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School of Music

Mack Wilberg Urges Students in the School of Music to Stay Curious

Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg is a former professor and alum of the BYU School of Music

Long before he became a household name as a beloved composer, arranger and conductor and as the music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Mack Wilberg was a teenage musician attending BYU summer camps.

“Coming to BYU, I could have easily felt intimidated — I was surrounded by youth who had much more exposure to the things of the world than I did,” recounted Wilberg in his March 12 Oscarson Lecture. “But as soon as we began making music together, any concerns about that vanished. Music is a great equalizer. If you're willing to work at music, it works on you and everyone around you. It gives you a voice, confidence, a sense of purpose. It creates common ground, and it fosters unity with people who are different from you in a way that almost nothing else can.” Once a student — and later a professor — at BYU, Wilberg returned to the Madsen Recital Hall for a lecture that would prove to be the last in-person gathering for the School of Music before the implementation of campus COVID-19 protocol. As “one who has sat where you are sitting today,” Wilberg shared observations and advice from his career, including an appeal for young musicians and artists to stay curious. “I have observed that curious musicians are generally better equipped to present music in interesting, compelling, engaging and relevant ways,” he said. “This is critically important in our present age of little or no attention span and the lamentable hunger for instant gratification. Those who act on their curiosity throughout their lives gradually, steadily build up a wealth of insight and experience that allows them to help satisfy the world's hunger for beauty, meaning and even spirituality. It does take effort, but making that effort through the years can lead to genuine satisfaction.” Read more about Wilberg's lecture at the School of Music website.