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Rexburg to celebrate pioneer heritage with ‘Saints on the Seas’

The Rexburg Tabernacle Orchestra rehearses with a community choir formed especially to perform the Kurt Bestor oratorio “Saints on the Seas.” Performances are this Thursday and the following Monday. | Courtesy Kaatia Larsen
REXBURG — This coming Thursday through Monday, the city of Rexburg invites the community to celebrate east Idaho’s pioneer heritage — pioneers from the past and today’s pioneers.
The celebration begins Thursday with a performance of “Saints on the Seas,” an oratorio by Kurt Bestor and Cori Connors, based on true stories of Latter-day Saint pioneers who traveled from Europe to the United States in the 1800s. The oratorio will be performed by the Rexburg Tabernacle Orchestra and a community choir, and soloists Alyssa Doggett, Elizabeth Mawlam, Nicole Stoker, Michael Seare, and Kyle Jensen, and will be followed by a post-show performance from songwriter Cori Connors.
Performances will be Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rexburg Tabernacle Civic Center at 51 N. Center Street. Tickets are $6 and are available here.
“Saints on the Seas” was written for SeaTrek, a 2001 tour of Europe that featured the oratorio, a traveling museum of artifacts, and eight historic ships that sailed from port city to port city. According to Rexburg Cultural Arts Director Jed Platt, the oratorio was recorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and performed in cathedrals and sanctuaries in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and several port cities in England.
Some of the cast of the production sailed with the crews of the ships, helping with chores and sleeping on board as they traveled throughout Europe. At the conclusion, and after traveling over the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, the tour was supposed to end with a finale at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, but because of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the final show was canceled, and the production participants were asked to draw as little attention as possible returning to the United States.
Platt traveled with the production in Europe as the curator of the traveling museum and has dreamed of bringing “Saints on the Seas” to eastern Idaho.
“It was just so moving,” he says. “The oratorio itself is based on accounts and experiences from journals of these new converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For many of them who made the journey over land, that was hard and worth remembering, but it was nothing compared to the ocean voyage — that first leap of faith onto the water.”
“Saints on the Seas” tells the stories of pioneers who left home and family behind to eventually make their way to Utah, after which some of those early Latter-day Saints moved north and settled in eastern Idaho.
“We are really thrilled to be able to tell their story because this is the other end of that story,” Platt says. “That’s the origin story of our community.”
Rexburg’s monthly Art Stroll will also incorporate the pioneer theme with events at the Romance Theater, the Rexburg Tabernacle and Rexburg City Hall. At the Romance, the community is invited to come and share their own pioneer stories — whether their families have been in the area for generations or if they, themselves, are the modern-day pioneers. Platt hopes international students at Brigham Young University-Idaho and others who are newer to the area will take the opportunity to share their own stories of how and why they came to Idaho.
“Where did you come from? Why are you here?” Platt asks, noting that many of Rexburg’s current international residents made great sacrifices to be there, just like the early settlers of the area.
“Sacrifice is part of our heritage,” he says.
Those who would like to share their own pioneer stories should come to the Romance Theater on Friday, Nov. 4, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., where they can make a silhouette of their profile and write their story on it to be displayed at the Romance during the month of November.
The Romance Theater will have a sailing ship bounce house on the stage from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to give little sailors a chance to play. Following the bounce house fun, historian and Brigham Young University professor Fred Woods will take the stage to share his knowledge on “the maritime immigration of European Latter-day Saints who crossed the seas to gather to Zion in the 19th Century,” according to the Rexburg Arts website.
For more information on all of the activities that will be available at the special “Saints on the Seas” Art Stroll, including a watercolor activity, origami boats, family history activities and more, visit the Rexburg Arts website.
The post Rexburg to celebrate pioneer heritage with ‘Saints on the Seas’ appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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