The organ staff and guest organists perform 30-minute recitals in the Tabernacle from 12:00 noon to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday recitals are performed from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle. The impressive pipe organ is a symbol of the importance Latter-day Saints place on worshipping God through music.
The Tabernacle organ has an interesting history. President Brigham Young asked Joseph Harris Ridges, who was born and raised near an organ factory in England, to build the first Tabernacle organ. Suitable timber was located and brought by volunteers from the Parowan and Pine Valley mountains, 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. In the beginning, the organ was powered by hand-pumped bellows, later by water power, and today by electricity. With improved techniques in organ construction, the instrument has been renovated and enlarged several times. Now comprising 11,623 pipes, the organ has 206 sets of pipes (ranks) of voices, and the console has 5 manuals, or keyboards. The Tabernacle organ is considered to be one of the finest organs in the world.
The organ in the Conference Center was built in 2000-2003 by Schoenstein & Co. of San Francisco. This organ of the American Romantic style employs a symphonic tonal approach with the richness and warmth characteristic of English instruments. Although designed primarily to provide colorful and varied accompaniment, the organ also renders the solo repertoire beautifully. A five-manual console controls the 7,708 pipes of its 130 ranks, which are spread across seven divisions.
In addition to their daily recitals, the five members of the organ staff accompany the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in all of their concerts, rehearsals, tours, and broadcasts. They are also featured organ soloists in the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast, which originates from the Tabernacle on Temple Square or the Conference Center, depending on the time of year.
Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, received his early musical training at Peabody Conservatory and the Catholic University of America. He received his bachelor of music degree from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and his master's and doctorate degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. While a student in Philadelphia, he served as assistant organist for the famed Wanamaker organ.
Tabernacle organist Clay Christiansen was organist and choirmaster of Salt Lake City's St. Mark Cathedral for 10 years and organist of Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City's Jewish synagogue, for five years before he was appointed as a Tabernacle organist in 1982. He received his bachelor's degree from BYU and a master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Utah. Solo performances have taken him throughout the United States, Canada, and England.
Tabernacle organist Andrew Unsworth was raised in Potsdam, New York, in a family of musicians. He received a bachelor of music degree from Brigham Young University and was awarded M.A. and PhD degrees by Duke University. Before his appointment on Temple Square, Unsworth worked as assistant director of music and as organist at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City and most recently as assistant professor of music history and organ at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Bonnie Lauper Goodliffe
Temple Square organist Bonnie Lauper Goodliffe received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Brigham Young University. She participated in a BYU Study Abroad program in Salzburg, Austria, where she was an organ student of Oskar Peter at the Mozarteum Conservatory. She has been a Temple Square organist since 1984; her duties also include working with the Temple Square Chorale and its affiliated training school.
Linda Swenson Margetts
Temple Square organist Linda Swenson Margetts received bachelor's and master's degrees in organ performance from Brigham Young University and a PhD from the University of Utah, where she also serves as an associate instructor. She has been a Temple Square organist since 1984; her duties also include working with the Temple Square Chorale and its affiliated training school.
Tickets are not required for these recitals. Entrance to the Tabernacle is at door 11.
- Wheelchair seating is available.
- We respectfully request that no photographic or recording equipment be used during the recitals. Visitors are free to take pictures before and after the recitals.
- Visitors who desire to leave early may do so after the first selection. Thereafter the doors will remain closed until the recital concludes.