Adrian Morris: 1965 – 2015

A personal tribute by Professor John Miller, Head of School of Wind, Brass and Percussion.

On Monday 21 September the RNCM lost a fine friend, a wonderful musician, a motivational tutor and leader of his students who peacefully and graciously gave up a five-year battle with a progressive illness.

Adrian Morris was the College’s tutor of bass trombone, beloved of all his students, College staff and his colleagues in the Hallé Orchestra with whom he continued to play until this summer.

Trombonist Adrian Morris Fellowship

His musical background was cultivated in his native Shropshire, where he was attracted to the brass bands and local orchestras which were enriched by both his exceptional talent and an infectious gregarious nature. This led to study at the RNCM from 1983 -1987 where he picked up the most prestigious awards available at that time. Further study, supported by a Countess of Munster Award, was short-lived because he was snapped up by the Ulster Orchestra, where he worked hard and played hard for 11 years. A further prize of this era was a bright-eyed local cornet player, his wife Carole, the love of his life. These formative years were greatly influenced by the brass band world, where his playing in the televised Granada Band of the Year competition led to some celebrity, still remembered and admired by many. He was a member of The Leyland, Desford Colliery and the Foden’s bands, the best of the day, and was taught a great deal about professional protocol by Howard Snell, Head of Brass at RNCM and conductor of Foden’s, who not only knew everything about the music business, but cannily earmarked many young musicians who would make it to the top, many working in RNCM today.

Adrian, known to all as Benny, returned to Manchester and the Hallé in 1999 and soon joined the staff of the College where he had studied with Nev Roberts, Terry Nagle and a young Peter Gane. This was, in its day, one of the best departments on this planet. Benny matured into an outstanding orchestral player. He was considered equally famous as the long line of notable Hallé solo trombones as the foundation of the brass section, who kept everyone around him in tune; high integrity, beautifully balanced.

This professional integrity extended to his teaching, and he was unfailingly a wonderful role model to young players. Benny was an uncomplicated man, but was a stickler for detail, whether the subject matter was steam trains, Indian food, high quality ale or the idiosyncrasies of the orchestral conductor. I quote one short anecdote to conclude – two years ago I was searching for a new international tutor of trombone for RNCM. Benny suggested a highly busy and charismatic Hungarian called Zoltan Kiss, a member of Mnozil Brass. My reaction was that Zoltan would be too busy and Benny would have no chance – you can guess what the outcome was!

We soon bid farewell to one of the real personalities of the brass world. Benny’s funeral is on Thursday October 1 at 12pm, St Mark’s Church, Worsley M28 2WH. He leaves a remarkable legacy behind him.

Picture caption: RNCM Principal Professor Linda Merrick awards Adrian Morris with Fellowship of the RNCM in June 2015

25 September 2015