"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir Leaders Reach out to Peers and Friends

Mack Wilberg, music director of the Choir, recently returned from two “power-packed” days in Minneapolis where he met with the Minnesota choral community in advance of the Choir’s visit in June as part of its Upper Midwest Tour.

The area is known for its strong choral tradition so Wilberg felt right at home among friends and peers as he met with Classical Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) officials, radio personalities, and choral directors. “Every event was a home run,” he said. He was the featured guest at a discussion breakfast with the state’s choral leadership which included a robust question and answer period where he admitted that his well-known arrangements are made at home on an old out of tune spinet piano with four keys that don’t work.

During his visit, Wilberg also conducted a choral workshop for over 100 community choir directors at a local LDS chapel. The workshop focused on his guidelines to successfully rehearse a choir. In the hands of Mack Wilberg, a choral rehearsal literally has a beat and rhythm of its own not just in the music but in the way a director gives instruction, correction, and praise.

The trip would not have been complete without spending time at Minnesota Public Radio, one of the premier radio stations in the country, where Wilberg met with President Jon McTaggart, had lunch with MPR luminaries such as “Pipedreams” Michael Barone and participated in an interview himself with Brian Newhouse, an MPR personality.

Wilberg along with Ryan Murphy, associate director, and Richard Elliott, principal organist, are ambassadors for the Choir. Each of them has an outreach schedule, which they fit in—here and there—in their busy schedule. This outreach includes classes, workshops, guest conducting and performances for audiences around the country.

Earlier this month, Murphy was at St. Boniface Episcopal Church in Sarasota, Florida giving a lecture on “Music at the Tabernacle.” The next day at that magnificent church he conducted a 200-voice combined choir formed from many choirs in the community.

Elliott squeezes in about six outside performances a year in some of the grandest cathedrals and concert halls in the nation. Just recently, he performed at St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington. “I love everything about it,” he is quick to say. While most musicians take their instrument with them, obviously Elliott doesn’t. He sits down at the organ and spends a couple of days getting familiar with it before he performs.