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Theodore Morrison: Organ & Choral Music / Hanoian, Schrock

Release Date: 03/30/2004 
Label:  Equilibrium   Catalog #: 54   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Theodore Morrison
Performer:  Caitlin LynchJames KibbieKarl SchrockMarilyn Mason,   ... 
Conductor:  Theodore Morrison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Michigan Chamber ChoirDetroit Chamber Winds & Strings
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Theodore Morrison comes by this music naturally. His professional life began at age nineteen, when he served as organist-choirmaster at the Baltimore Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation. In 1967, he founded the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, which he conducted with distinction for 16 years. Subsequent posts include music director and conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and a similar post at Smith College (1981–1987). He is currently director of graduate studies in conducting at the University of Michigan School of Music. Having a daughter who graduated Smith College in May of 2003 and who was and is an inveterate chorister, I was treated to a number of fine choral concerts presided over by others, and Read more given the evidence here, Smith’s choral program’s splendor probably owes a debt to Morrison’s ministrations.

The liner notes claim that Morrison’s organ music is neo-Classical—in the Hindemith, Poulenc, and Messiaen traditions. Some of that rings true, but I hear a lot more of Franck than Messiaen in his compositions. In his choral music, I detect such traditional composers as Sir Hubert Parry, John Dykes, William Horsley, and John Stainer—all delivered, however, with a dollop of harmonic spice that transcends those masters. To put it simply, Morrison is a conservative composer and an eminently practical musician. Being cutting edge is not one of my criteria for being valid. His Organ Sonata is idiomatically satisfying, and in The Gift of the Spirit, that same quality is writ large. In the choral numbers—Song for Joy, and Easter Joy, Morrison demonstrates that he is a formidable choral conductor. The Christmas Cantata Unto Us a Child Is Born opens with the chorus “Rorate celi desuper,” which invites comparison with the probably spurious early Haydn Mass of the same title. In any event, here one can assess Morrison’s skill as an orchestrator. He earns high marks.

This is superb Episcopalian devotional music in that still universally unknown and appreciated tradition—and both executed and recorded splendidly.

-- William Zagorski, Fanfare [11/2003]
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Works on This Recording

Easter Joy by Theodore Morrison
Performer:  Caitlin Lynch (Soprano), James Kibbie (Organ)
Conductor:  Theodore Morrison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Michigan Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 8 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Organ Sonata by Theodore Morrison
Performer:  Karl Schrock (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 
The Gifts of the Spirit by Theodore Morrison
Performer:  Marilyn Mason (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Unto Us a Child Is Born by Theodore Morrison
Performer:  James Kibbie (Organ), Michael Gallant (Tenor)
Conductor:  Theodore Morrison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Michigan Chamber Choir,  Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 

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