Barry Anderson’s seemingly endless list of duties when the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square is on tour has included wardrobe, staging, scheduling, bookkeeping, logistics, meals and, yes, just making sure everyone of the hundreds of members of the choir and orchestra are on the right bus.
But all of Anderson’s legendary multitasking has been anchored to a single goal: to do whatever it takes behind the scenes so that when music director Mack Wilberg raises the baton and the gospel music begins, it can be broadcast to the audience at its finest, at an uplifting and uplifting level.
Now the affable “logistics genius” and administrative manager of the Choir is wrapping up what his colleagues aptly call a “heroic” performance. Anderson retires this month after 21 years of service.
“Privileged” is a word Anderson often referred to when speaking to the Church News about walking away from the Choir. “I feel very grateful and privileged for the time I’ve had here — and for any contributions I’ve made from my areas of responsibility with the Choir,” he said.
Like a professional athlete who chooses to retire while still at the peak of his career, Anderson is happy to move on while his professional skills are still strong.
Playing a key role in over two decades of organizing and executing various Choir and Orchestra tours and activities leaves Anderson with priceless memories. He is quick to recall the Choir’s participation in the historic 2002 Nauvoo Temple dedication and the popular 2016 European Tour.
Wherever the Choir has performed around the world, Anderson has enjoyed seeing local Latter-day Saints and their neighbors leave that day’s concert unified and uplifted. “Another memory I will take with me is the camaraderie of our Choir staff over the past 20 years.”
And while Anderson didn’t sing or play a single note onstage during her time with the Choir, she appropriated her success “just trying to do my job to the best of my ability.”
In addition to his touring duties, Anderson has also overseen the financial and budget operations of the Choir, as well as managing the needs of the Orchestra.
Even after more than 20 years in this role, Anderson still marvels at the logistical challenges involved in touring Choir and Orchestra. The 2018 Classic Coast Tour, for example, used more than a dozen buses, four semis, and a small army of travel and support staff. Anderson’s attention to logistical details — right down to ensuring that each Choir member’s luggage is personally delivered to her room — benefits both the performers and her enthusiastic audience.
“We’ve evolved into a very efficient traveling show,” he said. “We have refined things so that the members of the Choir can be well rested, well fed and prepared for each performance.”
“Barry is great at what he does,” Wilberg said. “You always hear the phrase, ‘No one is indispensable.’ But in Barry’s case, he will certainly be missed. He is leaving big shoes for someone else to fill.”
The Choir’s music director was very appreciative of Anderson’s commitment “to putting music first — and everything else behind it.”
With Barry Anderson, he added, “You never have to worry about the big details — or the little details. We know they will be taken care of. Barry can anticipate his needs and thoughts even before he has them.” Anderson laments that the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately canceled the Choir and Orchestra’s Heritage tour which was to have included performances in Scandinavia and various UK cities. But he is calm because he and his associates in the Choir did everything possible to carry out the tour.
So what does a man who is “always busy” do now as a “retired man”?
The gardener, golf enthusiast, and grandfather will care for his flowers, improve his golf game, and play with his grandchildren. Anderson and his wife, Becky, also recently bought an RV to frequent his favorite fishing spots. He also plans to stay involved in some non-profit endeavors that will benefit others.
And yes, Anderson still plans to get up every Sunday morning and enjoy the weekly “Music and Words of Inspiration” broadcast.
“But now,” he said, smiling, “I’ll wake up at 9:20 for the 9:30 broadcast.”