Dr. Robert Huw Morgan becomes the University Organist after a succession of co-interim organists – Kimberly Marshall, Robert Bates, and Fenner Douglass – following the retirement of Herbert Nanney. Morgan assumed directorship of the Memorial Church Choir and University Singers in 1999. Morgan, a native of Wales, received training at Cambridge University and was an Organ Scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge between 1985 and 1988. Morgan thereafter engaged in graduate studies at the University of Washington, where he obtained two DMA degrees in Organ Performance and Orchestral Conducting. As a Bach fanatic (evident by his now legendary JSB monogram tattoo), Morgan performed the complete organ works of Bach between 2009 and 2010 and directed a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the University Singers on May 19, 2012. In his program notes, Morgan elaborates upon his inspiration for putting on the Bach organ recital series: “2009 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the landmark organ by Charles Fisk in Memorial Church. This was Fisk’s last instrument and is dedicated to him and to Herbert Nanney, Stanford University Organist for nearly 48 years. In celebration of this anniversary, I will perform the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach in a series of fourteen recitals. This is music of imagination, technique, complexity, and variety, and poses many demands on the performer as well as the audience. Each recital will feature compositions in varying genres, from the intimacy of the trio sonatas to the grandeur of the large-scale preludes and fugues. Additionally, there are the many, many works based on the Lutheran hymn tunes that were so central to Bach’s work.”
The Memorial Church acoustics are ideal for the organ, but according to Morgan, the choral conductor must “mold sound in a different way” – sensitively punctuating music with rests, breath, and so forth, lest the acoustic overwhelm the music.
Bio: Dr. Robert Huw Morgan – current University Organist and director of the Memorial Church Choir and the University Singers