The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Richard Elliott to Perform for Organists Convention on June 21, 2016!

On June 21, 2016, Richard Elliott, principal organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, will be one of the featured solo performers at the 2016 American Guild of Organists National Convention in Houston, Texas. The American Guild of Organists was founded in 1896 to “advance the cause of organ and choral music” and “to promote their understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment” through education and service.  Tickets for performances at the convention are available online.

Dr. Elliott will be performing at Houston’s historic First Presbyterian Church, with two back-to-back performances of the same 45-minute program  at 8:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. His program will include a new composition commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for the 2016 convention, “Rhapsody for Brass Quintet and Organ,” by Eric Ewazen, a distinguished composer and faculty member of The Julliard School. For the Ewazen piece, Elliott will be joined by a brass quintet from the Houston Symphony. 

The organ at Houston’s First Presbyterian Church is a sister instrument to the one that Dr. Elliott plays nearly every day at the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  Both organs were built by the Æolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, and the same crew that installed the Tabernacle organ in the late 1940s traveled directly to Houston upon the completion of the Tabernacle organ to take up work on First Presbyterian’s instrument.  Coincidentally, the company that renovated the Tabernacle organ in the late 1980s—Schoenstein & Co. of San Francisco, California—also performed the renovation of the Houston instrument shortly thereafter.

As a Tabernacle organist, Elliott participates in the daily recital series on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and accompanies the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in many of their broadcasts  and concerts. He is featured as an organist on many of the Choir’s recordings and is also featured as a soloist on recordings issued under the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Bonneville Classic, Klavier, and Pro Organo labels. He has performed extensively as a soloist in the United States and has also played recitals in Europe and Israel.

In addition to his classical organ solos, Richard Elliott is known for his flair for performance. His original solo arrangement of “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” has nearly 1 million YouTube views. In the 2014 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert “Keep Christmas With You,” his arrangement and performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with Sesame Street’s Count von Count gave everyone who watched, both young and old, a new appreciation and love for the organand for Richard Elliott.

Mack Wilberg, Mormon Tabernacle Choir music director says, “Rick’s genius is unquestioned. He plays so masterfully that the organ seems only to be an extension of his person. I think he was made to play that instrument.” 

Dr. Elliott became a Tabernacle organist in 1991, and in 2007 became the principal organist. Prior to his appointment, he was an assistant professor of organ at Brigham Young University. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Elliott received his early training at the Peabody Conservatory and the Catholic University of America. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, and his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music.