WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg paid a visit this morning 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 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 this evening's concert at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.

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, the teacher told me to just mouth the words."

He claimed he wasn't much better on instruments, saying 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," 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, perhaps hinting at the possibility of sharing them with a few critics of his childhood experiences with music.

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

"The hardest part is getting started," 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, Wilberg said.

The Tabernacle Choir began its tour with a concert Monday evening at Norfolk, Va., and will continue with concerts Thursday in Philadelphia, Pa., Saturday in Chautauqua, N.Y., and Monday in Toronto.

EMAIL: gerry@desnews.com