The Houston Symphony announces clarinetist Joseph Morris as the winner of the 42nd annual Ima Hogg Competition, one of a few annual nationwide multi-instrument competitions. The announcement was made in front of a live audience on Saturday, June 3, after the finals concert at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall.
A partnership between the Houston Symphony League and the Houston Symphony, the prestigious competition identifies and supports outstanding young instrumentalists and their pursuit of careers in music. Chaired by Barbara McCelvey, this year’s Ima Hogg competition attracted nearly 80 candidates ranging from ten instruments and a wide variety of nationalities.
The Grace Woodson Memorial Award was presented to Morris by John and Tracy Dennis in memory of John Dennis’ grandmother, a close friend of Miss Ima Hogg. A 2012 graduate of USC’s Thornton School of Music, Morris took home a cash prize of $25,000 and a gold medal, in addition to earning a solo appearance with Houston Symphony at the Donor and Subscriber Appreciation Concert on Wednesday, July 12th, at Jones Hall.
Joseph Morris will join the Pacific Symphony of Orange County, California as Principal Clarinet this summer after being chosen as the winner of their May auditions for the position.
Pacific Symphony, currently in its 37th season, is led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, who celebrates his 26th season with the orchestra in 2015-16. The largest orchestra formed in the U.S. in the last 50 years, the Symphony is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene, as well as in its own community of Orange County.
“It was that gorgeous and that elegiac, that moving and that unforgettable. It was nothing short of sublime.”
– Jacob Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear
“Morris’s clarinet effortlessly lifted in zephyr-like phrases that soared and glided through the strata of sonic layers in the upper strings.”
– Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine
“Morris’ performance was by turns subtle and fierce.”
– Jessica Courtier, Capital Times
“The absolutely brilliant new, young first clarinetist of the orchestra, Joseph Morris, is a fabulous soloist. During simple passages and extremely demanding fast ones, he is able to meet the great virtuosic demands while also demonstrating the nuances of color of which the clarinet is capable.”
– John Barker, The Isthmus
To read the reviews in more detail, visit the Press page.
“DeMain put [Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony] on the first program on Sept. 25, alongside the symphony’s first performance of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, featuring rising star and MSO principal Joseph Morris.”
Clarinetist Joseph Morris is Splendid in Middle Community Orchestra’s 2014 Holiday Concert
“[Gerald Finzi’s] splendid Concerto for Clarinet and Strings was the astute choice of soloist Joseph Morris, the dazzling young clarinetist currently gracing the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Morris proved a virtuosic but eloquent champion of this witty and imaginative work. He was properly assertive in the opening movement, and really swinging in the playful rondo-finale. But he was particularly appealing in the beautiful middle movement, in which the orchestra’s string players demonstrated their progress as a handsomely focused ensemble.
There are not that many important clarinet concertos, much less great ones. But Morris and Kurr have allowed us to hear a great one, and one that should be placed up there close to Mozart’s masterpiece.”
“Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments (1949) brought DeMain off his podium and down among seven principals, arranged in a semi-circle. The orchestra, too, shrunk for this 24 minute piece, which paired strings and four percussionists with a small corps of winds.
While Martin’s concerto aimed to highlight each soloist in turn, three of the woodwinds — Joseph Morris, the symphony’s dazzling young clarinet principal, veteran oboist Marc Fink, who played the same solo when the MSO last performed this piece in 1976, and Stephanie Jutt on flute — seemed to get the flashiest parts.”
– Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times
The Madison Symphony Orchestra opens it’s 2014-15 with the “Orchestral Splendor” program September 19 – 21 at the Overture Center. Featured in the program on Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds are the Principal Musicians of the MSO Winds and Brass sections, pictured above. Tickets are available at overturecenter.org
“The composition [John Harbison’s Songs America Loves to Sing] really takes off at mid-point with #5 setting “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in an easy swing, with #6, “St. Louis Blues,” quite naturally growing out of that sensibility. Then in “Poor Butterfly” Joseph Morris spun out a long solo/cadenza that gave us a chance to savor all of his individual mastery; when the others join the movement develops into the most profound statement of the whole piece.” – Greg Hettsmanberger, Madison Magazine
Joseph Morris has been offered the Principal Clarinet position with the Sarasota Opera Orchestra for their 2015 season which runs from January through March in Sarasota, Florida. Highlights of this season include performances of Puccini’s Tosca, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, and Verdi’s Don Carlos. For more information visit sarasotaopera.org.