Making of the Conference Center Organ
John Longhurst spent 30 years as a Tabernacle Organist. In addition to performing on Temple Square and on tour with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Longhurst was part of the group that decided what type of organ would be built in the Conference Center. He discussed the details in a Deseret News article. An excerpt is below:
"It began with a very exhaustive research on what we felt the best solution for an organ for the Conference Center might be."
"We looked at electronic organs. We looked at combination pipe/electronic organs. We looked at pipe organs. We looked at new organs. We looked at old organs that were becoming available because the auditoriums in which they were housed were being demolished. It took us really from coast to coast."
"In fact, I even spent some time in England talking to some of the premier organ builders there, so we really tried to do our homework on this project."
"The first hurdle was to determine whether the instrument should be pipe or electronic. There were some who felt that because the room was so large that everything that happened there had to be reinforced; and you might as well have an electronic organ if you're going to have to reinforce it anyway."
He said further investigation indicated that an electronic organ was not the way to go.
"We felt very strongly as a musical staff that with the choir having had access to this instrument (the Tabernacle organ), which is world-class, to all of a sudden have their face to the world and the church be with an electronic organ was probably not the best. And having come to the conclusion that a pipe organ could be successful there, we were able to gain the support of the First Presidency in that recommendation."
The organ in the Conference Center has 130 ranks compared to 206 ranks in the Tabernacle. Additionally, the Conference Center organ has 7,708 total pipes versus the 11,623 pipes in the Tabernacle.