Greg Morris, organist

Who or what inspired you to take up the organ, and pursue a career in music?

As a child growing up, there was always music on the radio at home. I joined my first choir when I was 7, and was fortunate to have a piano at home, which I played incessantly, and plenty of opportunities to perform, which I have always loved. When I was 11, I was roped in to play the organ at my local church when the organist retired – and so things rather snowballed from there!

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

The conductor of my first choir, Gordon Stewart, was a very inspirational musician, and I studied the organ with some fantastic players to whom I am greatly indebted – Andrew Dean, Paul Stubbings, John Kitchen and Thomas Trotter. But in music you never stop learning, and throughout my career there have been countless people I have worked with – soloists, instrumentalists, choir men at the Temple, colleagues – who have inspired me in one way or another, both large and small. And I also take a lot from the commitment and enthusiasm of the amateur musicians I work with week by week.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Balancing the constant demands of a professional career with family life.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

The recording of which I’m most proud is my performance of Leighton organ music from Blackburn Cathedral, as I think it brought music that is under-valued to a wider audience – and the ambience and atmosphere of the building as well as the visceral excitement of the instrument is superbly captured by the sound engineer. In terms of live performance, it has to be conducting staged performances of Purcell’s Fairy Queen in Middle Temple Hall, a project which took me out of my comfort zone but was both inspiring and huge fun!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

My first love is baroque music, and Bach in particular – as I’m currently performing all Bach’s organ works [at Temple Church in London], I hope I play them well!

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

It is usually a combination of what I’m asked to play, and whatever I’m interested in or feel would suit me at any particular time.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

As an organist, this is inextricably bound up with the instrument in the building, and so my answer has to be St Bavo’s in Haarlem – the most exquisite organ in the world, and one which is perfectly matched to its acoustic. Closer to home, my regular place of performing at Temple has an equally beautiful acoustic, and as I know the church’s wonderful organ better than any other instrument, it is always a pleasure performing there.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

An impromptu concert in St Peter’s Square in Rome. We had taken a choir of 13-19-year-olds on tour to Rome, which finished with singing mass in the basilica. When it finished, they decided they had not yet done enough singing – and so launched into their favourite repertoire in the square, quickly attracting an audience of slightly bemused tourists!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

A performance which moves someone.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Be yourself

What is your most treasured possession?

My practice organ – buying it a few years ago transformed my life!

What do you enjoy doing most?

Walking with my family in the Alps

Greg Morris’ performances of Bach’s complete organ music continue at Temple Church, London. Further information here

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