Mack Wilberg Is Directing a New Choir—of Prison Inmates
Since 2008, Mack Wilberg has been the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and his duties include conducting 360 singers and the 150-piece Orchestra at Temple Square. The arranging, composing, rehearsal, performance, and recording schedule is rigorous, to say the least. By most people’s standards, that is already a lot to handle—but evidently not for Mack Wilberg. He’s taking on a new choir in his spare time.
Earlier this year, Wilberg was contacted by the Utah State Prison’s Wasatch Music School in hopes that someone from the Choir organization could possibly help out with a master class for some of the inmates. When Wilberg offered to teach the class himself, the school’s director, David Aguirre, was surprised. Not only did Wilberg teach the master class, but he offered to teach the class regularly and has been returning about once a week since April.
Wilberg expressed his initial hesitance in a Salt Lake Tribune article, saying, "I was a little nervous at first. I didn't know what to expect, but that first time I looked at all these inmates—I know they have had challenges in their lives—and to see them come together [to sing], I was moved by that.”
Wilberg's educational background includes Brigham Young University, where he received a bachelor’s degree, and the University of Southern California, where he received master’s and doctoral degrees. His compositions and arrangements are performed and recorded by choral organizations throughout the world, now including this special choir at the Utah State Prison.
Although you might not associate the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with prisons, the Choir does have its share of connections. In the 1870s, the Choir took a trip to the Utah State Penitentiary to give the prisoners a concert (full story). The Choir also recently filmed a music video in a prison. The story of that video follows an inmate's journey to redemption and is set to the song “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” arranged by Mack Wilberg. “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” is one of the Choir’s most popular videos on its YouTube channel. Watch:
Read the full Salt Lake Tribune story.