Temple Hill in Oakland, Calif., has been bustling with summer activity. In addition to being a popular tourist attraction, the visitors center, grounds and other facilities - including a 2,000-seat auditorium in the interstake building - has hosted a wide array of events for the community and area members.
Norvel "Bud" Alexander, public relations representative at the visitors center, has been pleased with the schedule and the response. He estimated that more than 4,000 people have attended the variety of programs during the summer season, which goes from June through August.The first summer event was in mid-June when Morningstar performed. A performing group of young men and young women from Los Altos, Calif., near Oakland, Morningstar is in its 14th year and is under the direction of Dagny Merrill and Annette Hull. These Christian youth, many of whom are Latter-day Saints, have toured Mexico, Europe, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, sharing their Broadway music and dance review.
July at the visitors center began with a bang as writer, producer and director Robert Sabin narrated a band and choir concert during which music was performed, focusing on history. Sketches of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and James Madison came alive as did the history of the Minutemen and those who fought the Civil War, and World War I and World War II. In addition to focusing on national heros, the narration also told of the students, women and the retired people who kept the farms and factories running during the war years. Music and songs from the 1940s added a familiar note to the presentation.
Historical events continued with a fireside July 14 as Dr. Richard O. Cowan, BYU professor and head of the Department of Church History and Religious Doctrine, and Bill Homer, Northern California public affairs media representative, presented slides, photos and a general overview of their forthcoming book, "150 Years of Saints in California." The work will be published next year and will coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first LDS pioneer arrival in California.
Also in July were three performances of the dramatized musical narrative, "The Call to Zion," which was first produced in Provo, Utah, in 1992 as part of a tour group directed by Ronald Dennis, a BYU professor.
The musical portrays Welsh convert Dan Jones fulfilling prophecy during the early days of the Restored Church with his return to Wales and his subsequent missionary work after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The cast of "The Call to Zion" has traveled throughout the U.S. and Wales.
Concluding the patriot and pioneering theme of July was "America, Our Heritage Concert" on the July 24 weekend. The Northern California Mormon/
Interfaith Choir and the Northern California Mormon/Interfaith Symphony Orchestra - with producer Doyle West, director Gary Bailey, conductor John Willis and manager Ardyth West - brought to the public three evenings of outstanding entertainment.
"The program was from the ridiculous to the sublime," said Brother West. "For example, one piece is titled
The Sow Took the Measels' - ridiculous and fun. Then we did two more,Nursery Rhythms,' and
Cranberry Corners, U.S.A.' Both are corny and marvelous. We also did works by Handel, Randall Thomson and a Hebrew piece titledSon of Galilee.' "
August brought a close to the summer activities on Temple Hill with one last event - the highly acclaimed Lowe Family, including parents and seven children, ages 5-19. The family has not only performed throughout the United States and Canada, but also in China as well. The family performed in the interstake auditorium on Aug. 19. The show included a blend of the best in classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, a five-part harmony, dance, old-time melodies and religious renditions.