Tabernacle Choir’s ‘logistical wiz’ Barry Anderson retiring after more than 2 decades

Barry Anderson’s seemingly endless list of duties when The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square is touring has included aspects of wardrobe, staging, scheduling, accounting, logistics, catering and, yes, simply making sure each of the hundreds of choir and orchestra members gets on the right bus.

But all of Anderson’s legendary multi-tasking has been anchored to a single goal: Do all that’s needed behind the scenes so when music director Mack Wilberg raises his baton and the music of the gospel begins, it can be delivered to the audience at its most edifying, uplifting level.

Now the Choir’s affable “logistical wiz” and administrative manager is concluding what his colleagues aptly call a “heroic” performance. Anderson is retiring this month after 21 years of service.

“Privileged” is a word Anderson kept coming back to when he spoke with the Church News about stepping away from the Choir. “I feel so grateful and privileged for the time that I’ve had here — and for any contributions that I have made from my areas of responsibilities with the Choir,” he said. 

Like a pro athlete who opts to retire while still at the top of their game, Anderson is happy to be moving on while his professional skills are still sharp.

Playing a key role in more than two decades of organizing and executing several Choir and orchestra tours and activities leaves the departing Anderson with priceless memories. He is quick to recall the Choir’s involvement in the historic 2002 Nauvoo Temple dedication and the popular 2016 European Tour. 

Wherever in the world the Choir has performed, Anderson has relished watching local Latter-day Saints and their neighbors leave that day’s concert unified and uplifted. “Another memory that I’ll take with me is the camaraderie of our Choir staff over the past 20-pluse years.”

And while Anderson did not sing or play a single note on stage during his Choir tenure, he had some ownership in its success “by just trying to do my job the very best that I could.”

Besides his tour duties, Anderson has also overseen the Choir’s budgeting and financial operations, along with managing the needs of the Orchestra.

Even after more than 20 years on the job, Anderson still marvels at the logistical challenges exacted by a Choir and orchestra tour. The Choir’s 2018 Classic Coast Tour, for example, utilized more than a dozen buses, four semi-tractor trailers and a small army of support and travel staff. Anderson’s attention to logistical details — right down to making sure each Choir member’s luggage is hand-delivered to his or her room — benefits both the performers and their eager audiences.

“We have evolved to become a very efficient traveling show,” he said. “We have refined things to where the Choir members are able to be well-rested, well-fed and prepared for each performance.”

“Barry is great at what he does,” said Wilberg. “You always hear the phrase, ‘No one is indispensable’. But in Barry’s case, he will certainly be missed. He is leaving behind big shoes that someone else is going to fill.”

The Choir’s music director most appreciated Anderson’s guiding commitment “to the music coming first — and everything else supporting that.” 

With Barry Anderson, he added, “You never have to worry about the big details — or the small details. We know that they will be taken care of. Barry can anticipate your needs and thoughts before you even have them.”

Anderson laments that the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately waylaid the Choir and Orchestra’s Heritage Tour that was to have included performances through Scandinavia and several cities in the United Kingdom. But he is at peace that he and his associates in the Choir did all they could within their power to pull off the tour.

So what does a “get-it-done” guy do now as a “retired guy?” 

Plenty.

The master gardener, golf enthusiast and grandfather will be tending to his flowers, knocking a few strokes off his handicap and chasing after his grandkids. Anderson and his wife, Becky, also recently bought a motorhome to haunt their favorite fishing locales. He also plans to stay involved in some non-profit efforts that will bless others.

And yes, Anderson still plans to arise each Sunday morning and enjoy the weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast.

 “But now,” he said, grinning, “I’ll be waking up at 9:20 for the 9:30 broadcast.”