The skill and Dedication of the Orchestra Members
In 1999 violinist Meredith Campbell read about auditions for the soon to be organized Orchestra at Temple Square. All volunteer. She had begun playing the piano at age 4 and switched to the violin at age 8. Long hours of practice, summer music camps and university degrees followed. She had played with the Utah Symphony and jumped at the chance to be part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Organization. She has been performing in the violin section since that early audition. In the beginning, the Orchestra played on Music and Spoken Word broadcasts about every two months. It was an early training period for the Choir. Today, she is Concert Master.
The Orchestra began touring with the Choir in 2005. Fitting both the Choir and Orchestra in some venues is a primary concern in planning. “We are partners,” Campbell explains. “Accompanying the Choir is our primary purpose.” While they are memorizing 300 words for a song, we are working at perfecting 1,267 notes for the same piece. We want the Choir music to come over the top. We add to that and that’s what we are there to do.”
From a roster of 200 volunteers, about 65 instrumentalists provide front-and-center support to the Choir on tour. Most are professional musicians; others are music teachers, students, doctors, and accountants. These instrumentalists have spent 10,000 to 20,000 practicing for such an opportunity as this, Campbell suggests. “They have maintained their instrumental skills at a very high level.” This year is the Orchestra’s 15th anniversary.
“We know what we are doing here is the Lord’s work,” she says. “It is intriguing to bear your testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel with an instrument. We strive to be perfect to bring the spirit. We are at a disadvantage because we don’t have words which means we have to work harder.”
The moments that touch you, Campbell explains, aren’t the ones you expect.
She recalls performing in Denver on tour where she learned what she calls, “the eternal nature of patriotism.” In a concert for families who had lost loved ones in war, “I knew we were paying tribute to people who had given their lives for freedom. That’s when I connected to Christ giving his life for freedom just as those soldiers done.” She has never been the same.