Joshua Morris — McGill’s 2017 Golden Violin Competition
by Olivier Gentil
Cellist Joshua Morris, a native of St. Albans, Vermont, is currently completing his Master’s under the wing of Brian Manker at McGill University, after obtaining his Bachelor’s at the same institution. As part of McGill’s 2016–2017 Golden Violin Competition, he brilliantly interpreted “Kaddisch”, a piece chosen from Maurice Ravel’s Deux mélodies hébraïques, Prokofiev’s suite for solo cello and Cello Sonata in C Major, as well as one of his own compositions. Joshua was awarded first prize in the competition. “It was such an honour to be named champion! It was a wonderful experience. Before the competition, I was really nervous, but afterward, I was thrilled with the outcome!”
Joshua received favourable notice last year after taking home the Peter Mendell Prize awarded by the Fondation Jeunesses Musicales Canada, an honour given to the most talented student from a Quebec university.
“I started by learning piano when I was eight years old. I continued with piano but picked up the cello the next year and, after a while, knew that it was I wanted to do for my career.” At the time when he was considering post-secondary studies, he decided to establish himself in Montreal, a city he appreciates for its unique energy and charm. “I would like to stay in Canada at the moment. Originally I’m American, but I really love Montreal. I came to the city a lot when I was a kid and I’ve really enjoyed being here for the last two years.”
Although his success speaks to his dedicated and rigorous work, he humbly acknowledges that it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and devotion of his professors and all the support he received from the university. “I couldn’t have done what I did these past years without my private teacher Brian Manker and my chamber music coach André Roy. I’m very grateful to them.”
When talking with Joshua, you can’t help but feel his love for music and openness to the world. As with all participants in this series, I asked him what his best advice would be for emerging artists. His answer: “Definitely work really hard, but always keep time for other things in life, because it will make your music making so much better. You’ve got to experience life in order to understand the music that you interpret. And only do it if you really love it!”
Translated by Isabel Garriga