In April, 1998, President Hinckley visited New York City to speak at a special fireside held in Madison Square Garden, and our stake provided a 100+ voice choir for the event. I remember thinking at the time that with all of the talented Church members in New York City, the choir should be permanent.
Of course this has happened in several places. From what I understand, there is a Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C., a Richmond Chorale, a Southern California Mormon Choir, an Arizona Mormon Choir, and a Colorado Mormon Choir. Generally, these choirs are funded by local stakes, and keep a fairly low profile, lest they eclipse the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
A decade later, we don’t have a choir, but there are some interesting local LDS groups here. For example, the Mormon Artists Group, a collective of approximately 50 creative artists, including novelists, poets, playwrights, composers, painters, photographers, and so forth formed in 1999. Its called a “collective” because of its informal operation â€” no formal membership and no dues. While this informality requires a greater committment from members and from its founder, Glen Nelson, it has the advantage of simplicity and low cost.
The group has been remarkably active, producing 20 different events and projects, more than a dozen of which are works for sale. Each work is a partnership of the artistic collaborators, who share the costs and profits from their work. Typically, each artist has a list of friends that will be interested in his or her work, and joining the lists from all the participants usually means a wider distribution of the work. This system also means that the costs for an individual artist are substantially lower than if the artist produced a project by himself.
Its a great system. One I think could be replicated elsewhere. But it does require an individual to organize and run the system.
Another example of a local organization here in New York is our New York LDS History Committee a group of amateur historians that research the history of the LDS Church in New York City. The group has been meeting monthly for more than 10 years, and has produced newsletters twice a year, 2 different walking tours (given several times each year) and produced the book City Saints: Mormons in the New York Metropolis.
I don’t know if New York City is particularly unique in this regard. I know of a few groups that exist in other areas, like the choirs mentioned above. There are probably also local LDS groups I don’t know anything about.
What is interesting is that these groups represent a kind of localization of LDS culture; an attempt to allow local artists and local members to participate, instead of the historical system where so much of LDS culture is centered in Utah.
Do you know of local LDS groups in your area? Are Mormons increasingly looking for ways to participate in some kind of LDS culture?