Temple Square organist celebrates 40-year career

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – An organ performance inside the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Monday was 40 years in the making.

Bonnie Goodliffe didn’t set out for a career playing the organ, it just happened.

Goodliffe explained, “I just happened to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right training.”

In 1979 Goodliffe had 6 children and was invited to audition for a six month assignment to play organ concerts on Temple Square.

She was chosen to alternate Sundays for the next six months.  
The original assignment  never ended.  The six months turned into a 40 year career as a Temple Square Organist.

ABC4 met with Bonnie inside her Salt Lake City home as she prepared for her retirement performance.  She sat at the organ where she has practiced all of these years.

She explained, “I never set out to do any of these things, I feel like windows and doors opened for me and things just fell into my lap.”

Goodliffe has played for General Conference for 27 years, played with huge choirs and countless performances on Temple Square.

But her most memorable moment was a rehearsal.  It was the first practice for her first time playing for the Tabernacle on Temple Square’s live Sunday Broadcast.

Jerold Ottley was the director at the time and he introduced Bonnie Goodliffe to the Choir.

Goodliffe recalled, “he said, ‘As far as we know, this is the first time a woman will have played for the broadcast.’ Then the women of the choir stood and applauded.  The women in the audience stood and applauded and other people stood up.”

Bonnie Goodliffe is a trailblazer.  That day she did something no woman had ever done before.

But she knew that moment was bigger than herself, “I knew, more than anybody else there, that they weren’t applauding for me.  It wasn’t me personally. They were applauding that this was happening.”

There was a standing ovation again on Monday.  But this time, it definitely was for Bonnie Goodliffe.  She took a final bow celebrating 40 years of beautiful music from the Organ.

Goodliffe will become an Emeritus Organist.  She will still play from time to time, but it will be on special occasions when she wants.

As far as retirement, Bonnie said she plans to clean her house and spend time with her 20 grandchildren.

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