Earlier this year, Glenn, Pat, and their families attended a performance of the Millennial Choir and Orchestra led by Brett and Brandon Stewart and were absolutely blown away by what they saw.
“This is the most amazing thing I’ve heard. They are better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We were riveted the entire night,” Glenn said of the group on radio this morning. “Now, here’s the amazing thing. This was an entirely volunteer orchestra and choir, and it starts ages 4 and up. It is the best experience you’ve ever heard… They’re from California and Arizona. I’m thinking all the way through, I’m thinking, oh, my gosh. If they lived in Dallas, if they worked in Dallas, I’d do quarterly shows with them. My mind is just racing. And I’m thinking, I’ve got to go backstage and beg these guys to move to Dallas. Well, at the end of the concert they say, ‘And we have an announcement. We’re going to be starting a new choir in Dallas.’ You’ve got to be kidding.”
Glenn got a chance to go backstage and meet the brothers, who are both Julliard graduates, after the show, and with the organization now expanding to Dallas, it sounds like we can expect to see some pretty exciting collaborations in the future. Auditions for the Dallas area will be held in the coming weeks and all information can be found at Millennial.org.
This morning, Glenn spoke to the Millennial Choir’s conductor Brandon Stewart about the history of the choir and orchestra, the standards he and his brother seek to maintain, and the process of composing a new American classic.
Read a transcript of the interview below:
GLENN: And I wanted to bring Brandon, Brandon Stewart. He is the conductor of the Millennial choir. It is all faiths, all ages, and it is volunteer and they are having tryouts in four different states, Brandon; is that right? They start next week?
BRANDON STEWART: Yeah, that’s right.
GLENN: Okay. Happening next week near Los Angeles, California; in Phoenix; in Provo, Utah; and Dallas, Texas. And you can bring your whole family. I was just meeting with a guy and he was watching last night. This morning, Robert, he was there, his whole family, and he’s wildly talented. And he said, man, he said, I know my daughter, she’s too young, but she wants to. And I said, Robert, your whole family ‑‑ first of all, she’s not too young, and your whole family could join and you could make this a family kind of thing. But let me just ask you, Brandon. You have standards, and they are different than the world’s traditional standards for volunteers. For instance, give me ‑‑ go in your code of conduct. What is that?
BRANDON STEWART: The code of conduct for our singers, it sounds kind of scary that it’s called code of conduct, but really it’s just a way for us to encourage our participants to have upstanding values and to represent themselves in decent ways ‑‑ in a decent way as they represent Millennial choirs and orchestras. We want this to be something that is a positive impact in the community and so we ask them to be decent people. And then in addition to that, our code of conduct requires that they are committing to the rehearsals and they are going to work hard and basically do what we encourage them to do musically so that we can be, you know, one cohesive unit as a musical organization.
GLENN: Brandon, how do you do ‑‑ because I went and I saw you in Phoenix because you’re actually working on Man in the Moon 2, and I want to talk a little bit about that if we ‑‑ if we have time. How do you ‑‑ how do you get teenagers? Because I watched you rehearse teenagers, and they were on the edge of the seat as they are rehearsing. There wasn’t any fooling around, there wasn’t any ‑‑ I mean, it was discipline city and it was amazing to watch. I don’t mean it was discipline city like it was a, you know, torture chamber. You didn’t have to discipline. They self‑disciplined. How do you ‑‑
BRANDON STEWART: That’s right. That’s right. They ‑‑ these kids, first of all, are just awesome. The teenagers are one of the most fun groups that we have to work with. I think that the formula there is that we have a mutual respect for one another, and we have a lot of fun when it’s time to have fun. And when it’s time to really work and crank down, we do that. I think that they love the music because we hand‑select music for all of our choirs and orchestras that is exciting, that’s motivating, that’s challenging and ‑‑
GLENN: Really challenging.
BRANDON STEWART: That praises God. They have a reverence for what they’re singing about, which I think is unique, especially today.
GLENN: Give me the qualifications and if anybody is interested in any of those cities. Give me the qualifications of what you’re looking for and what they ‑‑ should they expect at a tryout.
BRANDON STEWART: Absolutely. First of all, our motto is all ages, all faiths, one voice. And you mentioned that earlier. But we welcome people of all different walks of life from the community and pretty much all ages. I mean, it starts at age 4 and goes up.
GLENN: Hang on. You have atheists in the orchestra, if I’m not mistaken, right? You have people who don’t believe in God?
BRANDON STEWART: We do. We have all kinds.
GLENN: So ‑‑
BRANDON STEWART: All different types. So…
GLENN: You don’t have to go to a church or anything like that. You can ‑‑
PAT: But you ostracize them, right? You ostracize the atheists?
GLENN: Well, they were sitting in the atheist section, yeah.
PAT: They’re shunned.
BRANDON STEWART: I mean ‑‑
GLENN: They’re forced to ‑‑
BRANDON STEWART: You know, we’ll sing about God and so if it’s an atheist who’s comfortable singing about God, then they are more than welcome to come. So…
GLENN: Right. Right.
BRANDON STEWART: But the auditions are for the adults only. The children and youth do not have to audition. They just register online at millennial.org. And the adults need to have some sort of musical experience or musical background or at least be able to sing.
GLENN: Okay. So Brandon, I sang all through high school, but I haven’t ‑‑ I haven’t sung except at church since. That’s enough?
BRANDON STEWART: Yeah, I think you’d be surprised at how many people fit that description that are in our choirs already.
GLENN: And so what do they have to ‑‑ do they have to prepare something for you, or what are you going to do when you get there?
BRANDON STEWART: Yeah, all the information is online and we have auditions coordinators that help them prepare. And really it’s one of the shortest auditions of their life. And they will come in and sing a little bit or play a little bit and we’ll ask them to play some things and prepare some excerpts from some music or just a hymn or whatever and then they will sing, we’ll get to know them briefly and then we let them know. So it’s very simple.
PAT: I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb on a touchtone phone. Is that something you’re interested in?
GLENN: Don’t take Pat. Don’t take Pat.
PAT: Because I think I can bring that to the table for your choir.
GLENN: Don’t take Pat. Brandon, why did you ‑‑ why did you guys start this?
BRANDON STEWART: It initially was not our plan to do this. We felt inspired to do it and we didn’t quite know why other than the fact that we knew that something like this was needed in the area that we were at in California and so we started it. And then it just kind of went from there. There were people in different areas in the nation, and there still are people all over who are requesting this type of thing in their community. And I think that the reason it’s so needed is because, like you said earlier, it’s including all families and people of all different faiths and walks of life. And music speaks the universal language. It’s unifying the community, and it’s such a positive experience for these people.
GLENN: I will tell you that I ‑‑ and I’ve told you this, Brandon, but let me tell the audience. That I was sitting in that crowd and I listened, and as you played songs, I had so many feelings, but one of them was this needs to go all over the country. These have to pop up all over the country because of the bright, bright light that, it’s an explosion of light. And I couldn’t believe when you guys said that was exactly what you guys were trying to do. I just couldn’t believe it. I know it to be true, and I know it to be right. The Stewart brothers came with me to New York a few weeks ago because they had been ‑‑ you had been trying to talk to your brother ‑‑ or talk your brother into writing something about America, a new American piece.
BRANDON STEWART: Yes.
GLENN: And for about at the same time as I had been walking around going, “There’s got to be a new American piece,” and the way you guys described it is exactly the way, what I was describing of what to avoid and that is “The Constitution is great! We the people…” and it would just be awful.
BRANDON STEWART: (Laughing.)
GLENN: And so I brought these guys into the library and started telling them stories about America and they are now setting a story for Man in the Moon called The Journey. They are setting this to music. And if you’ve ever wanted to be a part of some of the things that we do, and I think this one will be one for the history books. If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of this creative process, this is the way to do it because it will be this orchestra and this choir that helps us put this new piece, this American piece of music and the American story to music in the coming year. And we have only one piece of music that is if I understand, and it is phenomenal, just phenomenal. And I am proud to even know these guys. But if you want to ‑‑ if you want to try out and audition, again it’s in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Provo, Dallas. It’s Millennial ‑‑ is it just millennial.org?
BRANDON STEWART: Millennial.org, that’s right.
GLENN: Millennial, so you also have to be a speller. You can’t ‑‑ millennial.org. And when do they start? When do the tryouts start?
BRANDON STEWART: They start next week and in all four locations. All the dates are online on the calendar.
GLENN: Okay. Millennial.org. You will not be disappointed. And I ‑‑ we hope to be doing some ‑‑ many more things on television with the orchestra and we’re working on something now called the performance that I think you’re going to ‑‑ you’ll just be ‑‑ you’ll just love and want to be a part of. So please, if you have any talent, an instrument or music and your family, you can go as a single or you can go as a family and try out. Millennial.org. And I would recommend highly that if you’re looking for some standards, some quality, and something that will uplift and do tremendous good that you can’t even understand until you sit and listen to this choir, go there and be a part of this. Millennial.org. Brandon, thank you. We’ll see you soon.
BRANDON STEWART: Thank you.
GLENN: You bet. Bye‑bye. Tremendous, tremendous people.