Craig Morris has been composing music since the age of 11. He studied composition with Shirley Bloom, Kevin Scott, and Joelle Wallach and also studied violin, piano, and voice. He played violin with the Bronx Symphony Orchestra for many years and presently plays with the Ridgewood Symphony. He has sung professionally as a cantor for over 40 years. His music has been performed by the Ridgewood Symphony, the Bronx Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic, the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fifth International Music Festival of Buenos Aires, and the Chamber Music Society of Formosa. His compositions include piano sonatas, orchestral suites, violin, cello and clarinet concerti, a concert duet for soprano and tenor, choral compositions, and a sacred service for the Sabbath. Arise My Love and The Rubaiyat were chosen as finalists in the 2010 Meistersingers Choral Competition.
Morris’s album DREAMS, consisting of chamber music for piano, violin, and cello, was released by Ravello Records in 2011 to critical acclaim. His music has been hailed as “extremely intelligent, complex and powerful” by Daniel Shaw, artistic director of the Composer’s Choir, and “beautiful, lively and moving” by Jennifer Whiting, conductor of the DeKalb Festival Chorus. Gapplegate Classical Reviews commented “There are times when music may not be ultra-advanced categorically yet be so captivating that one doesn’t care. The composer Craig Madden Morris and his chamber music on the album DREAMS gives us such a time. There is lyricism, formal heft, beautifully played parts and an idiomatic craftsmanship/inspiration that makes it all a joy to hear.”
His orchestral overture Lullaby was selected as a winner in the international Ablaze Records Orchestral Masters Competition and was released in 2013. One critic described it as “fetchingly beautiful, redolent of Bernstein and Copland, and driven with a sure melodic and harmonic hand, this deeply American score paints a lovely and melodic world that is very effectively orchestrated and effectively captivating despite its brevity.” His Benjamin Overture was recorded by the West Point Band, and premiered by the SUNY Orange Symphonic Band in 2013. His Violin Concerto was premiered by the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra in 2014, with Francisc Restesan, soloist. It was released by Navona Records, and Audiophile Audition described it as “a lovely work that has a decidedly ‘Americana’ feel to it and each movement echoes some aspect of folk material or countryside living. I was especially taken with the Barber-esque second movement, Breezes.” The Kathodik Review stated “the very beautiful Concerto for Violin is dominated by a lyrical vein almost uncontainable. It excels in sustaining lyrical lines which seem never to end, crossing passages which are sometimes meditative, and other times exhilarating and exhibitionistic.” His string and percussion suite A Child’s Day was reviewed by Gapplegate: “evoking in three movements vivid tapestries that show a child’s tender ability to experience all as if anew every day. This is charming music, immediately communicative, but not in any simplistic manner.” His Songs of the Seasons was reviewed by Gramophone Magazine as “an engaging suite.”
Morris was commissioned by the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra to compose a companion piece to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, The Enigma Fantasy, which premiered in 2017. His most recent CD, CHAMBER MUSIC FOR OUR TIMES, was released in 2020 and was reviewed by the American Record Guide: “His Romance for Violin and Piano is tinted with sensitive, fragile seconds in the piano and soaring, truly romantic lines in the violin that never go quite where one expects. Piano Quartet 1 was inspired by Brahms and Dvorak. Yet these immensely lush harmonies, rich and abundant, feel somehow at liberty in a way that similar creations by Brahms and Dvorak can’t. It’s an original take on tradition and is aural beauty at 100 proof.” Take Effect Reviews stated “Colors follows with gorgeous string manipulation that unfolds over four movements where a pair of violins, a cello and viola blur together with sublime beauty.”
Morris is a child psychiatrist and a former assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A native New Yorker, he lives in New City NY with his wife, Nancy. Their children and grandchildren live in Massachusetts.