Utah governor honors Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott with artist award

Tabernacle Choir organist Richard Elliott was one of several artists honored with awards by the governor of Utah this week. Credit: Kelly Foss
Organist Richard Turley plays as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square rehearses their first Sunday morning music since the pandemic started at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Credit: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News
Richard Elliott, a Salt Lake Tabernacle organist Credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News

Richard Elliott, principal organist with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, was among several artists honored with the 2022 Governor’s Mansion Artist Awards by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox on Wednesday, June 15.

“I’m really deeply honored,” Elliott told the Deseret News. “We feel here that we stand on the shoulders of many people who came before us, specifically in the choir organization, and we are fortunate to have the blessing of being able to use our musical gifts to bless the lives of others.”

Elliott is the latest musician affiliated with the Tabernacle Choir to receive the award. Previous Tabernacle Choir recipients of the Utah Governor’s Mansion Artist Award include the choir itself (2002), longtime choir director Jerold and JoAnn Ottley (2003), current choir director Mack Wilberg (2009), former director Craig Jessop (2014), and Alex Boyé and Sue Allred (2015).

Elliott is one of five Tabernacle Choir organists who regularly perform on “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcasts, at Latter-day Saint general conferences and for daily 30-minute organ recitals in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Elliott, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, has played the organ for the Tabernacle Choir for more than 31 years, performing in many of the world’s great halls and appearing on numerous television and radio programs and recordings. He studied at the Peabody Institute and the Catholic University of America, received a bachelor’s degree in music from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, a master’s in music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Prior to his appointment as Tabernacle organist in 1991, Elliott was an assistant professor of organ at BYU. He and his wife, pianist Elizabeth Cox Ballantyne, are the parents of two sons.

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