Memorial Events Announced for Richard Morris, Spivey Hall Organist-in Residence

Requiem Mass, Memorial Concert Planned to Celebrate His Life and Legacy

Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall, the Southeast’s premier recital hall renowned internationally for its superior acoustics and the excellence of its classical, jazz and world music artists, today announced events to celebrate the life and legacy of Richard Morris, Spivey Hall’s organist-in-residence since 1994. Morris passed away on Thursday, September 12, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident earlier that week. He was 71.

“We at Spivey Hall are deeply saddened by Richard’s passing,” said Sam Dixon, executive and artistic director, Spivey Hall. “He was an extraordinary man and a greatly gifted musician.  He will be missed not just by his Spivey Hall family, but by all those whose lives he touched with his music.”

A requiem mass is scheduled for Saturday, September 21 at 11.00 a.m., at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, located at 587 Landers Drive, SW, Mableton, Georgia, 30126. In addition to his role as organist-in-residence at Spivey Hall, Morris also served as organist at St. Francis de Sales; in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the church in support of its choir.

Morris was originally scheduled to perform at Spivey Hall on Saturday, February 1, 2014. That concert is now being reformed as a memorial concert honoring Morris; the concert is still in the planning stages and program details will be announced at a later date.

Continue reading here Born in Atlanta and raised in Smyrna, Morris began his concert career at age 12 as piano soloist with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, performing the Grieg Piano Concerto at the Fox Theatre before an audience of 5,000 people,  and was twice soloist in the Atlanta Symphony Youth Concerts during his high school years.

A pupil of the legendary Nadia Boulanger in France, Morris credited Spivey Hall founder Emilie Spivey for launching his exceptional concert career that spanned decades. She introduced him to the iconic American organist Virgil Fox, who coached him in developing his concert repertoire.  One of the few organists ever to be presented in recital by Carnegie Hall, Morris also soloed with symphony orchestras and toured extensively for Columbia Artists and the Community Concert Associations of the United States and Canada, performing some 50 concerts a season for 25 years. He garnered critical acclaim for his numerous recordings and performed as soloist for national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists.

Commanding an unparalleled knowledge of Spivey Hall’s magnificent 4,413-pipe Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ, custom-built by Fratelli Ruffatti in Padua, Italy, Morris was equally renowned for his deep mastery of style, compelling performances and incisive wit in speaking from the stage.  He gave performances in every Spivey Hall season since the organ’s dedication in 1992, including live broadcasts in November 1992 and August 1996 for public radio’s nationally syndicated program, Performance Today.

Morris is survived by his partner and business/touring manager, Robert J. Serredell, Jr., and his brother and sister-in-law, Ronald and Cynthia Morris.  Funeral arrangements are being handled by Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home; tributes for Morris can be left on the “Tribute Wall” on its website.