A few years ago, we were invited by some good friends to see a Christmas concert their kids were participating in. We were happy to be invited, and of course, wanted to support our friends and their kids! So we headed to Salt Lake City expecting a fun evening.
But when we walked into Abravanel Hall, we knew something was going on that we didn’t understand. The place was buzzing — it was packed full of people, with a tangible excitement in the air. We took our seats, and when the lights went down, nearly 1000 musicians flooded the stage and filled the balconies around us. When the music began, we were hit with a wall of sound unlike anything we’d ever heard. The quality of instrumentation, singing, and arrangement was truly incredible — by the time the concert was over, it felt like every person in attendance had been profoundly moved.
That was our first introduction to Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, known as MCO, founded in 2007 by Brett and Brandon Stewart — and now home to over 4,000 musicians in five different chapters.
Brett and Brandon are brothers, both with incredible musical resumes. Brett received a doctorate degree in choral conducting with cognate studies in composition from the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music, a master’s degree in choral conducting from California State University, Long Beach, and a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from BYU. All in all, he’s been teaching music for nearly three decades, and is an accomplished conductor, composer, pianist, and vocalist.
Brandon received a bachelor’s degree from BYU before going on to receive a Master’s Degree from Juilliard, and being invited to complete a doctorate program and teach at Juilliard — before choosing to instead join his brother Brett and found MCO. In addition to his talents as a conductor, composer, and vocalist, Brandon has been second-prize winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and the first prize winner of the MTNA national collegiate piano competition.
Brett and Brandon tell the founding story in the episode itself, but here we’ll just say that these two have felt guided each step of this journey over the last fifteen years, including in some difficult moments that have turned into remarkable blessings for the choir and for audiences around the world.
We’re releasing this episode this week because over the next few weeks, MCO will be conducting its Christmas Concert series, with concerts in Utah, Arizona, California, Texas, and Idaho. You can still find tickets to the concerts and we can promise that you won’t be disappointed. To get those tickets, head to millennial.org.
You can also find a book about the MCO story, called Divine Orchestration, written by our friend Greg Trimble and available on Amazon.