The newspaper review read: “The audience was knocked out. The Herreys, with their pocket-size show, including both love ballads and rock music, received a long and well-earned ovation from the audience. Not to forget the two youngest Herreys who performed a number that made you think of some good American groups.”
That was printed in the Göteborg sposten, the newspaper of Sweden’s second largest city, Göteborg (population 50,000). Every year the Göteborg sposten sponsors a talent contest called “Unknown Talents.” In the 1976 contest there were 150 entries who competed for 13 places in the show. The Herreys won one of those places.
And who are the Herreys? A Latter-day Saint family who began their singing career during family home evening and at family outings.
Willy and Gerd Herrey have seven children all together, but it is the four youngest who make up the singing, dancing, and instrumental combo. Per, who plays the guitar, is 17. Marie is 15 and plays the piano. The drummer is 11-year-old Richard. The youngest is 9-year-old Louis.
They also have two sidemen who are both active members of the Church: Peter Edvinson and Rolf Hagglund.
The group plays all kinds of music from slow ballads and folk songs to current rock. Most songs are arranged by Per, who puts them into four-part harmony. Brother and Sister Herrey are always nearby to help with arranging for equipment and giving encouragement whenever the young people need it.
By winning one of the 13 spots on the “Unknown Talent” show, the Herrey family gained national attention and the opportunity to do four performances at Liseberg, Göteborg’s large amusement center.
The sixth annual Super Challenge was freckled this year with sunshine, laughter, headaches, dirt, sunburn, shaving lotion, sore muscles, jokes, learning, and testimonies. In the summer of 1976, 225 Glendale and Los Angeles youth made their plans to invade Santa Catalina Island for a youth conference they called Super Challenge. They and their 50 adult leaders were all members of the Glendale California Stake. It was the youth steering committee, consisting of Julie McGuire, Sal Palilla, Jeff Harrison, Kim Slight, Renelle Gubler, Tina Tittle, and Eric Torgeson, who spent hundreds of hours of planning to come up with all the zany and fruitful things they did. The theme of the conference, “A Generation of Excellence,” was emphasized in the first hours when two competing groups spelled excellence in human figures on the hillside.
In addition to workshops and seminars given by stake leaders, Bishop Vaughn Featherstone had sent a specially prepared 20-minute tape on his book A Generation of Excellence from which the theme was taken. The young people were counseled to “cover up cesspools and plant new gardens,” to act as though the Savior were at their side, and to enrich their lives by becoming excellent.
At a three-hour fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, 69 young people stood and bore their testimonies. Four of them were nonmembers.
The rest of the weekend was filled with basic football, crab-ball soccer, speed croquet, boat racing, swimming, rock throwing, volleyball, and treasure hunting.
The waiters at meal times were “celebrities:” the person at the table who was the most blonde, the one whose birthday was closest to July 4, etc. When the lot fell to “the tallest,” special guest speaker and BYU basketball coach, six-feet-six-inch-tall Frank Arnold, accepted the honor and served his table with the flare of a French maître d’.
What a happy time! The leaders could see it in every face, and they were sure of it the night they heard noises outside and looked to find the hillside dotted with young people singing, “I Am a Child of God.”
“Hey look, it’s really Snow White!” The awed sound rippled through the children seated in the orangish wooden bleachers on the east side of the gymnasium. And there she was—really—along with Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Goofy, Mary Poppins, and the Three Little Pigs, all romping and jesting across the high school gym floor in Kearns, Utah.
The Disney people had flown from Disneyland in California to be there May 22, 1976. Snow White and her compatriots collaborated with the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus (MYSC) to throw a party for handicapped youth of central Utah. With a smile and a song the youth greeted each other across the glossy wood floor and watched Mickey Mouse tussle with conductor Robert C. Bowden for the privilege of leading the 300-voice choir and 100-member orchestra.
The symphony and choir gave a concert for the children that included many favorite Disney movie songs: “When You Wish upon a Star,” “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” “I’m Wishing,” “With a Smile and a Song,” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.” After the concert the Mormon Youth, Goofy, Snow White, and Mickey Mouse personally met and talked with the children and shared cookies that had been baked by the girls in MYSC. MYSC also gave toys that had been donated by a California toy company to each of the children.
Members of the youth music group range from ages 18 to 29. Each one must audition for director Robert Bowden, be approved by Ray Furgeson, the president of MYSC, and meet a high standard of music performance to become eligible to play or sing with the symphony or chorus. Each member must also live in accordance with the standards of the Church, not only to become a member but to remain a member.
“It is through the MYSC that I can really sing my testimony,” said Mary Ann Conrad, one member of the chorus. “It was frightening to audition, but when I really made it, I could hardly believe it. There’s always an opportunity to share the gospel as a member of Mormon Youth.”
Galen Young, the lively and animated public relations officer for the symphony and chorus, said, “I get excited about what we can do for people. We hope to be able to spread the music of the gospel even further before we’re through.”
Now in its seventh year, the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus have been attributed with excellence in music from renowned artists. Dr. Howard Hanson, dean of American Composers and Conductors, has said, “If the world has youth like you see on this stage before you [referring to MYSC], America does not need to worry! They have restored my faith … ; they have demonstrated that they possess the spirit, the soul, and the eternity of great music.”
The youth musical organization has broadcast national programs, including concerts of Howard Hanson, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, and Disney music. In 1975 the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, awarded the MYSC the George Washington Award, a national award given for excellence and the promotion of the music and spirit of America. It is fitting and natural that their first commercial recording would celebrate the American dream—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The record is entitled “America, America, America.”
The Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus is a service organization—members give not only through music but through their personal testimonies of the gospel as they meet and talk with people. The handicapped children’s party was just one example of what they find most enjoyable. They do everything with a smile and a song.
The United States has long been called the great cultural melting pot, and some Clearfield, Utah, youths couldn’t be happier. Celebrating the nation’s 200th birthday gave them the chance to keep in step with other cultures and in more ways than one. The Ninth Ward young people studied Russian, Jewish, and English folk dances for their Worldwide Heritage Fair. But they didn’t sidestep other ingredients injected into American life-styles by immigrants. Native costumes, music, and special customs relating to youth, dating, and marriage were also presented. Ward members could walk from continent to continent (or classroom to classroom) and see displays of national coins, pottery, dolls, photographs, handwork, musical instruments, and art replicas. In keeping with the international flavor, the Laurels treated everyone to Danish pastries and exotic drinks.
Half the fun for the young people was reading up on their ancestors’ homelands and collecting native handicrafts. Nearly all of the wards’ youths were involved in the fair’s huge success. After learning so many variations of step-cross-step-kick-turn-jump-jump, they appreciated the imagination of the various cultures. And besides, who’s gong to argue with Danish pastries?
If you’re from “Big D” you inevitably do things in a big way. And the Scouts from the Dallas, Dallas North, and Ft. Worth Texas stakes are no exceptions.
For their LDS Regional Camporee, 131 boys and 32 leaders from 21 wards and branches filled two days competing in compass courses, fire building, trailing, knot tying, lashing, and physical fitness tests. They were also evaluated on camping expertise and campsite excellence.
The traditional Court of Honor was preceded by a not-so-traditional banquet—a chicken dinner Texas-style. The “dinner” arrived—a clucking, pecking, feathery bird—and the Scouts took over from there. Each Scout also received a specially designed regional camporee patch that featured a Bicentennial theme.
Fourteen Explorers, called by their stake presidents as staff specialists, directed the camporee. The Explorers, most of them Eagle Scouts, worked 18 hours a day and inspired just-a-little-harder work on skills from younger Scouts.
The comments of boys and leaders ran from “fantastic” to “the best thing that’s ever happened to our ward program!” The spectrum of opinions wasn’t very wide, but the smiles on the faces were. One Scout expressed what everyone seemed to be thinking: “This was neat! When are we going to do it again?”
Tanning and tooling raw cowhide into a handsome, functional, well-balanced saddle is an almost-lost art. Although the trade flourished in the last century, it is today a rare craft. Yet Rich Pearce was fascinated. He came by his interest quite naturally because of the historic western town he comes from—Show Low, Arizona. There wasn’t a saddlery in Show Low, however, so Rich took two summer vacations and spent them in Vernal, Utah, as an apprentice in a saddle company. Rich can now make a saddle any pioneer, sheriff, outlaw, or city dude would be comfortable in and proud to use.
The elder had been taken to the hospital that day fully expecting to be sent home. “It’s a miracle!” the doctors said. And after studying the X-rays even closer, they said it again. Elder Morrill had no broken bones. And it was a miracle, because he had been pinned under a boulder that put an estimated 2,000 pounds of pressure on his leg.
Elder Howard C. Morrill was serving a mission in the Philippines Cebu City Mission and was assigned to Iloilo City. On March 18, 1976, he saw a rock fall and roll toward him, his companion, and 11-year-old Mary Tuminez. He reached out and pushed Mary out of the path of the huge boulder that had broken loose from its mooring. As he did so his left leg was caught under the rock. It took four elders to lift the rock enough to free Elder Morrill’s leg.
“His recovery was unusually fast,” said his mission president, and Elder Morrill returned to his mission duties within weeks. His comment was that he knew that the Lord had blessed him exceedingly, and he was grateful he could help preserve the life of little Mary Tuminez and still be permitted to complete his mission.
Julie Ann Voigt of Sacramento, California, was selected to participate in the “America’s Youth in Concert” 1976 program sponsored by the Universal Academy for Music in Princeton, New Jersey. The program demonstrated the high quality and fine character of American youth while enriching and expanding the musical and cultural horizons of the young musicians.
Julie is 18 years old and a graduate of Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento. She is an active Church member and loves to sing and to do artwork for her ward (Sacramento Seventh Ward).
Julie was selected for the concert tour after participating in a nationwide audition. She first performed in Philadelphia on the 200th birthday of United States and then flew to New York City to give a performance at Carnegie Hall. She then traveled to Europe to participate in concerts in London, Paris, Geneva, Innsbruck, Venice, Florence, and Rome.