Young Ambassadors return to Nauvoo


BYU’s Young Ambassadors have returned after five years to Nauvoo, Illinois. The group will perform its show “Heartsongs: Melodies of Love” for audiences in Nauvoo and surrounding areas from June 2 to June 13.

Young Ambassadors on-stage after a performance of their show Heartsongs: Melodies of Love.
Young Ambassadors on stage after a performance of their show “Heartsongs: Melodies of Love.” (BYU Young Ambassadors)

The Young Ambassadors have toured every year since 1970 and have visited 67 countries. Last year, they toured in Southeast Asia — specifically Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. A majority of the tours are international while rotating with state-side locations every couple of years.

Matt Davies, a junior studying Music Dance Theater, said the location of the Young Ambassadors tour is decided by “wherever the church and BYU feel they need to be that year.”

The Young Ambassadors will be in Nauvoo for two weeks, and performances will be held on an outdoor stage each night. The group will travel during the day to perform in nearby cities, as well as in neighboring states such as Iowa.

Performers, band members and technicians will tour Nauvoo, visiting famous LDS Church historical sites and learning about the history of the Mormon pioneers.

“It’s a lot of fun because you don’t get that a lot of other places,” said BYU advertising senior Brad Hill.

Young Ambassadors visiting Carthage Jail in Nauvoo.
Young Ambassadors visiting Carthage Jail in Illinois. (BYU Young Ambassadors)

This BYU performing group is made up of 20 singer/dancers, 10 band members and nine technicians. According to their website, its current show includes some of the “world’s all-time favorite love songs” that show the journey of life.

Selections come from popular Broadway musicals such as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Cinderella,” “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Other songs come from big hits by the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Adele and Elvis Presley.

The show will be separated into two 45-minute shows in order to provide variety and encourage audience members to come more than once. The whole set — including costumes and backdrops — will be traveling with the group throughout the tour.

Performing in Nauvoo adds the unique element of missionary work that separates it from other tours. The nightly performances are free, and the expense is part of the missionary program in Nauvoo.

Young Ambassadors Sydney Young (top right) and Heather McDonald (bottom right) participate in pioneer games and dress ups while in Nauvoo.
Young Ambassadors Sydney Young (top right) and Heather McDonald (bottom right) participate in pioneer games and dress ups while in Nauvoo. (BYU Young Ambassadors)

Each year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends at least one BYU performance group to Nauvoo, such as Living Legends, Vocal Point and the Folk Dance team.

The Young Ambassadors, as well as the other performance groups, have the opportunity to interact with individuals who have never heard of the group or possibly the church.

Lauren Miner, a senior in elementary education, said the group’s director often reminds performers they are not just representing BYU but the church as well.

“It’s not just singing and dancing and being cheesy about love,” Miner said. “It’s testifying of Christ and helping others understand that love.”

Four years ago the Young Ambassadors toured in South Africa and were well received.

“The church saw a really great opportunity there to build BYU’s name and build the church’s name,” Davies said. “I love the opportunity to represent BYU. My favorite part of being a Young Ambassador is being able to share the message of light and love.”

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