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LDS Tabernacle organist accompanies cathedral wedding for a friend, successor

SALT LAKE CITY — Gabriele Terrone knew he would get married someday, but he never thought it would be in Utah.

The Italian-born organist and assistant director of music at the Cathedral of the Madeleine arrived in the Beehive State in 2014, after besting other finalists for a seat at one of the most ornate organs in town.

"I was very happy for the possibility of being a church musician for my full-time job," said Terrone, a former organist at Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four major churches in Rome. "It was my dream."

The 36-year-old professional musician later met his wife, Noemí Pulido, online, and, knowing they shared a similar and strong belief in the Catholic Church, they agreed to meet.

And the rest is history.

The two were married Saturday during a ceremonious Catholic wedding conducted in both Italian and Spanish languages at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

But Terrone obviously wasn't in his usual seat at the gallery organ.

Being one of the main characters in his wedding, he asked one of his friends and organist predecessor, Andrew Unsworth, a Salt Lake Tabernacle organist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to play instead.

"It's been 10 years since I played my last mass," Unsworth said, adding that he was happy to have been invited back to the cathedral.

"It is a special place and it holds a special place in my heart," he said. "It is a privilege to come back."

Unsworth served as an organ scholar at the Cathedral of the Madeleine when he studied music at BYU. He was taught the ways of Catholic mass throughout his studies and was later offered the job of main organist there and played full-time for about five years.

He was also part of the local committee that selected Terrone following an international search for the position in 2014 and said the young Italian "was head and shoulders above the rest."

"He is a gifted organist and improviser," Unsworth said of Terrone. "He is a jewel of our community."

If he was at all intimidated to accompany the various traditional chants and hymns throughout the two-hour ceremony in which the church's organist was the groom, Unsworth didn't show it.

But he did show up a little early to practice.

"It's quite a lot of music, as music is an integral part of the service," Unsworth said. The pipes of the 1992 English-style mechanical action organ responded emphatically to his deliberation throughout the ceremony, resonating across the arched ceiling and between the columns of the massive hall.

The music, sometimes joined with about 20 voices in the choir, swelled to fill every inch of the spacious and colorful Gothic-inspired cathedral at times, drowning out all other sound.

"Music is not just an ornament here. It's integral," Unsworth said. "You can't have the service without it."

Terrone and Pulido were front and center during the mass and participated in a very symbolic communion. Prayers and admonitions to the new couple were scattered throughout the liturgy. The two walked out of the cathedral together with looks of joy on their faces — Terrone a little teary-eyed, too.

"It is a great day," he said.

Terrone will continue his service at the organ and with the choir following a short break. And Unsworth will be right back at the LDS Tabernacle, where the organ is three times larger than the one at the cathedral and has electronic key action opening the pipes.

He mostly prefers the mechanical version, as each produces a different sound.

"This is a substantial instrument here," Unsworth said. "I really like the Cathedral organ. It creates lots of body and resonating basses. And the acoustics are amazing."

Though the two began in very different countries, both organists first played the piano in their youth, and then moved to the organ at 14. Unsworth said Terrone is the better organist, but both men are accomplished musicians and are undoubtedly close acquaintances in the profession.