Unification News for October 1998
Producing Blessing '98/Behind the Scenes
Report by David Eaton
The Blessing '98 event at Madison Square Garden was undoubtedly one of the most significant events that our movement in America has produced. As producer of the overall MSG program I was presented with the challenge of fashioning an event that would reflect the spirit of True Parent's vision and values. With guidance of Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Rev. Joong Hyun Pak, Mr. Neil Salonen and Dr. Tyler Hendricks, and with the talents of numerous individuals, we were able to produce an event that many felt True Parents could be truly proud.
Assembling "The Team"
Needless to say, an event this magnitude in a major venue such as Madison Square Garden, required enormous logistical planning and preparation. Productions aspects such as lighting, sound, video recording and production, satellite broadcasting, image magnification (I-mag), art design, staging, decorations, credentials, security, talent coordination, musical production, finances, media coordination, transportation, catering and archival photography made this event extraordinarily complex. Working in Madison Square Garden with the various trade unions that are part of the Garden's infrastructure made the task even more daunting.
Fortunately, having produced the Blessing '97 event at RFK Stadium with a talented group of members and professionals just seven months earlier, made the MSG project a bit more manageable as we were able to reassemble most of our production team for Blessing '98.
Key to this was our ability to hire Robert "Mo" Morrison as our production coordinator. Uncle "Mo" (as he is affectionately known) is one the production industry's most talented and highly regarded producers. With concerts and tours with Michael Jackson, the Grateful Dead, and Woodstock under his belt, Mo has a wealth of experience that we were able to draw upon. The fact that he was a pivotal player in the RFK production and had previously worked at MSG, made his presence on the Blessing '98 team all the more helpful.
In addition to Mo Morrison there were several talented individuals who were on board to expedite the Blessing '98 program. Television Director Ron De Moraes (another RFK veteran) was the executive in charge of the line broadcast and satellite shots, Alan Nuemann of Metropolitan Entertainment our television line producer, Bill Popa (who was with us at RFK) was the satellite up-link provider/coordinator and Ken Viola of Metropolitan Security (also at RFK) was our security liaison with the Garden.
The contributions of FFWPUI members were also important to the success of Blessing '98. Dr. Tyler Hendricks, Linda Eisenberg and Larry Moffitt were the script writers, Peter van Geldern was the art director, Simon Kinney was the I-Mag director, Adruma Victoria and Sandra Lowen were the line producers for the 2,000 Voice Inter-church Choir, Jerry Heying was our director of security, Michael Lograsso was credential manager.
There were numerous advance meetings at Madison Square Garden to work through labor requirements, scheduling and production parameters. The fact that we had only two and a half days to accomplish all load-in and set-up tasks made scheduling and advance preparations crucial. A one hour delay in production procedure could have potentially added tens of thousands of dollars in labor charges as several trade unions were involved in providing the necessary technical support.
Working through all the production parameters with Mo Morrison, Ron DeMoraes and the Garden staff provided valuable experience for all of us.
The 2,000 Voice Inter-church Choir
One of the most significant aspects of the Blessing '98 was the participation of the 2,000 Voice Inter-church Choir which was comprised of 83 choirs from various churches from the East Coast. The inter-church choir concept was based on the inspiration of Rev. Joong Hyun Pak, North American Continental Director. Rev. Pak felt that this choir would give strong impetus to our mobilization effort as congregations of the participating choirs would attend in order to support their church's choir. It was strategy that worked brilliantly.
Originally the idea was said to have a 1,000 voice choir, but as the idea caught on the number of churches wanting to be part of this historic ensemble increased rapidly. Rev. Pak felt that any church willing to participate be accepted. Singers from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Virginia, Chicago, Richmond and Washington, DC were involved with the New Life Tabernacle Baptist Church of Brooklyn and their dynamic conductor, Angela Moses, acting as the lead choir.
Those who were in attendance couldn't help but being moved by the power and majesty of the choir and Rev. Pak deserves enormous credit for seeing this aspect of the production through to its successful culmination.
For me personally Blessing '98 was a very rewarding experience. Having been in the Performing Arts in our movement for over 22 years, Blessing '98 represented a culmination of sorts. This was a harvesting of many of the seeds that True Parents have planted in their quest for an ideal world.
Obviously, Father has hope and a certain faith that we can eventually achieve our innermost goals as Tribal Messiahs and professionals in our respective areas of endeavors. I feel very strongly that with the proper spiritual attitude and external circumstances, many of our talented members can produce significant results in their professions. This was evident in the efforts of many members who were involved in the Blessing '98 production.
I thank God and True Parents for their support in making the production of Blessing '98 as successful.
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