Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Virginia's Sen. Warner, to be choir's guest conductor

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square to perform at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

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Mack Wilberg, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, paid a visit on June 22 to U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) to give him some advice.

By the senator's own admission, he needed to hear what Brother Wilberg had to say and, more important, observe the music director in action. The advice and direction were specific: how to conduct the choir and Orchestra at Temple Square during that evening's concert at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.

Photo by Gerry Avant
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), left, receives direction from Mack Wilberg on how to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sen. Warner will lead the choir in an encore number at the June 22 concert at Wolf Trap.

Sen. Warner hinted that he is not the most musically inclined member of the Senate. "In third grade for our Christmas play I was one of the three wise men and, literally, and the teacher told me to just mouth the words," he said of his singing ability.

He claimed he wasn't much better on instruments, saying that he was further stunted in his musical experience when he took up tenor saxophone and was in his middle school's marching band. The big event for his small town was the homecoming parade, during which the middle school's marching band got to play with the high school's band.

"I was so dreadful," Sen. Warner said. "I couldn't march and play and keep time so the band director would make me march in front of the whole band, hoping to shame me into doing it right. I would dread homecoming day."

He said that directing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square will help him overcome that "crushing blow" of his school days' musical experience. "I want to get some pictures of me directing," he said with a wide grin, perhaps hinting at the possibility of sharing them with a few critics of his childhood experiences with music.

Brother Wilberg assured Sen. Warner that he will do fine directing the encore, which will be "This Land Is Your Land."

"The hardest part is getting started," Brother Wilberg said. "All you need to do is stand in front of the orchestra, look at the concert master, lift your arms, come to a full stop, and give the down beat."

The choir and orchestra will take care of the rest, Brother Wilberg said.

The Tabernacle Choir began its tour with a concert Monday evening at Norfolk, Va., and will continue with concerts in Philadelphia, Pa.; on Thursday, June 24, Chautauqua, N.Y., on Saturday, June 25, and Toronto, Alberta, Canada, on Monday, June 27.