Yamaha Artist Mo Pleasure visits the RNCM for inaugural masterclass

The RNCM had the pleasure of hosting Morris ‘Mo’ Pleasure on Friday 1 December, the first Yamaha Artist to take part in the Popular Music programme’s Friday Masterclass Series.

As a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and touring musician, Mo has recorded and performed with numerous musical legends including Ray Charles, Najee, George Duke, Earth Wind & Fire, Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson, Peter Cetera, David Foster and Bette Midler.

Chris Irvine, Yamaha Product Manager for Synthesiser and Pro Audio, spoke enthusiastically about the new partnership between Yamaha and the RNCM: ‘We aim to make it a regular occurrence where more Yamaha artists like Mo will come and share their musical journey and development with students. We’re excited about the prospect,’ he said.

The masterclass began with a range of personal anecdotes from Mo, who spoke of his childhood in Connecticut where he began piano lessons at age four, to his current work as Bette Middler’s musical director. Mo discussed particular mile-stones along the way, including studying a Bachelor of Arts degree in music at the University of Connecticut, his first professional gig in 1986 as a bass player with Ray Charles, playing keyboard with jazz saxophonist Najee from 1989-1991, joining Earth, Wind & Fire in 1993 and performing with a string of high-profile musicians from 2001 including Janet Jackson, Christina Aguleira, Michael Jackson and Maxwell.

After answering a round of questions, the second half of the masterclass featured performances from several student ensembles, with Mo joining in on stage and sharing his expertise.

Mo hoped his visit would inspire RNCM popular music students to follow their own paths: ‘After 30 years in the music business, I want students to know that if they can imagine it, they can do it, and that their best bet is to bet on themselves and go after their dreams,’ he said.

Andy Stott, Head of Popular Music at the RNCM, expressed his enthusiasm about Mo’s visit: ‘The Friday Masterclass Series is rated by our students as one of the highlights of the Popular Music programme and to work alongside a musician of Mo Pleasure’s calibre is a truly inspirational opportunity for them. Mo is a true gentleman and a great musician and it was an honour to have him at the RNCM. It was also pleasing to hear him speak so highly of our College and students.’

It is an exciting year for the RNCM’s partnership with Yamaha: from the recent visit by marimba virtuoso and Yamaha Artist Keiko Abe, to the Yamaha Foundation of Europe Awards to be held at the College in February. We are thrilled to work together to offer inspiring musical opportunities for students.


20 December 2017