When a freak accident moving a table injured Mormon Tabernacle Choir organist Richard Elliott’s left arm in August 2008, he wondered if he would be able to perform for the Choir’s annual Christmas concert scheduled just a few months later—or even return to his accomplished organ career. Fortunately, surgery to repair his arm was successful, but Elliott was still faced with many weeks without the use of his arm. He decided his recovery period provided a unique opportunity to focus on his organ pedaling footwork. The product of Elliott’s efforts during this challenging time was a Christmas concert performance of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” that astonished everyone. Published on YouTube the following year, it has continued to catch the attention and applause of viewers everywhere. Today the video has garnered over 1.5 million views—one of only a small percentage of YouTube videos to accomplish that feat.
Here’s how Elliott made “lemonade out of lemons”: He wrote an arrangement of the African-American Christmas carol “Go Tell It on the Mountain” where he used his left foot for the bass notes and his right foot for the melody while snapping his fingers. He gradually included notes played on the keyboard, but put the most challenging parts in the right hand. The resulting performance—fast-paced and engaging—had everyone in the Conference Center on their feet to applaud this astonishing, coordinated effort of hand and foot movements.
Richard Elliott’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain” video was first uploaded on the Deseret Book YouTube channel in October 2009 to promote the Choir’s Christmas concert CD and DVD release of Ring Christmas Bells. When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir launched its own YouTube channel, the Elliott organ video was also posted there. Together the two posts account for nearly 1.56 million views.
The Choir’s YouTube channel also offers an organ solo playlist with additional organ videos performed by the gifted organists on Temple Square: Richard Elliott, Clay Christiansen, Andrew Unsworth, Bonnie Goodliffe, and Linda Margetts. If you haven’t subscribed to the Choir’s YouTube channel, here is a quick tutorial.
Check out the section on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s website called Organs and Organists on Temple Square where you can learn more about the five talented organists, details about the organs on Temple Square, the daily public organ recitals, and even link to additional organ videos and articles.
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