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EPS Alum Among Ten Selected to National Art Song Mentoring Program

Elizabeth, N.J., October 6, 2020 – Former Elizabeth Public Schools and Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy Class of 2016 graduate James Morris was among ten composers selected by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) to participate in the inaugural season of the NATS Mentoring Program for Composers.

The new NATS program pairs a group of celebrated art song composers with emerging and early career art song composers to promote and encourage the creation and performance of new works. For the first year, the program has been reserved for composers from underrepresented groups, with a special emphasis on Black composers.

Morris, who graduated from Westminster College with two bachelor’s degrees in Piano and Music Theory and begins graduate school this fall at the University of Colorado, has been paired with mentor Tom Cipullo.

Cipullo is an American composer who has written more than 100 art songs and has received many significant awards and commissions for his vocal works, including the Phyllis Wattis Prize for song composition from the San Francisco Song Festival (2006), the NATS Art Song Composition Award (2008), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), a Sylvia Goldstein Award from Copland House (2013), and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (2013).

Each mentee and their mentor will be working together from October 2020 to June 2021 with one-to-one online contact approximately once a month. Depending on the schedule of the mentors, the needs of the mentees, and the interests of both parties, the mentors might critique short works, give general counsel about writing for voice, offer advice about resources, point the mentees toward appropriate performers and presenters, give information about recording and publishing opportunities, and just generally be a sounding board for any questions the mentees might have.  In addition, all mentees will have access to general mentor H. Leslie Adams.

Adams, a choral conductor, show musical director, educator, and, since 1979, a full-time composer, was the recipient of the 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. His art songs have been sung by leading artists worldwide, in many languages and his orchestral works have been performed by the Prague Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony among others.

“Elizabeth Public Schools has been named a Best Community in Music Education several years and James Morris is a shining example of the great musical talent that resides in our schools,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Diane Barbosa. “Congratulations to James for the hard work and dedication he has demonstrated to reach this milestone achievement. I hope that current and future students with a gift and passion for music like James also follow their dreams and achieve college and career success.”

Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer credits Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy,  a leader in arts education that has been recognized by Arts Ed NJ as a Model School in the Arts, for providing Morris with the opportunity to grow and develop his talents.

“James’ ambition to make his mark in music was known since he introduced himself to the Jefferson Arts community by bringing his own piano to audition for acceptance into the school,” said Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “I am proud of James for all his exceptional achievements that have led to his selection for this wonderful opportunity as well as Jefferson Arts Academy for providing him an inspiring environment and strong foundation upon which he continues to build success. I look forward to hearing the music he composes and watching his career reach new heights.”