"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Richard Elliott Performs Three Concerts in Germany

Richard Elliott, principal Tabernacle organist, has a following, and rightly so. His organ solos are the stuff of legend, whether it's a frontier-flavored fantasia of "Deck the Halls," an ingenious "Good King Wenceslas" and "Nutcracker Suite,” or a jaw-dropping display of pedal dexterity on "Go Tell It on the Mountain," Elliott's organ solos earn thunderous applause.

Michael Barone, host of public radio's Pipedreams organ program, professed "nothing but admiration for the guy. I wish every organ community had someone of his ability, artistry, and what seems to be unflagging energy."

Now, Elliott is expanding his community to Europe where he has toured with the Choir but never performed on his own as the featured artist.  He will perform three concerts in Germany next week: one at the Frauenkirche in Dresden, one at the St. Annenkirche in Annaberg, and one final concert at the St. Bonifatiuskirche in Wiesbaden.

Elliott began piano lessons at age 6 and took to the organ as a teenager at the request of the pastor of the Lutheran church his family attended in Baltimore. "It was a better job than fast food," Elliott contends. He began organ studies at the Peabody Conservatory and Catholic University of America and as he shifted to organ performance as a career, he switched to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He was an assistant organist for Philadelphia's world-famous Wanamaker Department Store organ for three years while in school.  He also played keyboards in a local rock band, but by his third year of college, he had decided that life style was not for him. "That kind of music helped people forget, but not solve, their problems,” he has said. “I wanted to help people deal with their problems. I feel that classical and sacred music have a way of inspiring and lifting us up."

Elliott, who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while at Curtis Institute, has been performing in concerts, broadcasts, and on tour with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir since being named a Tabernacle organist in 1991. “Every time I get out there in front of the Choir and hear those voices, it’s hair-raising,” he said. “There are times still when I’m overcome by emotion—not just by the size of the sound or just how good they are, but by the spirit that they bring and the music that they sing, which really has the potential to change lives.”

Watch Elliott's "Give My Regards to Broadway" solo from the 2015 Pioneer Day concert.