Laura Ellis was recently elected to her second term as President of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA), an organization of professional musicians dedicated to promoting the carillon art. She may often be found at the top of Century Tower performing on UF's 61-bell carillon.
Her well-known recording of the works of Jeanne Demessieux is now available on multiple digital platforms worldwide. Legacy: Laura Ellis Plays the Works of Jeanne Demessieux was produced by ProOrgano and recorded on the "Great Hosanna" organ on the campus of the University of the Ozarks, Clarksville, Arkansas. The album is available on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and the Naxos Music Library.
Ellis recently featured the Andrew Anderson Memorial Organ on the UF campus in a recording produced by the Raven label: "Music for the Testaments Old and New". This 2-CD set offers contemporary interpretations of scripture written by composers active in the United States from the mid-twentieth century to the current day. Tracks from this CD have been featured on "Pipedreams", a nationally broadcast public radio program (her recording of "A Prophecy" by Daniel Pinkham was broadcast on the Sept 27, 2018 program and "Incarnation Suite" of Joel Martinson was aired on December 23, 2019.
Dr. Ellis has been on the faculty in the School of Music since 2003 and serves as Associate Director. She teaches undergraduate and graduate organ, harpsichord, and carillon. In addition to applied lessons, Ellis teaches courses in the Sacred Music area. Ellis is a graduate of Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) and holds a Master of Music degree in church music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance from the University of Kansas. Her major organ teachers have been James Higdon and William Kuhlman. While in residence at the University of Kansas, she studied carillon with Albert Gerken.
Prior to her Florida appointment, Ellis served as professor of music at McMurry University and held the position of parish organist at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, TX. Ellis began her teaching career at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.
Ellis was invited to discuss the music of her carillon mentor at the 2012 Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. The presentation entitled "Bert Gerken: His Arrangements and Original Compositions for Carillon." In June 2010 Ellis performed a solo carillon recital for the 2010 Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. During this same congress, Ellis passed her advancement examination recital on The Millennium Carillon in Naperville, Illinois, and is now a carillonneur member of the GCNA.
Recital engagements as organist have included appearances with the Jacksonville (FL) Symphony, Piccolo Spoleto (Charleston, SC), Westminster Abbey, and various locations throughout Florida, Texas, and the South. In addition to her performances on the carillon in Century Tower on the University of Florida campus, Ellis has performed solo carillon recitals throughout the United States and Canada. Recent appearances include recitals at International Carillon Festival in Springfield, Illinois; Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; the University of Rochester (NY); Alfred University (NY); and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Spokane, Washington.
In October 2007 Ellis traveled to Australia for a series of five recitals, including a solo organ recital on the Great Hall Organ at the University of Sydney. She also performed solo carillon recitals at the University of Sydney and at the National Carillon in the capital city of Canberra. Ellis presented a solo organ recital at the Region IV Mid-winter conference of the American Guild of Organists in January 2010. In this recital she premiered, "Praise," a composition by University of Florida composition faculty member Paul Richards based on Psalm 150:3-5.
Ellis is active in the American Guild of Organists (AGO) where she was elected to three terms as Regional Councillor for the Southeast. She is currently Director of the National Nominating Committee and Dean of the Gainesville Chapter of the organization. Ellis also serves as director of the Music Publications committee of the GCNA.