News Release

Celebrating Freedom through Jazz: Highlights from the 2024 BYU Synthesis Concert

Elder Jack N. Gerard greets ambassadors from over 20 different countries at this year’s BYU Synthesis Concert in Brussels, Belgium

On Friday, May 10, the European Union and International Affairs Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted a live concert by Brigham Young University’s Synthesis jazz band in Brussels, Belgium. Ambassadors and diplomats from more than 20 countries enjoyed a reception prior to the excellent musical performance.

At the reception, the guests were greeted by Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy and Second Counselor in the Europe Central Area Presidency and his wife, Sister Claudette Gerard, along with Francesco Di Lillo, Director of the European Union and International Affairs Office of the Church in Brussels, and his wife, Emanuela Di Lillo. The Church was also represented by Elder Bruce and Sister Jean Bingham, former General Relief Society President, both now serving as senior missionaries in Brussels. Members of the BYU Synthesis group mingled with the distinguished guests, sharing their experiences of performing while representing Brigham Young University.

Di Lillo spoke to the assembled guests at the reception, describing the efforts and purposes of the Church’s government relations office in Belgium and expressing appreciation for the relationships enjoyed with each of the guests. Both Taylor Morris, Artist Manager at BYU Performing Arts Management, and Ben Nichols, the director of the band, also shared short messages at the reception, articulating the motivation behind the group’s music and performances. In the concluding message, Elder Gerard spoke of unity, freedom of religion, and the importance of protecting rights through collaboration between religious and governmental organizations. Elder Gerard emphasized the centrality of Jesus Christ and His teachings in their work.

After the reception, the guests moved into the concert hall where they listened to inspiring jazz numbers from different eras. Prior to the commencement of the concert, Ben Nichols shared a brief message about jazz. He noted, “Jazz represents freedom” in the musical world. The following hour was filled with jazz classics and unique arrangements composed by many of the student performers. Throughout the concert, members of the band rose from their seats to provide solo performances. At the end of the concert, the students’ efforts were met with a standing ovation and cheers from the audience.

As the ambassadors and other special guests exited the venue, they expressed how much they enjoyed their performance and the opportunity to participate in the wonderful event. Each guest received hand- assembled gift bags of Belgian chocolates and other remembrances. Elder Gerard stated, “Events such as these allow for the Church and its representatives to connect with leaders from across the world. These connections lead to friendships, and friendships to partnerships that allow the Church to advance the Lord’s work and bless millions of lives.”

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