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Composer has desire to 'build kingdom'

Sam Cardon is an Emmy-Award winner who has written musical themes for Good Morning America, ABC Monday Night Football and National Geographic.

His work has been heard by millions.But the composer, arranger, producer and songwriter said while he is proud of all his creations, he finds some of his greatest satisfaction from working with the Church - writing music for LDS television spots, Seminary videos and Church satellite broadcasts. Last year he also worked with other LDS artists to create the Promised Valley Playhouse production "Celebrating Utah, Our Unspoken Song" - a project he cites as one of his favorites.

The show portrays a century of creativity, inventiveness, excellence in the arts, educational commitment and deeply-held family values by telling a few short stories from different eras in the state's history. It celebrates the Utah Symphony, the Shakespearean Festival, cultural diversity and the contributions made by teachers and military servicemen.

Brother Cardon, Michael McLean, Kurt Bestor and David Tinney wrote "Celebrating Utah" for the state's centennial. The musical - which premiered at the playhouse last year - opened June 20 and will run through Aug. 31.

Brother Cardon said he has a "sense of mission" about his work. "I think most creative people in the Church have a strong desire to do things to build the kingdom," he said.

And when working for the Church, "there is always a little bit of extra reward," Brother Cardon said.

While writing "Celebrating Utah" there were many times that he felt spiritually motivated. "I felt like we were doing something that was very special," he explained. "I definitely know that the Lord's hand was in a lot of it."

The composer said he had only a superficial knowledge of events in the state's history prior to writing part of the music for the show. He was skeptical of some of the stories, such as that portrayed in the scene "Father Scanlan/Brother Macfarlane." The scene tells the story of an LDS congregation participating in a Catholic Mass in the St. George Tabernacle to assist their Catholic neighbors who had not yet built a cathedral and didn't have a large choir.

"I just couldn't believe that it really happened," he said. "I think it was extraordinary that a group of Latter-day Saints put on a Mass in Latin. That event forged a bond between those two religious communities that still exists today."

Brother Cardon said he thinks one of the great lessons of "Celebrating Utah" is that small people doing good things, like Father Scanlan and Brother Macfarlane, can make a big difference.

"These people, who probably didn't have any sense that they would influence generations to come, were just going about their lives.

"I hope people walk away realizing that they, in their own way, have impact. It will not be just on themselves and their family, but it will be on the people around them and it will be for generations to come."

Brother Cardon said he thinks many will - that's why the Church projects in his music repertoire are some of his favorites.