‘Luz de las Naciones’ premieres this weekend

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Every year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts on “Luz de las Naciones,” a celebration of Latin American culture and dance.

The performance takes place on Nov. 3 and 4 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Tickets are sold out for “Luz de las Naciones,” but free streaming options are available on the Church’s website for the performance this weekend.

Preparations for the event began in February and cast members described the event as unifying, spiritual and fun. Ian Herrera is 13 years old and the youngest soloist to ever perform at “Luz de las Naciones.”

Herrera moved to the U.S. from Chiclayo, Peru when he was eight years old. He said singing in “Luz de las Naciones” makes him so happy it is hard to put into words. 

“I had the opportunity to learn about lots of cultures, because as you know ‘Luz de las Naciones,’ it’s based on showing people culture and where we come from,” Herrera said.

Herrera will be singing a Bolivian song and learned about Bolivian culture in preparation for the performance. 

Director of “Luz de las Naciones,” Israel González-Nieri, said that the performance highlights Utah’s Latin American history.

“Luz de las Naciones” is held in the Conference Center in SLC. The stage is decorated with lights, floor murals and traditional flags. (Sydni Merrill)

“This year’s cultural event will feature new music and dances depicting not only the traditions and beauty of the land of our forefathers, but also how blessed we are to live in the promised land that God prepared for us long ago,” González-Nieri said.

More than 1,000 volunteers make up the cast, dancers and musicians.

Elder Federico M. Kahnlein from Argentina is the chair of the performance assigned by the area presidency. 

“I’m so grateful to have this assignment,” Elder Kahnlein said. “Because it has given me the chance to meet really wonderful people, see all these volunteers spending of their time and talents.”

The theme for 2023’s “Luz de las Naciones” is “Nuestra Tierra,” or “Our Land.” The performance will include Utah’s Latin American history. (Church Newsroom)

Elder Kahnlein said there are many new things to look forward to in this year’s performance, including new songs, audiovisuals and guest speakers. 

“Another thing I really like from this year is that we’re going to be having a short message from a member of the First Presidency. President Oaks is going to be speaking to the audience, and I think that’s really special for all of us and all the friends that will come,” Elder Kahnlein said.  

This year’s theme is nuestra tierra, or our land. The performance also celebrates the arrival of the first Latino settlers, who dreamed of a better life and found opportunities to build the kingdom of god. That theme resonated with Herrera. 

“It’s been a great blessing to be here and sing as a soloist so always go for your dreams,” Herrera said. “It might look like it’s too far away or maybe you don’t think you’ll be able to make it but always try. I just want to tell everyone to follow their dreams.”

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