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Tabernacle Choir’s master of logistics and planning retires after 21 years of service

See an example of how logistical wizard Barry Anderson got the choir’s voices where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.

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Barry Anderson is retiring as The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager after 21 years.

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, poses for a portrait in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 17, 2022. Anderson is retiring after 21 years.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square took time Sunday to commemorate the farewell of a man who is considered the “father and certainly the shepherd of the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Barry Anderson, the choir’s administrative manager, logistical master and unsung hero in the shadows, is retiring after more than 21 years of service.

Anderson received a lengthy standing ovation from the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, along with personal tributes from President Michael O. Leavitt and music director Mack Wilberg this past weekend.

“I feel confident that each person in this choir and orchestra and our combined choir organization know in their heart the profound contribution that he has made, the faithfulness both in personal and professional ways that he has provided,” said Leavitt, who referred to Anderson as the orchestra’s “father and shepherd.” “And I think all of us will be sympathetic with the fact that words are simply not sufficient.”

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, answers interview questions in the Conference Center.

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, answers interview questions in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 17, 2022. Anderson is retiring after 21 years.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

“We’ve been comrades in arms for over 20 years and as the president has already said, words can’t express my own personal appreciation and love for you,” Wilberg said. “I don’t know how we’re going to replace you. ... Just know of my personal appreciation and love for you and we’re going to miss you.”

The Tabernacle Choir also sang a heartfelt rendition of “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.”

“You always hear people say, ‘You’ll know when it’s time.’ I’ve been thinking, ‘How does that work?’” the 66-year-old Anderson said. “But you get to a point where you say, ‘I’ve done a lot of what I wanted to accomplish, I feel good about it,’ and you get a feeling of maybe it’s time to venture out into some new areas. ... Let’s see what else there is.”

Who is Barry Anderson?

Anderson joined the choir’s administrative staff in 2001.

Before working with the choir, Anderson graduated of the University of Utah and spent 26 years working for a large food distributor as director of human resources, director of sales and marketing and division president.

One day he found himself in a Mr. Mac store talking with a friend and the son of Mac Christensen, then the new president of the Tabernacle Choir. A week later he received a call from President Christensen, who requested he send a copy of his resume. This led to a series of interviews with people in the choir, but Anderson was the president of a Fortune 500 company.

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, poses for a portrait in the Conference Center.

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, poses for a portrait in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 17, 2022. Anderson is retiring after 21 years.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Eventually Christensen called and informed Anderson that his wife had granted permission so he could work for the Tabernacle Choir.

“Oh, well, that’s nice,” Anderson said. “Did you and my wife figure out how we were going to pay bills?”

Even so, he met with the staff and was offered a job.

“It was a leap of faith,” he said. “I thought, ‘When would you ever get a chance to do this?’ I talked it over with my wife and I took a humongous pay cut and came to work for the choir. It’s been a wonderful 21 years.”

Wizard of logistics

As the choir’s administrative manager, he oversaw the choir’s budgeting and financial operations as well as the management needs of the Orchestra at Temple Square. His duties involved scheduling and coordinating events, wardrobe, catering, scouting locations for hotels and venues, creating detailed plans and itineraries and handling complex logistics for tours.

Did he ever feel overwhelmed by the job?

Not really. At one point he realized he rarely got sick, he could eat anything and he could sleep anywhere.

“I’ve always felt like I was given a set of skills that allowed me to do this,” he said. “And so I worked hard. When we would go out on tours and those kinds of things. I always felt very prepared. I always felt confident that our plans were good.” 

One example of Anderson’s logistical wizardry was demonstrated when the choir was on tour in Minnesota in 2013. Anderson insisted the choir use multi buses to transport its members but never filled them to full capacity, leaving plenty of extra seats. When one bus broke down 250 miles from Minneapolis, Anderson filled the other buses with the stranded choir members and everyone arrived in time for the concert.

Mack Wilberg, TheTabernacle Choir at Temple Square music director, and Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager.

Mack Wilberg, TheTabernacle Choir at Temple Square music director, and Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, pose for a portrait in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 17, 2022. Anderson is retiring after 21 years.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Reflections of Tabernacle Choir service

Many have inquired about Anderson’s thoughts and feelings as retirement approached.

“There’s two words that continually come to mind as I’ve as I’ve reflected on this,” he said in addressing the choir and orchestra. “The first is ‘gratitude’ that somehow I landed here 21 years ago and was able to contribute. And for that, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for so many relationships that I’ve made over the years and mentors that I’ve had and those kinds of things.”

The second word is that comes to mind is “privileged.”

“We were reminiscing with some folks last Friday and I can’t remember all of the just unbelievable experiences until something clicks or I read a journal,” he said. “I think, ‘How in the world did that happen to me? How was I put in that that spot?’”

Anderson remembers the first time he met with President Gordon B. Hinckley in his office.

“I just remember thinking when I was at West High, who would have ever thought I would have ended up here, at least for something good,” Anderson said. “But it’s just been an incredible run that way.”

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, poses for a portrait in the Conference Center.

Barry Anderson, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square administrative manager, poses for a portrait in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 17, 2022. Anderson is retiring after 21 years.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

What’s next for Barry Anderson?

Anderson hopes to reconnect with his joy of golfing, gardening and fishing, not to mention spending more time with his family.

He’s been in 35 countries over the last two decades, so he’s not really interested in traveling.

“I’d like to be home, get into a regular routine and enjoy life,” Anderson said.

He will put some energy into working with a nonprofit that deals with addiction recovery.

Anderson will also continue to love and appreciate the Tabernacle Choir and its music.

“What a sense of satisfaction,” he said. “I never sang, I never performed with them, was never on stage, but anytime they sang, it felt so good and I knew what it took to get them there. I’ll always have this great sense of satisfaction. It’s been 21 years of just unbelievable experiences and I feel privileged to have helped.”