5 manuals! And all those stops!

Last week I got to go to an Organ Workshop at the Conference Center. Brother Longhurst is in my stake and arranged to take us there. You must understand that I am NOT an organist. I took Organ 101 at BYU, so I knew a few basics, and then during the couple years I played the organ as my church calling [which I started right after Andrew Unsworth got released, I might add---I'm sure my first meeting was quite a rude awakening for the congregation] I was finally starting to get comfortable sightreading with the pedals. That's the extent of my skill. But, I was very excited to go see the conference center organ up close---and, Bro. Longhurst said we could even play it if we came prepared with something! So I practiced and practiced.

I took Abraham with me to the workshop, and we had the best time. There were probably 25 or 30 of us there. It was SO interesting to see the organ and the pipes (there are nearly 8000 of them) up close. Amazing to sit up in the choir seats of that hu-normic (or gigantimous, or whatever it is--my kids always get these words wrong and I'm starting not to know the true ones anymore) building and look out at the 21,000 seats. Awesome to hear Brother Longhurst demonstrate the varied capabilities of that imposing instrument. And MOST AMAZING of all to hear MYSELF producing that unmistakable pipe organ sound in that vast room---regal, full-bodied, resonant, magnificent. Brother Longhurst walked around me pulling out stops as I played, choosing registration that made me sound way better than any combination I would have known how to create myself. I played on each of the manuals (though not all at once). What an experience. It was unforgettable.

Abe, of course, was just as fascinated with everything as I was.  He liked the different background lights the organist can select:
The tallest pipe is 40 feet tall!

And we both greatly enjoyed getting right up next to the pipes and peering through to see the rows and rows of pipes behind.
Like this
And this.  Note the wooden pipes here---these make the woodwind sounds on the organ.

Abe didn't play, but got to sit at the organ.  He particularly liked the "secret drawer" with a midi recorder in it,  and the little blower tubes that can blow air on the organist if he gets too hot under the bright TV lights.

After the workshop ended, there were only a few of us gathering our stuff together, and Bro. Longhurst offered to take us to see back behind the pipes. Of course we jumped at the chance. (Abe: literally.) We got to go back through secret tunnels and elevators (secret to us, anyway!) and then into the organ casing. We climbed up through a trapdoor:
where we could see some teeny-tiny pipes like these (the smallest pipe on the organ is 3/4" long!)

Another narrow door brought us in to where we could walk all along a thin passageway to different divisions of the organ, tiptoeing around blowers and pipes and wires and casings. Abe and I kept whispering to each other, "Can you believe we're actually doing this?" It was so cool and so fascinating.

And here is my favorite picture of all: looking out at the conference center seats from behind the organ pipes!


  1. There is nothing about that place that isn't amazing and imposing. The experience I had sitting in the third row, middle - one row behind, six seats away from the prophet - and hearing the choir from that proximity - was one of the most potent I have ever had. When I talked to - oh, what was his name, who used to be the choir leader (I should have been asleep an hour ago at least), who had given me permission to sing with the choir one time (and I never did), we both used the same metaphor, trying to express to each other our reaction to the experience of standing so close to the choir:

    As if the voices and the music, as they sounded out, built a structure - invisible, but structural - all around us and above us, and somehow, we were hanging in it, far above ourselves, hovering near girders and cross beams across which light travelled like intelligence passing along synapses =

    Impossible to explain, but the pipes remind me of that - these pictures of being among them.

    I used to hide out in the organ rooms down in the depth of the Fine Arts tunnel, where someone had left a Bach organ concerto on the rack. And I'd try to play some of it, amazed at the stentorian sound I was making = so badly. If you were sight-reading with pedals, I don't think you can actually say, "But that was the extent of my skills," as though you were lucky to be able to read the top line of the treble staff - like I felt lucky to do.

  2. What an absolutely unforgettable experience! I'm green with envy. How fun that Abey got to go too--and thanks for taking us with you through your photos too!!


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top