Vocal Point to serenade sold-out crowd in Coeur d’Alene

Tickets for the Vocal Point concert in Coeur d’Alene sold out on Nov. 4 – but that doesn’t mean the local host of the event has stopped hearing from Inland Northwest residents still holding out hope.

The show on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Schuler Performing Arts Center on the campus of North Idaho College has been marketed for months by the Spokane chapter of the BYU Management Society with promotional material in many of the LDS buildings throughout the region. Events Chair Shaun Brown of the Spokane Valley Stake says the interest has been encouraging – even after the last ticket was sold.

Vocal Point pic_Rec Guide

“We are thrilled at the response from the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene region,” Shaun said.  “Emails and phone calls have been constant with individuals hoping there are still a few tickets to be had.”

The concert features  the internationally renowned ensemble of nine vocalists from Brigham Young University – sans backup band – as they run through a set list that includes contemporary pop hits, traditional spirituals and most musical genres in between.

Proceeds from the concert will fund scholarships for local high school students and returned LDS missionaries awarded each year by the BYU Management Society. The Vocal Point show is the latest in an impressive series of benefits sponsored by the... Read Full Story →

Stalwart steps – Rathdrum youth makes great strides through dance

Walking down the sidewalk, Isaac Sanders looks just like any other teenager from North Idaho.  Until the moment he leaps into the air and does a Gene Kelly heel-click, then returns to earth with a solid toe turn.  That’s when you realize that Isaac is the dancing equivalent to a McDonald’s High School All-American basketball star. Sanders dances, and he dances ballet, good enough to have recently attended one of the top competitions in the world.

Isaac is part of a group of “ballerinos” – male ballet dancers – who are often shuttled into the same  category of obscurity as offensive linemen in football – integral but unheralded.

Isaac pic

Isaac Sanders, a teacher in the Lakeland First Ward in Rathdrum, Idaho, recently participated in the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet class.

“Ballet would not be complete without us,” Isaac said. “Our job is to make the girls look good.”

Isaac has been dancing since the age of 8, and began training in ballet at the age of 11 at the Brindusa-Moore Ballet Academy in Pocatello, Idaho.   His mother, Emily Sanders, says that it was a real test of faith and prayer when they were told by his teachers that Isaac had the potential to be an accomplished dancer.

“We needed to know if this was a gift that Heavenly Father really wanted him to focus on, or if it was more... Read Full Story →

Future missionary hopes to raise funds, deliver message with play at Bing

At some point down the road, Dakota Moses will knock on doors as a full-time missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asking questions like “Where did we come from? Why are we here? and Where are we going?”

This month, the soon-to-be senior at Mead High School in Spokane will address many of the same topics on the stage of a legendary theater.

Dakota will direct and act in a production of “My Turn on Earth,” the well-known LDS musical on Monday, July  22 at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. The production, featuring a cast of five from the Spokane North Stake, will serve a fundraiser for Dakota’s mission.

Mead High School senior and future missionary Dakota Moses (far right) is staging the play, “My Turn on Earth” as a missionary fundraiser this month. In addition to Dakota, the cast features four youth from the Spokane North Stake. From left to right: Tanner Hardy, Paige Hardy, Sierra Perrins and Whitney Moses. Contributed photo.

Mead High School senior and future missionary Dakota Moses (far right) is staging the play, “My Turn on Earth” as a missionary fundraiser this month. In addition to Dakota, the cast features four youth from the Spokane North Stake. From left to right: Tanner Hardy, Paige Hardy, Sierra Perrins and Whitney Moses. Contributed... Read Full Story →

Boye brings soulful song stylings to Inland Northwest

When you watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sometimes there is one individual who stands out to you. For our family, that individual is Alex Boye. Having listened to his music and watched his “Mormon Messages” video, we love to catch a glimpse of him in the choir. And we are especially excited to see him perform live at a special concert on March 23 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

As a child of Nigerian parents who grew up on the streets of London, Alex probably never imagined that one day he would join the most famous choir in the world or come to Spokane, Washington for that matter. He grew up in humble circumstances in England and, at age 11, his mother announced she was going to Nigeria for a few weeks. When she did not return, Alex was placed in foster care.

During his teenage years, he took a job at McDonald’s in London. While there, his manager invited him to learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He went with an interest in talking to American girls and discovered in the message of the LDS sister missionaries something that touched his soul.

At age 16, Alex joined the Church, and later served a mission in Bristol, England. He had several opportunities to sing and perform during his mission, and his mission president advised him to do something with his musical talent.

In 1995, Alex formed a band called “Awesome” which sold over 500,000 CDs, but the lifestyle of a traveling musician wasn’t what Alex wanted for himself.

“Somehow I don’t think that’s what (the mission president) had in mind,” Alex later remarked.

When he came to the United States in 1999, he began to look for other ways to share his musical talent. Youth firesides, acting opportunities, and recording work with other LDS pop artists opened doors for him in Utah. In... Read Full Story →

Steinway Gallery hosts free piano concert featuring renowned musician

Looking for a unique, enriching evening of entertainment at a fantastic venue this weekend – at no cost?

The Steinway Piano Gallery will host a solo piano concert featuring renowned musician Greg Presley, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at Steinway Piano Gallery located at 13418 E. Nora Ave. (I-90 south frontage between Pines & Evergreen) in Spokane Valley. This event is free to the community.

This concert features the amazing sounds of one of Spokane’s greatest pianists. Presley’s schedule includes a myriad of performances, including solo concerts, accompanying productions of the Spokane Opera and as part of a duo-team with Kendall Feeney. He is currently serving as a member of the piano faculty at Gonzaga University.

The program will consist of works by Bach, Kapustin, Liszt, and others. Presley has titled this recital “The Creative Artist: Transformation Reinvention Reinterpretation”.

As an accomplished concert pianist, Presley has appeared as piano soloist with the Spokane Symphony, the Yale Symphony, and the Washington-Idaho Symphony. His work carries him into the world of dance and opera where he serves as professor and principal pianist. A graduate of Yale University with special honors in music, Presley went on to study with Josef Raieff at The Julliard School where he received several music awards and his Masters of Music. Don’t miss this exciting recital with Spokane’s very own concert artist!

For information, call Steinway Piano Gallery @ (509) 32-PIANO (327-4266) or send an e-mail to joyce@steinwayspokane.com.

Local musician, singer shine at spring concert

It was a concert by youth to support youth.

Rachel Averett, accompanied by Val Wold, sang in a Spring Harmony Benefit Concert for the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County at the Kroc Center on Sunday, April 17. She sang “Memory” by Andrew Webber from the play “Cats.”

The Boys and Girls Club is a community effort to provide a safe place to keep kids involved in positive activities. Both Rachel and Val spoke of the honor they felt to be a part of this activity.

Rachel, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Ryan Averett, is a student of the CDA Charter Academy in Coeur d’Alene.

Rachel has been involved musically in a variety of local events. Recently, she and Rachael Mylroie, who are affectionately known as the “Two Rachaels” in their Hayden Fourth Ward, won a “Superior” rating for a duet at the District Solo and Ensemble contest.

Val Wold, a 12 year old pianist, started learning piano at the age of 6. He played his first public concert at the age of 7. He has performed at over 120 concerts for various organizations, banks, local chambers, schools and retirement communities and recently was among the featured musicians at a concert for Idaho State Governor Butch Otter and 350 other state legislators.



Val Wold and Rachel Averett were featured at a spring concert benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County on April 17. Contributed Photo.

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The Sound of Talent echoes through Valley with CV musical

The hills of Spokane Valley are alive with the sound of music, thanks to a group of high school students, many of them Latter-Day Saints.

Central Valley High School’s drama department is currently presenting Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, “The Sound of Music,” and involved in the production are numerous LDS youth, including 14 cast members, five crew members and a number of others involved in the pit orchestra.

In addition to the spring production, the Central Valley campus includes a strong LDS population. Brandon Carter of the Pines Ward, Spokane East Stake says “We all know each other, and everyone knows who we are.” He believes that the drama genre often draws more LDS participants because of the music and because the shows tend to be more family-oriented.

“The Sound of Music” also has a strong spiritual focus. Carter says that other cast members who played nuns would listen to spiritual music, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in order to get themselves in the right frame of mind.



Central Valley High School’s production of “The Sound of Music” includes many students from local LDS wards. Natalie Martinez (left) plays the Mother Abbess and Maitlin Stewart portrays Maria Rainer. Contributed Photo.

Ashton Toth, a member of the Belle Terre Ward, Spokane East Stake, points out that another reason so many LDS youth are involved in theater is because they are taught to talk and sing in church as part of Primary, Young Men and Young Women programs.

However, both Carter and Toth make it clear that being comfortable on stage is not the only reason they participate in theater.

“I like how you can share a story with the audience and you can... Read Full Story →

Spokane author steps onto bookshelves with ‘Growing Up Gracie’

Gracie is an average Mormon girl, the fifth of six kids, growing up in Wyoming. She feels like there isn’t much that makes her unique or interesting, but as she grows up, she finds that she can still make a great life, just by being herself.

Author Maggie Fechner, a member of the Five Mile Prairie Ward in the Spokane North Stake, did the same when she began writing her first book.



Maggie Fechner of the Spokane North Stake is the author of a recently published book called “Growing Up Gracie.” Contributed Photo.

“My daughter Gracie was just a new baby and since I had quit working I was home alone with a lot of free time on my hands,” Fechner said. “I thought it would be fun to write a story for her to read when she was older. I had absolutely no thoughts or plans to get it published.”

Fechner, who has a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism, had plenty of experience writing for newspapers, but had put little thought into fiction. She wrote the story, put it on a shelf and forgot about it. Five years and two more children later, she came across the manuscript while reorganizing her papers.

“I read through it and was totally appalled – but I’m a writer, so I thought, ‘Let’s start rewriting and see what can be done with it,'” Fechner said.

After some major revisions, Fechner sent the manuscript for “Growing Up Gracie” to a few LDS publishers and it was picked up by Cedar Fort and published just this last November. It is considered to be a “young adult” book, but anyone who was experienced adolescence will be able to connect to Gracie as she figures out her relationships with friends, boys, and her beliefs. ... Read Full Story →

Blessing of music keeps piano teacher in tune

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

— Colossians 3:16

For Joyce Hawkins, music is more than a series of notes on a scale – it is a method of worship, a nourishing refuge, a way of life.

Whether serving as the accompanist at church, teaching the piano or merely listening to her favorite hymn, Hawkins basks in the glow of song. For those who have forgotten one of the staples of an adequate food storage supply, Hawkins is quick to remind them that a hymn book – along with nutritional basics, water and the scriptures – has been recommended for every home.



A member of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake, Joyce Hawkins has been teaching piano for the past 35 years. Contributed Photo.

“Hymns contain stories that are there to teach us – just like the stories from the prophets and the people in the scriptures,” said Hawkins, a member of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake.

Hawkins began learning piano in the first grade. Both of her grandmothers fostered a love of music as did her mother, who played the piano on a semi-professional level. After her family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Hawkins was a youth, she recalls music being integral to the development of her testimony.

“The messages of our Father and Heaven are contained in hymns,” she said. “I learned to read hymns and look at the scriptural references. I wanted to find out, ‘What does this mean to me?'”

Hawkins has been teaching piano for the past... Read Full Story →

Local residents strike unique chord with ‘Forgotten Carols’

For Mary Beth Wagstaff, the holiday calendar was rapidly filling up – and it was only October.

Adding another task to the schedule – specifically, joining a volunteer choir that would sing at a high-profile concert on Thanksgiving weekend – seemed unlikely at first. Renowned LDS musician Michael McLean was headed to Spokane and would stage the musical play, “The Forgotten Carols” on Nov. 26 at the INB Performing Arts Center. As part of the production, a choral group of 40 to 50 was being compiled from representatives of local Church stakes.

Wagstaff, a member of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake, dropped by a choir practice in Post Falls on Oct. 26. It didn’t take long before she had an answer to her prayers.

“It was obvious by the end of the first rehearsal that this is something I should be doing,” she said.

The mission for Wagstaff and her fellow vocalists was not a simple one. The group would be required to memorize five songs in a little over a month and be prepared to step on stage in front of thousands of people with a composer known for his work on holiday classics like “Mr. Kruger’s Christmas” and “Nora’s Gift.”

Tamra Dale of Post Falls worked with representatives of Deseret Book to coordinate the logistics of the choir. By the day of the concert, the group was 41 singers strong.

Shelley Crump was familiar with the music and story of “The Forgotten Carols.” The heartwarming account of the true meaning of Christmas had been part of her family’s seasonal tradition for years with her kids learning to play songs from the CD on the piano.



Michael McLean brought the story of “The Forgotten... Read Full Story →

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