Christian Elliott is one of today’s prominent concert organists. At home performing literature of the church or theatre, he is very much in demand as a scorer of silent films. He has done extensive silent film accompaniment, including at the Packard Foundation's Stanford Theatre (Palo Alto, California), UCLA, the Cinequest and San Francisco Silent Film Festivals, as well as for the Los Angeles Conservancy, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has made appearances at the American Theatre Organ Society and the American Institute of Organ Builders conventions, programs on BBC Radio, and at the famed Hollywood Bowl.
A Southern California native, Christian graduated with honors from Vanguard University of Southern California (formerly Southern California College), Costa Mesa. While still a student, he held church organ positions in several prominent southern California churches. For nine years he was a guest artist for the summer noon organ recitals at the Crystal Cathedral where he also played weddings and coached with Frederick Swann. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988, he studied with celebrated organist and composer Richard Purvis.
In addition to classical and church organ training, he was privileged to be mentored by several world-renowned theatre organists, being particularly identified for his association with legendary organist Gaylord Carter, the ‘dean’ of silent film accompaniment. Chris worked extensively with Mr. Carter, who proudly claimed Chris as his protégé. In 1995 at Carter’s gala 90th birthday celebration and farewell performance at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, Christian and Gaylord shared the stage in a moving performance that garnered several standing ovations. Excerpts from this event were featured in the documentary “Pulling Out All the Stops: The Pipe Organ in America” seen on PBS television stations.
Building on the foundational training from Carter, Chris developed his own style and is recognized in his own right for providing authentic film accompaniments which incorporate performance practices and appropriate musical source materials from the silent film era.
Christian has six solo recordings to his credit. Theatre Organ Journal’s Bob Shafter said in reviewing "Shuffle Off to Buffalo": “...the best of the best...this recording (will be) one of the few ‘classics’ in the theatre organ world. It gets the highest possible recommendation.”
After a distinguished tenure of eleven years as Senior Organist and Associate Minister of Worship at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Christian transitioned to a corporate career in 1999. He continues as the Principal Guest Organist at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, where he performs monthly, and continues to perform silent film presentations and solo organ engagements and all across the United States.
ATOS Artists' pages are provided as a courtesy to the artist and do not imply an endorsement by the American Theatre Organ Society