Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Conference Center Organ a Jewel of Its Own

The Choir’s second home is across the street from the Tabernacle at the Conference Center, a one-of-a-kind 21,000 seat facility with its own pipe organ. In the summer, with scores of tourists visiting Temple Square, the Conference Center easily accommodates everyone attending the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. Special organ recitals are also performed there in the summer.

When President Brigham Young directed the building of the Tabernacle, he was building for the future as was President Gordon B. Hinckley when he announced plans for the Conference Center in 1996. Today, the Choir and Orchestra thrill audiences in the spacious facility with its summer broadcasts, Pioneer Day concerts and other special events. At Christmas time, the Choir again takes up residence for its highly popular concerts and other December events.

Just as in the Tabernacle, a pipe organ towers above the Conference Center choir loft, a prized signature of the music performed by the world famous Choir. “The challenge was to put a smaller instrument in a space that is four times larger and make it work,” said John Longhurst, former Tabernacle organist who shepherded the building and installation of the instrument. “No one had ever put an organ in a space that size before.”

“With 130 ranks compared to 206 in the Tabernacle and 7,708 individual pipes versus 11,623 in the Tabernacle, the Conference Center organ had to be much larger in scale and speak under higher wind pressure than the Tabernacle organ in order to project the sound.” As a result, Longhurst explains, “The Conference Center organ has a pedal department that is really something quite incredible.”

Thirty-minute organ recitals are given in the Tabernacle Monday through Saturday at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Performances are by the Tabernacle organists and guest organists. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a second recital is added at the Conference Center on Monday through Saturday at 2:00 p.m.