, was a soloist with the Tabernacle Choir and toured Europe 20 years ahead of John. Sister Elizabeth, 17, is a violist; brother David, 15, is a cellist and bass guitarist; and Esther, 6, is following John on the piano and organ.
John is planning on serving a mission for the Church. He also would like to study organ on the college level and perhaps teach someday. Motivation is no problem for him. “Playing the organ is a challenge; it’s also a rewarding experience. My parents and teacher never have to make me practice. I do it because I know I’ll get better. Having the opportunity to tour Europe is a real incentive in itself.”
Last summer John and his family visited Salt Lake City and met Tabernacle organists Alexander Schreiner and Roy M. Darley and former director of the Tabernacle Choir J. Spencer Cornwall. Brother Cornwall told John that he was endowed with a great gift and must be humble and grateful because it is a gift from the Lord.
At home in Salem, John is practicing baroque pieces two hours a day on his stake center’s organ in preparation for this summer’s concert tour. He’s looking forward to playing some of the world’s most magnificent organs as well as enjoying some of his favorite foods—bratwurst, Wiener schnitzel, and pommefrites, the German version of an American favorite, French fries.
California Beehive Girl Makes Big Splash
Californian Melanie Rile added to her burgeoning list of swimming accomplishments by winning gold medals in all ten events she entered in a two-day invitational meet in La Mesa, California.
The Indio, California, Beehive captured gold medals in the 50-, 100-, 200-, and 500-yard freestyle events, the 50- and 100-yard butterfly races, the 50- and 100-yard backstroke competitions, and the 100- and 200-yard individual medleys. Her performance was an encore after winning gold medals in the three events she chose to enter in the Southern Pacific Association—AAU Junior Olympics in Long Beach.
Melanie, who has been collecting medals and trophies since she was four years old, has accomplished most of her feats several times over. At the age of ten Melanie’s meet times are among the ten best in the nation in no fewer than nine different events. She has won so many awards that the only ones her family keeps on display are the considerable number of trophies earned as the high-point performer at important meets.
Although swimming occupies a great deal of her time throughout the year, Melanie finds time for other pursuits as well. She has qualified for two President’s Physical Fitness awards. She also turned out for an all-city track meet last year and won the 440-yard event, which helped earn her the award as her school’s outstanding athlete of the year.
Melanie is only one of four swimmers adding to the virtual mountain of awards filling the Rile household. Eighteen-year-old Richard is swimming for Riverside City College this year after setting several records as captain of the Indio High School swim team. Richard was the school’s outstanding swimmer last season, and swam as a member of a relay team that set a national AAU record.
Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Rile was one of the first girls in the nation to win a spot on a high school swimming team, earning a varsity letter at Indio High as a freshman.
And, not to be overlooked, seven-year-old Becky won high-point honors in the six-and-under division of the Inland Empire League a year ago.
Oregon Youth Is Top Accountant
Greg Copeland has proved himself capable of minding his own business.
The Oregon priest won the national accounting competition sponsored by the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). As an honor student at Rogue River High School, Greg took the Southern Oregon Region title and moved on to win the top state spot. At the FBLA convention in Miami, Florida, Greg vied with top business students from every state to capture the national title. Another highlight of the Florida trip was a cruise to Nassau along with other convention delegates.
Greg served as president of the deacons and teachers quorums in the Grants Pass Oregon First Ward. He was also an assistant to the president of the priests quorum and chairman of the bishop’s youth committee.
Eagles Soar in Utah Family
When Scouting becomes a family affair, good things happen. At a Court of Honor held recently in Hurricane, Utah, three brothers received their Eagle award—Deward, 18, Keith, 15, and Ronald Stout, 14. Their older brother, Dennis, is also an Eagle Scout. All are active in their priesthood quorums.
According to Scouting officials, the odds against four Eagles in one family are 52,000 to 1.
When the new Scouting program was introduced, Ronald was an 11-year-old Tenderfoot. He made up his mind then to become an Eagle. His enthusiasm was catching, and his brothers Deward and Keith began to work with him toward the same goal.
“We had a lot of fun earning those 24 merit badges,” says Ronald. “One thing I like about it is the happy memories we can look back on. Now my goal is to see how many more merit badges I can earn before I’m 18.”
Spokane MIA Maid Pitches for Victory
Close isn’t good enough—especially in horseshoes—for Kelly Jean O’Brien.
Kelly is the new junior girls Horseshoes Pitching World Champion. The Mia Maid president from Spokane, Washington, won her title in LaFayette, Indiana, by defeating seven other girls in the final competition.
Kelly won her state title twice, at ages 12 and 13. She took third place in the world competition in Eureka, California, two years ago. This year, at 15, she worked her way up through all the intermediate contests and qualified for the world pitching at LaFayette. To win she had to pitch against each of the other finalists once. She plans to defend her title this year in the junior girls’ division at Bristol, Pennsylvania, and then compete in the women’s world title bracket in 1977.
Kelly started pitching horseshoes when she was 11 years old after watching a neighbor pitching in his backyard. Kelly is a self-taught student of the game and practices every day during the summer. Now she plays three or four matches a week in club competition.
A convert to the Church of two years, Kelly throws 60 percent ringers, often pitching five or six in a row. Her best string is 16 straight.
Window Washers Par Excellence
Washing windows can be pretty routine—unless there are 50 of them, five-by-eight feet, and they line the facade of the Provo Temple.
Carrying buckets and ladders the Aaronic Priesthood youth and Young Women of the Oak Hills Second Ward in Provo headed for the temple early on a Monday morning, when the building was closed. After a prayer meeting in the temple’s guest waiting room, the group was welcomed by Bishop Blaine Houtz, Provo Temple engineer.
Soon the young men were atop ladders, reaching the window tops, while the girls worked below. Often dissatisfied with the finished product, the young people would completely redo the windows until all streaks, smears, and water spots vanished.
It took less than three hours to finish the job, but the final results will be seen for months. Bishop Houtz added that even more impressive than the shiny windows were the attitude and behavior of the Provo youths.
Spread the Word
Regardless of where you live, 1976 will mean a year full of service projects, unusual youth activity nights, Super Saturdays, and seminary outings. For young Latter-day Saints in Florida it might include trips to the beach while their counterparts in Wisconsin try skiing on fresh powder snow. The New Era would like you to share your activities with LDS youths and tell others what’s going on in your ward or branch.
Remember the who-what-when-where-why-and-how of your activity and send along any black and white photographs with negatives or send color slides. (Instamatic-type prints do not reproduce well.) Be sure to include the names of other young people who participated as well as some of their comments on the project.
Also you might be on the lookout for outstanding young Church members who excel in specific areas such as geology, ceramics, golf, or kite flying or friends who have some good tips on babysitting or needlepoint, and let the New Era know. We are always looking for articles on a wide range of interests to youth.
Send your articles and photographs to: New Era, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Be sure to include your name and address with the material.
The Faith of Young Mormons arranged and compiled by George W. Pace Communications Workshop Provo, Utah, $3.95, pp. 71
As a youth Brother Pace struggled with a great question—what sort of a person should he be? The insight came that he should be the kind of person who can most effectively bring others to our Heavenly Father through Christ. He describes this moment of insight as a great spiritual “breakthrough.” This book, a compilation of reflections from students in Brother Pace’s religion classes at Brigham Young University, tells the stories of youth who have caught a “glimpse of the beauty and power of the gospel.”
“Why prepare a book about the faith of young Mormons? Because perhaps the most frequent questions I hear from our young people are ‘Can I really change?’ ‘Can I free myself of my bad habits?’ ‘Can I really know who the Lord is?’ ‘Can I receive personal revelation and the quickening power of the Spirit?’ Our young people are tremendously encouraged when they discover that among their peers there are those who are ‘breaking through,’ those who are sensing the greatness of ancient and modern prophets, those who are learning for themselves who the Savior is, those who are excited about the real power of the Holy Ghost in their lives.”
The book consists of 14 encounters with faith written by young students. Writing styles vary from poetry to exposition, each expressing the conflicts, struggles, and eventual triumph of faith.
Their struggles and triumphs are very real. One girl, faced with the assignment to pray, writes of her struggle to bend her “stubborn knees.”
“It was fifteen minutes before I could speak. If there really is a God, could he please let me know? I prayed like the woman who asked for the mountain to be moved and who, seeing the mountain intact the next morning, said, ‘I knew it wouldn’t work.’
“No heavenly messengers appeared; no visions manifested themselves; no inner voice acknowledged my completion of the assignment … (but) I think somebody heard me.”
Accounts of other youth “breaking through” can be of special help in moments of doubt or concern over the state of your testimony. Those youth acquiring or buttressing up a testimony will find The Faith of Young Mormons a helpful building tool. As Brother Pace wrote, “Their papers speak for themselves. The Savior is real; we can know him and be as he is. He does change lives.”
“A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, a History and Commentary by Robert J. Matthews Brigham Young University Press $12.95, pp. 468
“I resumed the translation of the Scriptures,” wrote Joseph Smith in 1831, “and continued to labor in this branch of my calling.” (History of the Church, 1:238.) The Prophet considered his inspired revision of the Bible an important part of his calling. Joseph’s resulting revision, the Inspired Version, published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, naturally holds great interest for members of the Church. But until recently the original manuscripts were unavailable for examination, and many members of the Church have questioned the reliability and significance of the printed editions.
In this work, Dr. Robert J. Matthews, an associate professor of ancient scripture at BYU, brings together 25 years of intensive research on the Inspired Version.
He attempts to answer such questions as: What is the purpose of the translation? Was it finished? Has it been published accurately? Permitted to inspect the original manuscripts, Brother Matthews examines these and many other questions.
The book is exhaustive. Divided into two sections, “The Story of Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible” and “Doctrinal Contributions of the New Translation,” the 20 chapters encyclopedically discuss every facet of the translation.
The history and method of translation of the work are covered in detail. After examining Joseph’s work during the translation and comparing the various manuscripts, Brother Matthews even examines the work of committees from the Reorganized Church who prepared the manuscripts for publication.
In dealing with doctrinal contributions of the Inspired Version, the book is again comprehensive. There are chapters discussing the nature of God, man, and Satan, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and other fundamental doctrinal topics.
Of obvious interest to serious students of the scriptures, the book contains information formerly available only in several different publications. Designed and useful as a reference guide, Brother Matthew’s book gives a definitive and thorough background for using the Inspired Version.