Conni Ellisor

“…absolute proof that new music can be accessible, exciting and inspiring to musicians and audiences alike!”
~Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director, Nashville Symphony

It is exactly this quality of being “accessible, exciting, and inspiring to musicians and audiences alike” that is the hallmark of Conni Ellisor’s work.  Her critically-acclaimed compositions are the beneficiaries of a brilliantly varied career.  She has used her journey – formal training at Juilliard, early success in the classical world as a member of the Denver Symphony, concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic, first violin in the Athena Quartet (now the Colorado Quartet), and eventually as assistant concertmaster and soloist with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, along with extensive work in the commercial world as a top-call session violinist and arranger – to inform her current musical statements.

Conni Ellisor’s contributions to the orchestral repertoire include such uniquely American works as Blackberry Winter for mountain dulcimer and strings and Whiskey Before Breakfast – Partita for Bluegrass Band and StringsBlackberry Winter has generated widespread NPR airplay and was featured on All Things Considered.  Her long and productive association with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra resulted in the premieres of 11 of her works.  Three were recorded for broadcast by NPR’s Performance Today, and her “Conversations In Silence” became the title track on the orchestra’s 1997 debut album on Warner Bros.  NPR Senior Producer Benjamin Roe’s comment that “the NCO truly is what’s new in classical music” is a testament to Ellisor’s groundbreaking contributions to the group’s repertoire.  Among the pieces commissioned by the NCO was Sea Without A Shore, written for orchestra, marimba and percussion and premiered by the NCO, Christopher Norton and world-renowned percussion ensemble NEXUS. Other of her works have been premiered and recorded by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony, Nexus Chamber Orchestra, Denver Brass, Camelli Quartet, New York Treble Singers, Hamburg Radio Orchestra and the London Philharmonic.

A passionate and engaging educator as well, Ellisor has written multiple works for the Arlington (NY) High School Philharmonia Orchestra and recently completed a three-year residency with Stringendo, a nonprofit community strings program in upstate New York.  The partnership has resulted in seven new works for varying levels of string orchestra.  Belmont University recently led a consortium of more than 20 College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) member colleges to commission Ellisor’s first piece for wind ensemble, “Keepers Of The House”.  Premieres will extend through the 2022-23 season, including a performance by Vanderbilt University’s wind ensemble at the 2023 CBDNA National Conference.  Additionally, Vanderbilt University recently premiered a wind ensemble arrangement of Ellisor’s “Concerto for Marimba and Percussion” and recorded the work for release on Klavier Records.

Commission and premiere highlights include “Diaspora” by the Nashville Symphony (2011), her second concerto for mountain dulcimer and orchestra, “Broad Band of Light”, by the Tucson Symphony (2012), “Tres Danzas De Vida” by the Arlington (NY) High School Philharmonia Orchestra (2013), “Fort of Shadows” by the Arlington High School Sinfonia Orchestra (2014), and “The Bass Whisperer”, a concerto for electric bass written with and for 5x Grammy-winning bassist Victor L. Wooten and commissioned by the Nashville Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, and the Chicago Sinfonietta (2015/2016).  She has also written and recorded the score for the SONY/Affirm film All Saints (2017) with composer/multi-instrumentalist (and husband) John Mock, through their production company, Drowsy Maggie Productions.  River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra have commissioned and will premiere her latest work, “A Woman Without Apology”, in 2024 and 2025.

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