By Angela Hansen
As Brigham Young played a key role in settling Utah, his namesake university is playing a key role in celebrating the state’s 100th birthday.
“We have planned more events specifically related to the centennial than any other college or university in Utah,” said Harold Oaks, chair of the BYU Centennial Committee.
BYU and members of the campus community are contributing to the celebration by sponsoring workshops, offering special classes, featuring exhibits, producing theatrical performances, and publishing books.
Begun in June 1995 with educational workshops that had a centennial theme, BYU’s celebrations will continue through the end of 1996. The lengthy celebration is fitting since the application for statehood was also drawn out, requiring eight attempts and more than 30 years.
Support for Utah’s centennial comes from all areas of campus. The Centennial Speakers’ Bureau involves many departments and individuals. The bureau provides schools and groups with access to campus experts who can speak on centennial themes.
“I’ve been getting phone calls from all offer the state,” said Amelia Matthews, who is in charge of the Speakers’ Bureau.
Speakers coffer a variety of topics, from the Utah War to 19th-century Utah women to Utah’s work ethic.
One speaker, Kristi Bell, ties the past to the present by talking about Utah folklore.
“This state has a lot of weird names in some of our little towns,” Matthews said. “She shares some interesting and amusing tales about how they got their strange names.”
For information about the Speakers’ Bureau, contact Matthews at (801) 378-5789.
Another ongoing BYU centennial project is a big brass band.
The five music faculty members who form the BYU Brassworks band have expanded the group to include seven other professionals from Utah colleges and universities. The expanded group, which began performing in the summer of 1995, is called the Brassworks’ Centennial Band.
“Back in the territorial days of Utah, every little community had its own brass band,” said Steven Call, a BYU music instructor and the tuba player for Brassworks.
The band dresses in 1890 costume and plays music from that era, including “Yankee Doodle,” “After the Ball,” “Dixie,” and “Bonnie Blue Flag.” The band also performs “A Patriot’s Dream,” written specially for the Brassworks’ Centennial Band by BYU music professor Newell Dayley.
In addition to performing at major centennial events, the band has performed in many cities around the state.
Exhibits in the Harold B. Lee Library will give an overall view of Utah’s quest for statehood.
“An exhibit starting in September will show rare books, maps, manuscripts, and photographs which will tell the story that leads up to statehood,” said Dennis Rowley, curator for the library’s “Mormonism and the West” collection.
A dozen maps will show the changes in Utah geographically, beginning with the original request for statehood that gave the name “Deseret” to an area as large as Texas.
The exhibit will feature the people of Utah as well, and it will present some of the issues discussed in the 1890s that are still discussed today.
The Museum of Art will add another perspective of Utah history by featuring works by Mohonri Young, a world-famous sculptor and grandson of Brigham Young.
Other departments and individuals on campus are contributing to the celebration as well.