News Release

Thousands Attend Latin American Cultural Celebration Held at Conference Center

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, hosted its annual multilingual fiesta Saturday evening with more than 20,000 people in attendance.

The 90-minute cultural celebration of Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations in English) featured a cast of over 1,000 volunteers who performed song, dance and narration in traditional clothing from cultures throughout Latin America.

    

The program’s official theme, “A Home for All,” focused on families, heritage and a sense of belonging.

“A home for all means that although sometimes we . . . feel a little alone or lost, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is always a place for everyone,” said Elder Jorge T. Becerra, an Area Seventy who works with more than 140 Latino Church congregations across Utah.

“Through music, dance and Latin traditions, we send a symbolic hug to all attendees who celebrate with us our cultures and our love for Jesus Christ,” Elder Becerra added.

“We want to bring a little piece of our home to the audience,” said Israel González-Nieri, music director of the event.

     

González-Nieri worked with the choir of adults and children numbering more than 300 voices from most countries of Latin America, Spain, the United States and Equatorial Guinea (Africa).

Other performers included BYU a capella women’s group Noteworthy, soloists, and a mariachi band.

“Tonight, we celebrate families,” said Elder Walter F. González, a counselor in the Utah area presidency, as part of the concert’s opening remarks. “We will do it through the memory of our cultural traditions. We will do it based on the principles of love and unity taught by our savior Jesus Christ.”

        

Families of all ages attended the free concert on a date that coincides with the Day of the Dead, a holiday that some countries celebrate to remember friends and family members who have passed away.

“It’s a special day for Mexican, Central American and South American people,” said Elder Pedro Xavier Larreal Noguera, a member of the Utah Area Seventy.

Elder Noguera, who is originally from Venezuela, explained that the program’s purpose is to help people “enjoy family, community and the gospel.”

The evening was also filled with traditional and contemporary Latin American music, colorful clothing and an 18-foot-tall piñata.

Ana and Alex Morales, originally from Mexico City, Mexico, represented their home country in what was one of the most applauded numbers of the evening.

                                                      

“Dancing with the mariachi is a big privilege . . . we are here, actually, with our daughter, and this is one of the reasons why we do this because we like to pass [traditions] on to her,” said Ana. “It’s been a lot of sacrifice, but we love it.”

“The Latin American culture is very inviting. It’s always like, ‘Come to my house, come meet with us, come dance with us!’ This production really shows that,” said Carolina Berson, from Orem, Utah.

Carolina Berson and her daughter signed up to be dancers and committed every Saturday leading up to the event since April to practice and perfect their assigned dance’s choreography. Both women are of Dominican descent but chose to dance a Brazilian musical number, “Sinhá Pureza,” because Carolina served as a volunteer Church representative there.

“We have our conceptions of what we think Hispanic is, and sometimes we only think about Mexico, but there are so many other cultures,” explained Berson.

Jafet Bustos, who performed as a soloist, said the most memorable part of his experience was realizing how the songs and dances tie back to his Chilean roots.

“Being close to the same culture and singing things that I grew up singing brings back a lot of memories,” said Bustos.

According to Elder Becerra, the ticketless event gathered people from all backgrounds and faiths and presented itself as an opportunity to celebrate as one human family.

“We are one in the eyes of God, and we can come and celebrate,” said Elder Becerra.

A video of the November 2, 2019, "Luz de las Naciones: A Home for All" musical production will be available for streaming at LuzdelasNaciones.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, beginning November 26.

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