They know organ 'inside and out'

Robert Poll and Lamont Anderson know the Tabernacle organ inside and out.

They are the technicians who keep the organ in good working order for its heavy use for Tabernacle Choir broadcasts, general conferences, recitals, firesides and other special events.With expert knowledge and skill, they spend most of their working hours in maintaining and tuning the organ. "Organs are characteristically unstable," said Brother Poll, who has been a Tabernacle organ technician 12 years. "There are mechanical parts that might need repairing or a wire that is sprung. An organ has many moving parts, and anything that moves is subject to wear and tear."

The most crucial time for the technicians' expertise is Sunday mornings for the weekly "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcasts. They arrive about 5:30 a.m. to get the organ ready. "When you have an organ with hundreds of reeds, you can't possibly keep them all in top working condition all the time," Brother Poll said. "The organists tell us which reeds they will be using for the broadcast; we generally spend our time tuning those reeds."

The technicians work throughout the week to maintain the organ, and are on stand-by duty during events whenever the Tabernacle organ is to be played.

Although there are hundreds of things that could go wrong, Brother Poll said he could name only four or five times during the 12 years he has been a technician when there has been something he needed to give attention to during a broadcast or other performance.

"One of the most serious problems at performance time happened when Greg Mortimer was working with me," Brother Poll said. "He was on duty one Sunday morning when the canvas sleeve that attaches the big wind duct to the blower that feeds into the organ tore open. I never thought there would be a problem with that, so I didn't have a spare.

"Greg was quick on his feet. He got a piece of rubberized canvas cloth, and took it to the women's dressing room, where there are sewing machines. He had one of the sisters in the choir sew up a piece with the rubberized canvas cloth, about the same size as the one that was torn. He attached it to the duct, but it was a little too big. He was afraid the thread wasn't strong enough to keep the sleeve from splitting out when air pressure filled it, so he took some nylon packaging tape and wrapped it round and round the sleeve to reinforce it. He got the organ up and playing about 10 minutes before the choir went on the air for its broadcast."

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