Bob Chilcott, a former member of the King's Singers, is a great composer and arranger as well as choral conductor from England. Anton Armstrong, considered a pioneer in American acappella music today, conducts choirs at St. Olaf's College in Minnesota and is one of the most sought after adjudicators and clinicians in the country. My colleagues in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who are choral teachers themselves were delighted and awed to sing under the batons of both of these wonderful conductors. One friend had spent the day before in masterclass sessions with her children's choir under the baton of Bob Chilcott. She was happy to have a second dose of inspiration from these wonderful choral masters.
Mack Wilberg is also considered a giant among choral conductors in the world today. These men are friends and colleagues. He told us that he had thrown out the invitation to come guest conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to each of them separately in casual conversations years before. He never imagined that they would both be in Utah and available to guest conduct on the very same weekend. It posed a challenge for us because that weekend was just after our mammoth Messiah concert and just before our massive week of recording it, oh yes and the Mother's Day Broadcast was in there, too.
Each conductor chose two pieces for the Broadcast from their own repertoire. These pieces were not our normal fare. Mack tried his best to squeeze in some preparation time into our overloaded schedule. Anton Armstrong had us sing a gorgeous acappella piece that really tested our mettle. It was written with no time signatures. Nearly every measure was in a different meter. Once we got the hang of it, we enjoyed singing it very much. Bob Chilcot had us sing two of his original pieces that were just beautiful. We had the unique experience of learning different perspectives of performance from two very different conductors and had a marvelous time. Although, we regularly enjoy singing in Choral Heaven under the baton of our own conductor, we were triply blessed to sing under two more masterful conductors, as well.