The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced today that Mack Wilberg will officially replace Craig Jessop as the new music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
"Today is fantastic day," Choir President Mac Christensen said as he addressed members of the press in a press conference held at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to announce Wilberg's appointment.
"How could we be more blessed?" he asked.
Also announced was the appointment of Edgar Thompson as interim assistant to Wilberg until a new associate music director is appointed. Christensen said a nation-wide search will be launched to fill the position, adding that he hoped a replacement could be announced in October.
Choir members were informed of Wilberg's appointment during Thursday night's weekly choir rehearsal. Christensen said they were excited, indicating that choir members stood, applauded and cried to have Wilberg as their new director.
"Wilberg is a genius," Christensen said. "Choir members are so thrilled."
Prior to his appointment, Wilberg served as associate music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and conductor of the Temple Square Chorale. He is internationally recognized for his choral compositions and arrangements and published exclusively with Oxford University Press.
In accepting the appointment Wilberg said he is "very honored and humbled." With the help of Thompson, Wilberg hopes to continue the great tradition and legacy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but will miss working with Jessop.
"We have become the very best of friends," Wilberg said of his relationship with Jessop. "In fact, I consider him my best friend."
Still, Wilberg said, life with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has to move on without missing a beat. He said the Choir will start working on a new recording project in May and will begin practicing for their summer concerts. During the next couple of months, he said they will start planning and practicing for the Christmas concert.
"Being involved with an organization like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is like being on a speeding train that does not stop to let its passengers off," Wilberg said.
Wilberg said he likes that kind of pressure. "It's the very best kind of pressure, he said.
He also indicated that having Thompson working with him will help with the burden, as Thompson brings a wealth of musical talent to the interim position. He has been the music director for the University of Utahs A Cappella Choir, as well as former conductor of the Utah Symphony Chorus and a former member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
According to Thompson, it was just a few days ago that he was contacted by Wilberg about the interim position. He said it was a great honor to be asked to take on this responsibility until a replacement can be found.
"Life is full of surprises," Thompson said.