General Conference and Music

Having just experienced Conference weekend, I figured I’d do a little research about the music involved with the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. As a bit of background information, it is huge—the largest building of its kind in the world. A 747 jet could easily fit inside it. Inside the

conference 8.5 million cubic feet there are enough seats to fit about 21,333 people.

Because of its size there are many challenges that had to be overcome that I wouldn’t normally think about. The first challenge is the volume of air. How do you produce enough sound to vibrate that much air? Craig Jessop, a previous music director, said that performing in the Conference Center is like “singing outside.” Another challenge is that, also because of the size, how do you work with the lag produced by the slow speed of sound? Yet another challenge is that the organ has to produce enough sound to fill the Conference Center but not so much that it will overpower the choir. conference 2
It took the best sound engineers available, and no doubt the Spirit, to overcome these challenges. When testing the acoustics, Byron Bishop wore a pedometer and found he walked 76 miles from seat to seat throughout the whole process.
The organ, certainly not the biggest but still ginormous, holds 7667 pipes and requires about 38 horsepower to power it. It took seven years to build (3 years just to install all the pipes). The lowest note reaches an octave below a grand piano. There are five keyboards, or manuals, to play on and it’s not uncommon to have two people playing.
If any more information is wanted here’s a couple of articles to look at from
1) Mormon Tabernacle Choir Getting Acquainted with Conference Center by Adam C. Olson
2) The Conference Center by Don L. Searle
By Colin Rubow