Gladys Knight, Ariel Bybee, and Michael Ballam are just a few of the artists who will perform at "An Evening of Celebration" on the 90th birthday of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.
President Hinckley will personally host the 23 June event in the Conference Center with 21,000 guests. He said, "A 90th birthday is an occasion to count the abundant blessings of life and return thanks. I desire no gifts, but rather I wish to give something to this community in which I have spent most of my life."
Tabernacle Choir Director Craig Jessop said the President specifically requested some of the songs that will be performed.
"I know that one of his most beloved songs of all time is 'Danny Boy.' It goes back to his service as a missionary when, in route to London, he heard the song for the first time as his ship docked briefly in Ireland," recalled Dr. Jessop.
Other numbers included are "That's What Friends Are For," "The Impossible Dream," "Jupiter" from The Planets, and favorite hymns.
The list of national performers and distinguished local musicians will share the stage with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.
"An Evening of Celebration" will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on KBYU TV, Channel 11, and on the BYU-TV channel of the Dish Network. The event will also be shown over the Church satellite system to stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America. It is scheduled to be rebroadcast to European stake centers on Saturday, 24 June. Tickets for Conference Center seating are no longer available.
Guest artists include:Jenny Oaks Baker began playing the violin at age 4 and has performed nationally and internationally. She received a master's degree from the Juilliard School of Music and now teaches at the Levine School of Music. She is a member of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Michael and Vanessa Ballam share a love of the performing arts. Michael's career spans two decades and four continents. He is a professor of music at Utah State University and director of the Utah Festival Opera. Vanessa, Michael's daughter and the former Miss Utah, is pursuing a career in professional theater.
Robert C. Bowden served as conductor of the Mormon Youth Chorus and Symphony for 25 years. He has also served as conductor of the Salt Lake City Chamber Orchestra and as associate conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Ariel Bybee sang 18 consecutive seasons in more than 400 roles at the Metropolitan Opera. She loves to teach and is currently an artist-in-residence at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln, where she teaches voice and coaches and directs the opera program.
Gladys Knight began a gospel singing career at age 4 and later, with members of her family, formed a singing group called the Pips. They became known throughout the world and eventually won three Grammy Awards. Gladys now performs as a solo artist.
Stanford Olsen is a Utah native and has appeared over 150 times with the Metropolitan Opera. He currently lives in Florida, where he holds an endowed chair at Florida State University. Brother Olsen served from 1980-82 as a full-time missionary in the Austria Vienna Mission.
Jerold and JoAnn Ottley have enjoyed extensive musical careers. Jerold Ottley conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 25 years. JoAnn, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's voice coach, has soloed frequently in professional opera, oratorio, and recital. Both Jerold and JoAnn have served on the music faculty at the University of Utah.
Robert Peterson has performed on Broadway and in more than 60 productions at the University of Utah's Pioneer Theater. He attended the University of Utah and Juilliard School of Music and is currently a member of the University of Utah Theater Department.