Former Penn State graduate student Justin Lewis will have the opportunity to conduct the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Music and the Spoken Word” — a radio broadcast that began in 1929 — is now broadcast on the television and on the Internet.
Lewis, who graduated in 2010 with three degrees through the Penn State School of Music, is set to conduct Beethoven’s “Hallelujah” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Lewis said the piece is about five minutes long and that he has been “studying the score and learning what everyone is doing” since finding out he won the contest to guest conduct during basic training for the U.S. Air Force, as a Second Lieutenant.
As a conductor for the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band, Lewis said the band and the choir are very patriotic, “reminding us of how grateful we are for our freedom.”
Lewis entered the Facebook contest, in which entrants had to submit a video of themselves creatively conducting to “Hallelujah.”
He said the contest was “a really cool excuse to use the new video camera and to do something.”
In the video, Lewis can be seen conducting in various locations, including in front of a battleship.
“I felt a little ridiculous filming the video but the result came out looking less ridiculous than when I was just standing out in the middle of the street,” Lewis said.
Michael Jensen, director of communications at Deseret Book, the company that put the Facebook contest together, said Lewis’ video was “very well done and professional.”
Jensen said Deseret Book — the “distribution arm” of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — “looks for ways we can engage the choir’s fans and create a special experience for someone.”
“I expect Justin to be very professional and do his very best,” said Jensen of Lewis’ opportunity to conduct the 360-person choir and the 80-piece orchestra.
Gerardo Edelstein, director of orchestral studies for the Penn State School of Music, said Lewis is a multifaceted musician who completed his masters in both cello performance and orchestral conducting.
Edelstein said conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would be a great experience for Lewis.
“For us to have a former student have the opportunity to conduct a group like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is an honor for the school,” Edelstein said.