Contest winner conducts Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A lifelong musician who won a contest redeemed his prize Sunday as he served as a guest conductor for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during their Music and the Spoken Word program.

Justin Lewis won the contest with his video, which showed him conducting Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy” in various places around Washington D.C.

Lewis is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and he is the associate conductor of the USAF Heritage of America Band.

Lewis said the tabernacle choir has always been a big part of his life, and their music has helped him. He said conducting the choir was a magical experience for him.

“It felt like a dream,” he said. “I felt like I was Mickey Mouse in ‘Fantasia.' There’s all these wonderful musicians everywhere, and they’re so responsive and so kind, in addition to being great musicians.”

Lewis said he found out he had won the competition while he was in the midst of officer training, which he said served as a timely pick-me-up.

“I was in my first week of basic officer training,” he said. “It’s a pretty intense week for the Air Force. A Lot of push ups, a lot of running, a lot of other stuff from training instructors, so I could use a little good news that week. So to find out that I had this great opportunity to come out here and have the choir and Deseret Book bring me out was really exciting and really helped me get through officer training.”

Lewis said he relished the experience while he had the chance, and he is grateful for the opportunity.

““This has been an awesome opportunity that I’ll remember forever,” he said. “It’s sort of like driving a race car: You can’t afford it, you just enjoy it while you’re test driving it.”