Craig Madden Morris - composer

Life can sometimes seem like an infinity mirror of colors reflecting off of themselves, each tint deeply distinct in its own right, yet profoundly beautiful when viewed as a whole. This sentiment is thoughtfully expressed in KALEIDOSCOPE from composer Craig Morris and Navona Records. Morris’s compositional strengths are far-reaching and dynamic, and aptly showcased here with orchestral and chamber works written in a variety of orchestrations. Sentiments of gentle reflections, care and acceptance, and love are echoed throughout this release, a cohesive collection of works written from powerful emotions that tie into the kaleidoscope that is the human experience.

Today, Craig is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about his passion for helping families as a child psychiatrist, and how he balances that passion with his love for music…

What inspires you to write and/or perform?

That varies greatly for me. At times, I write to express feelings that are close to me and need to be heard through music, sometimes with words but often without words at all; just with the melodies, harmonies, and flow that music touches in all of us in our lives. At times, melodies come to me that I need to write down and refine and develop into music for various groups of instruments. As for performances, they are a way of making music come alive in a deeply personal way for myself, and hopefully for those who hear my music as well as the wonderful music of others.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

In addition to being a musician, I am a board-certified child psychiatrist and have been in practice full-time throughout my life. It has given me the deep satisfaction of helping children and families, and has also has kept me in touch with all our inner feelings that are so much a part of creating music.

Where and when are you at your most creative?

I often have moments when music simply appears to me as I awaken in the morning, am taking a shower, or other times when I am not consciously thinking of music at all. It amazes me that some part of my mind remains musically attuned at times when little else is preoccupying me. The needed space of not focusing on other defined thoughts and activities in my life leaves my mind open to music flowing in my feelings and thoughts.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I have been fortunate to collaborate with many talented virtuosos, who make my music come alive in a magical way. Their musical sensitivities and ability to add their creativity to the music has been powerful and has given me a better appreciation of the music that I compose. I would love to be able to collaborate with Izhak Perlman, as we are the same age and share a common background both with the violin and our rich Jewish heritage.

Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?

I hope that this album will provide the inner space for listeners to feel and contemplate how love enters and fills our lives in deeply personal ways. The varied instrumentation of the many pieces on this album, from solo piano to various chamber music combinations to choral and orchestral music, will hopefully give a selection of the type of music that best resonates with each person listening.

Who are your musical mentors?

My composer mentors have been Brahms, Bach, Dvorak, Rachmaninoff, and Britton, and my personal mentors from my teenage years to the present have included Shirley Bloom, Kevin Scott, and Joelle Wallach.

  • Craig Madden Morris

    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.