Friday, November 15

My Audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Phase III

November 13th came, and I dressed up and arrived to door 25 of the Tabernacle ready to sing "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" in the key of F.

My audition time was at 3:40, which was interesting... since most of the auditions had actually happened a week earlier. I had heard some horror stories from friends of friends, but they didn't really sound all that horrific. I mean, how horrific is it to ask someone to sing without vibrato? Unless you're an opera star and can't. Then I guess that would strike horror.

I arrived and got two pieces of paperwork to fill out. One talked about choir expectations, along with the attendance requirements, etc, and the other was a volunteer performer contract/release. That's so that the choir, or the Church, can use my likeness/voice/name/anything however they want in perpetuity throughout the universe without having to do any more legal footwork in the future. One thing caught my attention though - in something like section 10 of the contract, it said that I committed to never blogging or publishing any article through media or social media that was directly or indirectly about the Church, the Choir, or any of its affiliated groups.


That's all I blog about. Or tweet about. That's a problem.

I starred that section for followup.

3:40 came and I went in to talk with the choir president, who explained the expectations of the choir and asked if I'd be able to meet them, and also asked me what prompted me to try out for the choir this year. I told him part of the long story that had brought me to his office, and he gave some advice about how to take it if I didn't get in. I think I'll be ok. :) We also talked about some other stuff, he commented that I looked relaxed, and I went on to the real part of the audition. Before I left, I asked about the social media policy.

He said that in the past social media was totally prohibited. Ever. You couldn't really talk about being in the choir or much of anything on social media. But... that had just changed and he was happy to relate that the new policy encouraged people to blog/tweet/facebook anything that was not detrimental or confidential.

Sigh of relief.

So I'm ok blogging about my experience as long as I don't share anything that shouldn't be part of public knowledge... and as long as I don't guess or project what will happen in the future to the choir.

The accompanist, Linda, met me in the hall outside Ron's office and we walked quickly downstairs; she asked what hymn I was singing, in which key, and mentioned that she would just give me a starting chord and we'd go.

It was really that fast.

I walked in, and stood at a music stand in front of a piano where Linda sat down. About 15-20 feet away from me Ryan and Mack sat at a long table covered in papers. Mack did most of the talking, thanked me for coming, and told me that I had been prayed for, so I could relax (cue the theatrical sigh). Then he said, "We'll invite you to sing a hymn of your choice in the key of your choice." And  Linda played the starting note for my song while I tried to say, "I'll be singing 'I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go' in the key of F." I didn't get to finish the statement, and began singing, definitely not ready.

I hadn't really taken a breath before beginning, and the rough start shook me up pretty bad... to the point that my voice was definitely not up to its normal par. They rifled through papers while I was singing. Mack stopped me before the chorus and said, "I see that you have a lot of musical theater background. Your voice has a pop-ish lilt to it... could you sing that again, and take the pop out? There's nothing wrong with it, just for our purposes... does that make sense?"

"Yeah, it does."

Linda played the starting notes again, and this time I was prepared.

I sang a solid tone, without added vibrato or pop inflection in the timing, and Mack and Ryan smiled. And I felt like I had redeemed myself.

Mack cut me off earlier that time. "That's great."

"If you would look at the first page, we're going to do some sight-singing. You signed up as a baritone - what part do you normally sing?"

"Um... I don't know. I sang first tenor in the opera, and second bass in my a cappella group."

"Yeah. That makes sense. People in musical theater usually end up running the gamut. We'll have you sing both then. Start with the tenor line. Linda will play the other three parts, and you'll sing yours."

I started singing and messed up the very first interval. He stopped me.

"Let's try again, and I'll help you with that first interval."

I made it through the song and messed up on the second to last note. But I could tell, and as he said, "You did great up until the very last measure," I sang the last measure again. Another smile, "That's it."

"Now try the bass line."

I sang the bass line, and, again, messed up the second to last note. And again, fixed it while he was explaining I had missed it.

"If you'll turn to the next page, you'll sing the part that's written there. Linda will give you the starting note, but after that you're on your own. The treble clef and bass clef are the same - you can sing from either part."

I read from the treble clef (I should have read from the bass... but it was really low on the page), and sang. And, again, messed up on the second to last note. "You did great until the..." and I fixed it. I see a pattern here.

The last sight-reading section was intervals. There were a bunch of measures with four notes in them; Linda gave me the starting pitch and I sang the measures on "La," following the rhythm and the pitch. The first few were easy, since I had practiced them. I hit one where I made a mistake, and Mack had me do it again. So I traced the places of the notes and fixed it. It happened again on the next one. The last interval... yeah. I think I did that one a dozen times. But I got it. And we all laughed when I did. That was my favorite part about the audition - getting honest, direct feedback and being able to put it into action, even though it was hard and stressful... and knowing that they really cared about me. I think I fell in love with Mack and Ryan during that measure. The real kind of love.

The last part was testing timbre and range. We had a discussion about which part I sang again, and then they had me go down... then up, all the way through falsetto/head voice. Mack remarked that usually you can tell what part people should sing just by listening to them. "But you're... somewhere between a tenor and a bass... that's good for you, because it means you're more flexible and you have more options." He said they would look at me based on their needs in the choir.

They said thank you, I said thank you, and I walked out while the next guy walked in.

And felt awesome.

The great part is that I feel like it was good enough. My biggest concern was that I would go to the audition and get in the way of what God wants to happen. That I would be so bad that, even if I was supposed to be in the choir, God wouldn't bother telling Mack and Ryan to say yes to me. But I feel like I was good enough that, now, it can be up to God to take care of it. If I get in, then I'll go there. "But if by a still small voice [God] calls to paths that I do not know..." I'll go where He wants me to go.

I should know in about two weeks, either way. Then choir school starts on January 2.

My Audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Resolution


  1. So you don't have to, but would you do it... would you give up blogging to be in the choir?

  2. How exciting. Mack Wilberg is one of my favorite people ever. While I've never lived in Utah except when attending college, the possibility of singing in Wilberg's choir almost convinces me to move there.

  3. A well written post, David. The timing for you to choose to audition now, rather than a year or more ago, was inspired.

  4. I smiled and chuckled to myself as I read this post. At least you were very consistent and they could anticipate where you would make a mistake. :)
    I like the way you relate stories and how you have the humility to just accept that the Lord's will is what it is and you are comfortable moving on with it. You're a great role model in that way. :)


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