I don't know how many of you actually follow (or care about) such things as who got the associate conductor position with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but I do. And I was extremely excited to see that the job had been given to Ryan Murphy, a friend of mine from college.
After I got over the fact that yes, I am that old, I was really happy. Not just for Ryan, but for the choir. He is amazing and I know the choir will love him.
Anyway, in honor of his new appointment, I thought I'd share an old college story that involves both him and Dr. Mack Wilberg. It's probably one of my favorite Concert Choir stories ever, and those of you who were there probably already know exactly which story I'm about to tell. But most of you were definitely not there, and it's worth hearing (or reading, as the case may be).
So, anyway, Ryan was one of the accompanists in Concert Choir, and a superb one, at that. One day, while we were singing along and he was playing along, he must not have been watching Dr. Wilberg as closely as he should have, because he missed a major cue to slow down.
Dr. Wilberg stopped, looked at Ryan and said, "More on ritard!"
And the entire choir erupted in laughter, except for Dr. Wilberg, who said, "What? Did I say something wrong?"
At which Ryan calmly answered, "You just called me a moron and a retard."
I don't really think that joke ever died. Not as long as Ryan was in the choir, anyway. In fact, under Ryan's picture in the next year's choir directory, it said "I enjoy being called moron and retard."
Now, lest you think that I somehow approve of the usage of either of these words, I will say that I definitely don't. It was only funny because it was completely unintentional. I always warn Joel to be careful what he says to his orchestra when he wants them to slow down more, as "more on ritard" is perhaps not the best choice of words.
You may have heard of the campaign the Special Olympics is running called "Spread the word to end the word." I think it's wonderful.
So I'm spreading the word.
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