One of Canada's most respected guitarists, Roddy is equally at home with contemporary new music, jazz, or classical repertoire. His dynamism as an artist and his consistent pursuit of harmonic and melodic adventure have made him a consummate musician. Known for his energetic performances and his thoughtful renditions of both new and existing works, he continues to surprise and delight his audiences. Last year he set the stage on fire in a series of duets with other guitarists, including Vic Juris, Gene Bertoncini, Lorne Lofsky, and David Occhipinti, showcasing his versatility and his generosity as a performer.
Roddy's eclectic tastes in music and his wildly varied musical influences are reflected in the scope of his compositions. Roddy has written some of the most complex work ever created for guitar: his sonata Emptying remains one of the most beautiful and technically taxing pieces to enter the solo guitar repertoire. But he has also written for voice, marimba, clarinet, flute, harp, string quartet, kanun, oud, and the French horn. Whale Spirit Rising for string orchestra and baritone saxophone, recorded by I Musici and David Mott on the Chandos label, is a mystical and stirring rendition of whale song, featuring both notated score and space for improvisation. When the American virtuoso violinist Anne Akiko Meyers heard one of his pieces she was so moved she commissioned him to write Acts of Light for violin and piano, which she performed at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. Both his jazz and new music compositions are heard on radio around the world. Current projects include the recording of a new song cycle with soprano Donna Brown, a CD of original compositions with flautist Guy Pelletier for the True North record label, and a new solo guitar album in the works.
Guitarist, composer, performer, improviser — Roddy Ellias draws from so many musical influences his work defies labels. As each piece unfolds it tells its own unique story — eclectic, intense, rhythmic, powerful, and ultimately human.