Parade's Nancy Berk interviewed Mack Wilberg of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in her "Whine at 9" weekly entertainment podcast. She said she "had no idea of the intricacies of the institution" until she chatted with the director.
In the interview, Berk asked Wilberg how the choir finds and retains singers, as well as what went into the creation of their newest album called "Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends," which features popular artists such as Sting, Yo-Yo Ma and David Foster.
Wilberg explained that over 200 people apply to audition for the choir every year, which takes about 10 months from start to finish. He also noted that choir members can only sing for 20 years or until they reach 60 years old.
Just last week, the choir had 22 members retire. Thirty-two new singers were then initiated, he said.
But — when Berk asked if the process, which she thought sounded extensive, was worthy of a reality show, Wilberg was sheepish.
"Well, we probably could because the audition process from beginning to end, from the time that they submit a CD of their voice, to the time that they are admitted to the choir is from July to April of the next year, so it is a long process," he told Berk. "But we perform anywhere from 300 to 400 pieces a year, and we just have to have singers who can produce at a very high level in a very short time. So our audition process is rather involved."
Wilberg told Berk that even though he loves music, he likes to spend his time driving home after a long day at the office in silence.
”Usually all I want is peace and quiet when I’m driving home," he said. "I have about a 25-minute drive home from Temple Square, where we do most of our performances, and I sort of savor those 25 minutes of just peace and quiet.”
“It’s also a great time to just synthesize and think about what you just did," he added.
Read more about the podcast here, or listen to it for free on iTunes.