Man behind Tabernacle Choir for 22 years retires

Jun 23, 2022, 8:21 PM | Updated: 8:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the great legends of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square is retiring.

For 22 years, Barry Anderson handled the logistics of moving 700 people on tours throughout the world, among other feats. It was a job that required an extremely organized brain, a great sense of humor, and a lot of faith.

“You have all your contingencies and backup… and the protection of the Lord over his choir,” Anderson said, who also credits his wife for supporting him during long nights of planning and long trips. “I’ve said many times, I have the perfect wife for what I have done over the last 20 years.”

Music director Mack Wilberg said he never worried about the logistics because he knew Anderson had taken care of even the smallest detail.

“What I’ve always appreciated about Barry is he’s always said the music comes first and then everything will fall in place after that.”

“To see the performance, the people in the audience crying and all those kinds of things, and really feeling the message of the music, that was the best part of my job,” Anderson said.

When planning tours, Anderson said he doesn’t start at the beginning.

“I see everybody arriving home safely and then I work backwards. It’s kind of a weird way I’m wired. I think of all of the places we’re going, and the itinerary is cemented in my head.”

Anderson organized tours for The Tabernacle Choir in some of the world’s finest concert halls and most famous venues in more than 30 countries, rain or shine.

The Tabernacle Choir in Nuremberg, Germany. (The Tabernacle Choir) The Tabernacle Choir in Frankfurt, Germany. (The Tabernacle Choir) The Tabernacle Choir in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. (The Tabernacle Choir) The Tabernacle Choir in front of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. (The Tabernacle Choir)

“I used to tell people when we would be presenting the choir, they say, ‘What about the weather?’ I don’t worry about the weather. We’ve never been rained out.”

However, one concert required the use of a helicopter to dry the grass after a downpour in Cincinnati.

“It was 20 feet off the ground and it was drying the grass, because at that venue, you sat outside,” Anderson recalled.

Blistering heat, flat tires, and sparse hotel rooms were also no match for Anderson.

“We literally went from hotel to hotel to hotel to grab every room that was available.”

On top of his tour duties, Anderson also handled human resources and managed The Orchestra at Temple Square.

“Barry is one of several behind-the-scenes people who have been the secret to the success of the choir organization for many years. To say we are going to miss him is an understatement,” Wilberg said.

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Man behind Tabernacle Choir for 22 years retires