Meet Valarie Morris

Valarie Morris has composed a large body of music, ranging from solo works to quartets and quintets to works for orchestras. She has received many commissions and always enjoys new opportunities to compose new works.

Instrumental compositions by Valarie Morris are multidimensional when they are purely instrumental, though she often combines her music with other art forms such as words, dance, visual arts, and theatre. Mood exploration and the ability to create visual images with sounds are special attributes of the music of Valarie Morris. (photo by Clare Lighton)

Sheet music and music books and recordings of music by Valarie Morris are available from Sandscape Publications, stores across the U.S. and in Canada, and online sites.

Musicals and Theatrical Works

The 8-Minute Genetically-Modified Opera by Valarie Morris received its World Premiere in January 2009. This comedic work sheds light on the effect of genetically-modified foods on humans. William Ballowe and Elizabeth Mitchell commissioned the work and premiered it with pianist Glen Smerage. Other theatrical works include:

Resistance. M. Emily Einson and Valarie Morris, set in Paris,
12-piece orchestra and chorus. (photo by VMorris)

The Gloaming, Oh My Darling. Script by Megan Terry, 5-piece instrumental ensemble.

Watching the War. Structured improvisation. Voice/actor, winds, brass, strings, piano, percussion.

Musical Influences

  • Thelonius Monk
  • Erik Satie
  • Charles Mingus
  • Anthony Braxton
  • Arturo Salinas
  • Ethel Smyth
  • Kurt Weill

    From Contemporary Music Program to Performance

    After her MA in Composition from Mills College, Valarie Morris continued performing and started a music company to publish her compositions for the public. Organizations and groups who have performed her works include:

  • Auburn High School Choir (New York)
  • Amhran Trio (New Mexico)
  • Minnesota Ballet
  • Santa Fe Brass
  • The Santa Fe Flute Choir
  • Sax Maniacs
  • Clarinoya (an eclectic clarinet quartet)
  • The Whitehouse Saxophone Quartet (a classical group)
  • Five Winged Bird (a jazz saxophone quintet)
  • Poet's Theatre Workshop and its spinoff group
  • Ovaryaction and other improvisation-based groups

    Orchestras that have performed the works of Valarie Morris include the following:

  • Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra
  • The Marin Symphony
  • Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra
  • Santa Fe Community Orchestra

    Valarie Morris is a former member of MOSAIC, a group of women composers in the Bay Area who produced a series of concerts of member's music several times a year.

    She was a guest on Bay Area radio shows that aired her music and produced a multimedia performance for a professional organization with music from TransFormations, her second album. Her third album is reeding between the lines.

    Music Instruction

    An educator, Valarie Morris teaches privately and sometimes offers workshops and classes. She teaches music theory and helps students learn to compose and arrange music. Ms. Morris also gives piano, accordion, clarinet, and saxophone lessons using a balanced approach for music enjoyment.

    And Words

    Also a writer, Valarie Morris occasionally comes up with words to go with her music or music to go with her words. Some examples are As Almost Anyone, Propaganda, Bilderdijkstraat, Notes on Notes, and The 8-Minute Genetically Modified Opera.

    To contribute to the growing library about women in music, Ms. Morris wrote articles about women performers and composers published in Strings Magazine and Mills Quarterly. Her writings about composer, conductor, writer, and political activist Ethel Smyth are published here on our website.

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