Guest Conductor Charms the Choir and Audience
“What a rush,” Justin Lewis, winner of the “Conduct the Choir” contest on Facebook, said of directing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square following a Music & the Spoken Word broadcast. “It was like driving a sports car you can’t afford!”
Last June, the Choir invited fans to enter a "Conduct the Choir" video Facebook contest. Applicants submitted videos of themselves conducting Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy.” Thousands of fans voted, Choir leadership made the final selection and Lewis, an Air Force officer, won the competition which was scored on conducting skill, creativity and number of Facebook fan votes received.
Military commitments delayed his picking up the baton but when he finally did, February 17, 2013, he looked very much the part of the conductor. A cello major in college, he was living the dream. Cheering him on were his wife and two children, his mother and in-laws who play in the Orchestra at Temple Square. (Justin’s mother sang in The United States Air Force Singing Sergeants ensemble conducted at the time by Craig Jessop, who later become Music Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Jessop was also in attendance Sunday morning.) Enthusiastic, energetic, assured, Lewis received a standing ovation from Choir members and the audience in the Tabernacle following his conducting of Beethoven’s "Hallelujah Chorus" from Christ on the Mount of Olives.
Lewis can’t remember when he wasn’t a conductor. As a young lad, he had a stick in his hand at concerts in the park. He stood just steps away from The Singing Sergeants in concert waving his arms at the musicians while his mother sang. Today he serves as associate conductor of the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band.
Below is the video of Lewis conducting Beethoven's "Hallelujah," from Christ on the Mount of Olives with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. "Hallelujah" appears on the Choir's album,100 Years: A Century of Recording Excellence.