Vietnamese performers share musical talent

When members of the Vietnam Symphony and Chorus presented selections from Handel's "Messiah" Oct. 28-29 in Hanoi, they were joined by some foreign guests.

Elder Stanley G. and Sister Mavis H. Steadman, and Elder J. LaVar and Sister Helen R. Bateman sang with the chorus. The two couples are Church representatives teaching English to the Vietnamese people, and were instrumental in the production of the "Messiah."The idea to perform the "Messiah" came from the Church representatives, and the symphony orchestra liked it, said Elder John K. Carmack, a member of the Seventy and Asia Area president. "The orchestra and chorus have leaned a lot on Elder Steadman especially; he sang for over 30 years with the Tabernacle Choir."

The Vietnamese performance of selections from the "Messiah" was sung in English, according to Elder Carmack. The symphony and chorus also performed other music.

"The Vietnamese did a beautiful job of learning their parts," said Elder Carmack. "They're not accustomed to doing vocal music like that in Vietnam, so it was a new thing. And Christian music is new to them.

"But they recognize that the `Messiah' is known by the world to be great music."

Elder Kwok Yuen Tai, a member of the Seventy and first counselor in the Asia Area presidency, attended the concert with his wife, Flora.

"The concert was a good idea and much appreciated by the people of Hanoi," Elder Carmack said.

The "Messiah" concert was not the first time Elder and Sister Steadman and Elder and Sister Bateman shared their musical talents with the Vietnamese people. In August, they directed an all English-speaking, roadshow-type production at the Hanoi Children's Palace School.

An overflow audience applauded 120 children, ages 8-15, as they sang 19 songs, including "Give Said the Little Stream," "Lift Up Your Voice" and several others from the Primary Children's Songbook.

The show - "It's a Small World" - included novelty musical numbers, readings and children's poems. The finale was a colorful spectacle as the children entered the stage waving United States and Vietnamese flags, singing "This Land Is Your Land," as well as a Vietnamese national song.

Elder and Sister Steadman helped the children learn the songs and Elder and Sister Bateman designed and put together colorful costumes. The couples have been teaching English at the school since their arrival in January.

The musical was a culmination of classroom activities during the summer months. Parents on bicycles and motor bikes brought children hours early for rehearsals and stayed late to take them home. Full cooperation was extended by the school's art department, which created a striking backdrop and lifelike masks for the specialty number, "The House That Jack Built."

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