Arranger, composer, and violinist, sometimes credited by her married name as Conni McCollister, who co-founded the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and has been working virtually non-stop since matriculating the Julliard School of Music in 1980. She also has a Masters degree in Chamber Music which was conferred on her by the University of Colorado.
In the span of about twenty-five years, she has carved a unique niche in the music business, performing as a session musician with the likes of The Nashville String Machine and The Sheldon Kurland Strings . She has appeared as a violinist on a slue of country albums by acts such as Alabama, Chet Atkins , Jimmy Buffett , Glen Campbell , Waylon Jennings, Barbara Mandrell, Willie Nelson, and Mel Tillis.
Her extensive recording career opened up new avenues of opportunity for her, as an arranger on albums by Amy Grant, Emmylou Harris, and Michael W. Smith. She also orchestrated one of Trisha Yearwood’s albums.
Her workaholic mentality has not prevented her from exercising the creative side of her personality as a composer. In 1994, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra commissioned her to write the title track for their debut album, Conversations in Silence, which also included “Blackberry Winter”. Two years later, she released a jazz-fusion album titled Night at the Museum, which reached the top twenty on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart.
Ellisor was made Composer-in-Residence for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra in 1998, a post she would fill for four years. It was a time of prolific creative output, including her Concerto for Marimba, Strings and Percussion, Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, Sea Without a Shore, and Whiskey Before Breakfast – Partita for Bluegrass Band and String Orchestra. She has also been commissioned to write dance and ballet music. October 2003 saw the debut of her ballet The Bell Witch, performed by the Nashville Ballet. Martine Van Hammel performed The Empty Cup at the Kaatsbaan International Dance. Other Voices, Other Rooms was written for the Tennessee Dance Theatre.
Conni Ellisor is a versatile performer and composer who has successfully fused seemingly disparate musical genres, and has become one of the most important voices in modern classical music. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s to date she has written many commissioned works.
Here she is performing “The Best of Goodbyes” with the Conni Ellisor String Quartet…