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Interfaith concert offers music for peace

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Gayatri Jayaraman performs a Hindu Temple Dance Sunday during Salt Lake Interfaith concert at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

Gayatri Jayaraman performs a Hindu Temple Dance Sunday during Salt Lake Interfaith concert at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

From a feathered headdress to a yarmulke, from prayers and booming drums to soaring voices and shimmering bells, Utahns celebrated peace and fellowship Sunday night.

The concert in the Assembly Hall at Temple Square was a musical tribute to the human spirit, and had as its theme "A Call to Prayer — A Call to Peace." It was the culmination of Utah's 2007 Interfaith Week.

"This is a great event," said James Pingree, a member of the Salt Lake Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, welcoming the throng of several hundred to the historic Assembly Hall. He noted that in order for the program to carry the words "Let There be Peace on Earth," permission had to be obtained from the copyright holder.

As the program noted, he said, the daughter of the song's authors, Jill Jackson and Sy Miller, wrote to the concert organizers, "This is exactly the kind of an event for which the song was written. Your use of it would please them very much."

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. said "Love and hope ... need to penetrate every corner of our society." Interfaith cooperation helps to spread those essentials, he said. He added that when he and First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman recently adopted a child from India, they found the orphanage was drawing help from Hindu, Islamic and Christian believers.

At the orphanage, he said, they felt "love in its purest form."

Following invocation by a Catholic sister, Bridget-Clare McKeever, a call to prayer was issued by Islamic, Christian and Jewish singers.

Immediately before the concert, a hard and cold rain was falling, but during the call to prayer the sun broke through the clouds and made the hall's pearly windows glow.

The Wesley Bell Ringers, directed by Terry W. Waite of Christ United Methodist Church, played a contemplative piece. They were accompanied by Bonnie Goodliffe, Tabernacle organist.

Arvol Looking Horse, a Lakota Indian religious leader, led a prayer set to drumming. A Hindu Temple Dance by Gayatri Jayaraman offered symbolic flowers.

The Tongan Wesleyan Choir sang in their melodic island language. After the blowing of a conch shell and the ringing of a hand bell, the Buddhist Taiko Drummers from the Buddhist Church of Ogden boomed out an amazing piece.

Children of the Islamic Nasheeds group performed the song "In the Name of God" both in English and Arabic.

"Jesus, Once of Humble Birth," was sung by the University of Utah Student Vocal Ensemble, with Brady Allred conducting.

Finally, the audience sang together from the program, "Let There be Peace on Earth."

E-mail: bau@desnews.com