The Holiday Season Gives Light to David Morrow's Love for Music
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
The early darkening days during the soft chill of winter becomes the Morehouse College Glee Club's time to shine.
It comes from the music that director David Morrow leads -- music that forms the aural backdrop for November and December - signaling the beginning of another holiday season.
83rd Annual Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Carol Concert
Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel
Sisters Chapel at Spelman College
Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel
|WABE Feature on the Morehouse College Glee Club | Download the Poster (pdf)
"People come from everywhere to use our annual Christmas concert to start their season, so it's always a lot of fun," said Morrow, a 1980 graduate who is associate professor of music and director of the renowned Morehouse College Glee Club. "I've had people tell me that they leave directly from the concert to hang decorations or put up their Christmas tree."
The 83rd Annual Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Carol Concert takes place this year at 8 p.m. on both Friday, Dec. 4, and Sunday, Dec. 6, in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. The Saturday, Dec. 5, concert will be held at 8 p.m. in Sisters Chapel at Spelman College. All three performances are free and open to the public, but tickets are required for the Spelman concert. Call (404) 270-5068 for ticket information.
On Dec. 6, a nationwide audience also will get a chance to see the magic of the evening when The Gospel Music Channel airs the 2008 concert at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Georgia Public Broadcasting will show the 2008 concert at 7 p.m. on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.
The holiday season is only one of the times of the year where Morrow's love of music shows. He is a professor, leads the Wendell P. Whalum Concert Singers, and is the conductor of the Atlanta Singers.
And just as much as people love to hear the results of his work, Morrow says he just loves putting it all together for audiences.
"Singing is joyful, as well," he said. "But it's not always as rewarding for me as is being able to make and share the music with other people."
Morrow was born in Rochester, N.Y. His father dabbled in gospel quartets while his mother "loves music," Morrow said with a chuckle. "But she will tell you she can't carry a tune."
All genres of music wafted through their home. The effect: Morrow always wanted to be a musician.
"I've always been involved in musicals and singing all through school," he said. "Coming to Morehouse (as a student), I wasn't looking at music as a major, but as one of my former students said to me, 'Music chose me. I didn't choose music.'"
It was then that Morrow came under the tutelage of Wendell P. Whalum, a stern task-master who wanted the best from his students.
"It was wonderful. Very challenging," said Morrow. "He did not let down any standards for anybody. You had to reach the standard. But he himself was one of the finest musicians in the country."
After graduating from Morehouse (he was class valedictorian) and working by Whalum's side as assistant director of the Glee Club, and then taking over when Whalum died, Morrow found himself adopting many of the same teaching standards as his mentor.
"Precision matters - even the smallest details. He won't let it go until he gets what he wants," said junior music major Tyrone Clinton Jr. "But it really doesn't matter because that is what sets great musicians apart."
"It's not for the sake of being demanding," Morrow said. "But I want them to know that's what they need to be prepared."
Audiences worldwide have adored the results. Morrow has led the Glee Club on tours of Russia, Poland, Bermuda and, this past spring, in South Africa. He conducted the combined choirs and brass of all the Atlanta University Center schools during the academic convocation for Nelson Mandela and has been a guest conductor all over the world.
"Everybody enjoys Christmas music - even people who are not Christians," he said. "People just enjoy the season and the music is just joyful and special."
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