Caring For the 8 Pipe Organs, 2 Harpsichords, 4 Electronic Organs, and 70 Pianos On and Around Temple Square
In 2011, an article from the Ensign magazine profiled Robert Poll and Lamont Anderson, two men responsible for the care and maintenance of many instruments on Temple Square. An excerpt is below:
Robert Poll and Lamont Anderson have been working with the Tabernacle organ for more than 25 years. Their job responsibilities cover many other instruments on and around Temple Square, including 8 pipe organs, 2 harpsichords, 4 electronic organs, and more than 70 pianos. They listen constantly to the instruments, says Brother Poll, especially before events.
Brother Poll divides the work he and Brother Anderson share into three categories: tuning, mechanical maintenance, and renovation. The tuning usually involves individual pipes rather than the organ as a whole; tuning the entire Tabernacle organ takes roughly a month to complete.Mechanical maintenance primarily entails the refurbishment of malfunctioning pieces. Renovation is also focused mainly on smaller projects, including replacing the felts on pipe shutters so that the shutters seal better and create a greater contrast in volume.
The technicians’ methods of caring for the instruments are constantly evolving. This applies most to care involving the large organs. Organs of the size and caliber of the Tabernacle organ are, in some ways, “too customized for standard fixes,” says Brother Poll, and require a detailed knowledge of many areas as well as the ability to innovate.
In one case, a high-pressure air regulator in the Conference Center organ kept going into oscillation—setting up resonant frequencies that sounded like the playing of one of the low pipes. Brother Poll used a piece of wire tied between two points to apply sideways pressure on the valve. The makeshift solution continues to prevent the problem.
Watch the video below for a glance behind the scenes of the Tabernacle organ.