Orange Blossom Special hits Charlottetown

By Kayla Fraser
March 3, 2014

There was a time when a musical group of Mormon missionaries performed mostly classical music at their concerts.
Not anymore. Classical music was enough to attract older adults, but they were looking for more families to participate.
They turned to Disney World.
Concerts now feature musical selections from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Frozen and Phantom of the Opera.
“We really wanted families, so we completely redid the concert and added the visuals and the Disney music and the costumes, hoping to attract younger audiences,” said Sister Norma Hendrickson.
“It’s been really fun, because as I look out in the audience, I think the grandmothers and the mothers and the young adults enjoy it just as much as the little kids it was designed for.”
The Orange Blossom Special performing group was in Charlottetown on March 1.
The group held a family concert at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Donations were accepted for the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.
Elder R. Kevin Call, professor of music at Brigham Young University, Idaho, and professional violinist directed the program.
It features narrators, vocalists and instrumentalists from Canada and the United States who are serving in the Canada Halifax mission, which consists of the four Atlantic provinces.
However, the group flute performer Amelia Bruce is still in high school but plans to attend BYU after graduation.
Call has taught music at the university level for 30 years, but took a leave of absence to serve his mission.
“I didn’t know I would be doing more concerts here than I’ve done at home for the last five years,” he said.
In the year he has been out, he said they’ve done about 25 concerts.
“But I really enjoy doing it, working with the young missionaries. So many talented missionaries here.”
Sister Norma Hendrickson of Utah, one of the narrators from the concert, is serving in the Maritimes with her husband, Elder Clyde Hendrickson.
She said it all started because the mission president, Elder Brian Leavitt, heard Elder Call was coming and knew his musical background.
“Then magically, the Lord started sending all sorts of missionaries who were music majors. They didn’t request them, they just got them.”
Leavitt decided to start doing the concerts for communities, because they could, she said.
“To begin with, they were just a community service in a way to share our talents. But as we began to do them, we thought, well we could also do them to serve the community by turning them into a benefit for our local charities.”
They have raised over $6,000 for various charities.
“Beyond that, the members and people in the community just have loved the good quality of music.”
It has been very successful, she said.
“We feel like it’s helped people to understand more about who we are as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and so it’s raised the profile a little bit to show a little bit about why we’re here and what we do.”
She said they’ve had a really good response from good audiences and the show has gotten good reviews.
Elder Call said it’s always great to have an audience to play for.
“There is something more that you get when you actually get to perform for people and see how the music affects them and moves them and that’s what fun to do here.”
Sister Hendrickson said they have done about eight to 10 shows, as well as some Sunday programs done in conjunction with church meetings.
“I would say we’ve done probably as many as 30 various types of performances.”