The Inside Story: Craig Madden Morris

Long-time PARMA artist is back again with the compilation album release of PASSAGE. Today the veteran composer is our next featured artist for “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to see what he wants his listeners to tune into…

NV6094 - Passage - Front Cover

Who was your favorite artist growing up?

My favorite artist growing up was Jascha Heifetz. His playing was so electric that I was transfixed by his recordings. I bought all the records of the violin concertos that I could find that he recorded and played them over and over. As a child learning violin, it was magical to listen to Heifetz, even though his expertise was way beyond my talents.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a composer?

I am not quite sure when the thought dawned on me, but I started writing music when I was eleven years old, writing a little solo piece for my violin. After that, the idea took hold and, during my adolescence, I began to write more and more, with the encouragement of my first composition teacher and my parents.  It became a wonderful way of discovering new sounds and ideas and trying to make them into music.  What was most special was my teacher, Shirley Bloom, who listened carefully, playing and reviewing the music together with me, and teaching me in such an insightful, exciting way without ever subverting my musical sense of what I felt or composed.

If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would that be?

I am a child psychiatrist, which remains a highly rewarding profession to me, helping children and families, which has always been tremendously satisfying. I cannot imagine a profession that could have been more meaningful.

What would you say to an artist performing your work that nobody else knows?

What I have always said on those occasions has been to tell the artist to make the music part of themselves and not worry about my feelings or exact directions.  When the artist is too intent in performing exactly what he/she felt that I wanted, the music becomes static and loses life.  The piece has to be a collaboration of music and talent of both the composer and performer. I have learned a lot about my music listening to performers play it. Their interpretations bring it to life in new ways that can often surprise me.

What does this album mean to you personally?

This music suite is a very personal statement of my feelings towards our four wonderful grandchildren and the joy they continually add to the lives of my wife Nancy and myself. They are a constant source of love and enjoyment, and this is my ode to them.  They light up our lives.

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?

I wanted to convey the intensely sweet, innocent feelings that children have an awakening to their parents’ smiles in the morning, freely playing without fear or being constricted during the day, and then sweetly drifting off to sleep at night, full of happy memories.

The compilation album PASSAGE, featuring works by Sergio Cervetti, Craig Madden Morris, Betty Wishart, and Daniel Crozier was released on Navona Records and is available to purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic

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