Press

Pacific Symphony celebrates its inner Scots

“Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, usually called the Scottish, was the main event, and it was a showcase in several respects. The woodwinds were a standout; principal clarinettist Joseph Morris had a stellar night with a memorable solo.”

– Paul Hodgins
Orange County Register

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Pacific Symphony goes big in season-opening concert

“Bookending those two pieces were Dvořák’s “Carnival Overture” and Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” The latter was the orchestra’s most impressive work of the evening with a lyrical offstage trumpet solo by Barry Perkins in the second movement, plaintive solos by principal clarinet Joseph Morris in the third movement among the highlights.”

– Robert D. Thomas
Orange County Register

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Here’s why the opening concert of the Madison Symphony Orchestra proved a stunning success

“If you missed the opening movement of Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto — written for jazz great Benny Goodman— The Ear is sorry to report that you have already missed a high point of the new season.

It was that gorgeous and that elegiac, that moving and that unforgettable.

MSO principal clarinet Joe Morris showed in the Copland what an incredible talent he possesses, a talent that allowed him at 22 to beat out 45 other clarinetists in blind auditions for his post. His pitch and tone, his technique and expressiveness all make his playing the clarinet – not an easy instrument to master – seem as effortless as breathing.”

– Jacob Stockinger
The Well-Tempered Ear

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Virtuosity and Variety

“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

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Concert review: MSO offers spectacular finale to season with Respighi and Orff

“Pines of the Janiculum” (the third movement) was gorgeous in an entirely different way. A musical inheritor of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, it is languorous and warm, with floating nightingale songs from the clarinet, oboe, and cello. The clarinet solo was especially poignant given Joseph Morris’s imminent departure from the symphony after a short, but exceptional, tenure as principal clarinetist.”

– Jessica Courtier
The Capital Times

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Pacific Symphony gives us a Russian to love

“Narong Prangcharoen’s “Absence of Time” has emotion, heft and virtuosity, featuring a quartet of capable woodwind soloists, all of them principals from the orchestra (Benjamin Smolen on flute, oboist Fields, Joseph Morris on clarinet and bassoonist Rose Corrigan), and it left the audience buzzing at intermission.”

– Paul Hodgins
OC Register

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Madison Symphony celebrates itself, rightly so

“Given his level of artistry, one might say that Morris turned the ripe young age of 25 this past Wednesday. And indeed, his surpassing brand of artistry is already known to discerning MSO fans. His inaugural concert two years ago featured the sublime woodwind weavings of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s dazzling “Scheherazade.” But to make sure we could experience every facet of Morris’s instrumental mastery, DeMain unleashed him in the Clarinet Concerto of Copland. We can be thankful on several counts for that: The work requires insane control of register and long lines in the languid opening section, and bursts of jazz and Brazilian-inspired fireworks following a cadenza rooted in the groundbreaking style of Benny Goodman (who commissioned the work).

It was a little surprising to learn that this was the MSO’s first presentation of the work, but waiting until its 90th season, when Morris could be at the helm, proved fortuitous timing.

Morris’s unfolding of the serene, yet subtly angular opening section was absurdly smooth. The work is scored for just strings with piano and harp. Indeed, the pizzicatos of the basses and harp tones plunked like the center point of radiating waves on a secluded mountain lake, and Morris’s clarinet effortlessly lifted in zephyr-like phrases that soared and glided through the strata of sonic layers in the upper strings.

Morris ripped through all the jazz riffs with aplomb, unsurprisingly, but the whole that was greater than the sum of its parts in the vibrant concluding section was a synergistic joy that bounced around the Overture Hall stage and out into the audience. One could almost imagine, once the standing ovation and raucous curtain calls had died down, Morris turning to his colleagues (who were themselves demonstrating obvious approbation) and saying “let’s do it again”—and them agreeing.”

– Greg Hettmansberger
Madison Magazine

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Individual sections shine in Madison Symphony Orchestra’s season opener

“Section chair Joseph Morris performed Aaron Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet. Commissioned by Benny Goodman, the concerto’s two movements are performed without stopping and are connected to one another by an extended cadenza.

The first movement is almost meditative. The prominently featured harp sets up the orchestra to mark time quietly as the clarinet’s ribbon-like solo floats over the top, traveling through unexpected intervals but doing so in such an unhurried fashion that it all feels rather relaxed.

During the cadenza, though, that ribbon of sound metamorphosizes into a forceful, punctuated portrait of modernity itself. This gives way to the second movement’s blending of tropes from jazz, Latin American music, and then-modern trends in art music.

Morris’ performance was by turns subtle and fierce.

– Jessica Courtier
The Capital Times

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Clarinetist Joseph Morris is Splendid in Middleton 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.”

– John W. Barker
The Isthmus

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Disciplined Romanticism from Madison Symphony

“The second half of the evening was nearly a full glorious hour of Rachmainoff’s Symphony No. 2. If you’re going to do this music, it better be heart-on-sleeve and strings on full, and DeMain and the MSO gushed for all they were worth. That’s not to say that various brass, woodwinds and percussion didn’t chime in brilliantly as needed, and principal clarinetist Joseph Morris did his best imitation of a wind player that didn’t need to breathe. His endless solo in the sublime slow movement seemed to emerge from the center of the orchestra with a weightless quality that glowed around the edges.”

– Greg Hettmansberger
Madison Magazine

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The Best and the Brightest

“Clarinetist Joe Morris is an artist diploma candidate at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. His performance of Carl  Nielsen’s wildly virtuosic Clarinet Concerto, Op. 57, which brought the evening to a spectacular close, was delightfully schizophrenic. Morris speaks through his instrument in whole phrases, paragraphs even, and the Nielsen concerto became a cornucopia of musical imagery. Morris, his colleagues in the orchestra, and maestro Muñoz gave the audience a magic carpet ride.”

– Daniel Kepl
Casa Magazine

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Review: Madison Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Piano Genius’ features Christopher Taylor’s range

“The orchestra, too, was in fine form. Numerous soloists deserve attention, most notably clarinet chair Joseph Morris, whose affecting solo in the first movement was like a song coming through the fog.”

-Jessica M. Courtier
The Capital Times

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The 25th Token Creek Chamber Music Festival: Happy Anniversary From Start To Finish

“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

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Madison Symphony Packs The Stage To Celebrate 10 Years In Overture Hall

“While Martin’s concerto [for seven winds] 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

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Demonstrating What All The Fuss Is About

“Usually of course, orchestras sell a great number of tickets by adding an international soloist and a crowd-pleasing concerto, but there was no shortage of fireworks or satisfaction in a slate of Copland, Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov. We didn’t have to wait long to hear from one of the orchestra’s newest members, principal clarinetist Joseph Morris. His glowing tone floated above ethereal strings in Copland’s suite from the ballet Appalachian Spring.”

– Greg Hettmansberger
Madison Magazine

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Academy Festival Orchestra at the Granada Theater

“The principals were outstanding, especially clarinetist Joseph Morris, who brought out the sophistication of Bartók’s writing for the female dancer.”

-Charles Donelan
Santa Barbara Independent

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MUSIC REVIEW: Kara Shaw Thomson is ‘Tosca’

“Conductor Victor DeRenzi and his orchestral forces reinforced the drama onstage just as Puccini directed. The excellence of the cello quartet followed by the haunting sound of the clarinet would be hard to surpass in the last act as Davila sang “E lucevan le stelle” with great passion and warmth.”

-June LeBell
Sarasota Observer

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Madison Debut of “Beyond the Score” Opens New Worlds of Dvorak

“All sections sounded glorious, with the woodwinds particularly luminous, led by Joseph Morris’ liquid clarinet sound”

-Greg Hettmansberger
Madison Magazine

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Heavy Duty Cultural Picknicking

“Scaling down, clarinetist Joseph morris took on the tour de force solo clarinet piece “Fantasie fur Klarinette solo,” by Jörg Widmann, channeling all manner of sounds from Benny Goodman to half-satirical avant-garde sound factors. As with Luciano Berio’s virtuosic “Sequenza” series for solo performers, this score is spread out over multiple music stands and demands that the musician move in slow-motion across the stage, whilst whizzing around the multiple points of interest, musically speaking.”

-Josef Woodward
Santa Barbara News-Press