A Residency Spotlight with Elise Morris

Students in the Activism and Performance music classes are privileged to have been working with master artist Elise Morris. Ms. Morris is an award-winning vocalist, pianist, improviser and composer who has worked with Shawn Colvin, Cy Coleman and Ronnie Spector, among other artists. She is an active songwriter who experiments across genres, a fact that easily lent itself to her skilled mentoring of LIHSA students. Her exciting residency culminated with a performance at LIHSA’s Winter Festival where students performed the original pieces “Perfect” and “Spinning Too Fast.”

“One of the perks of going to LIHSA is working with professionals like Elise,” says student Christian Diehl. “She has been very inspirational.”

Morris had an equally positive experience. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students,” she says excitedly. “It was a challenge but an unexpected delight. I really liked getting to know the kids and the whole process. I think that it’s always valuable to work with real-world, seasoned professionals in the fields in which they are interested. This residency helped them understand expectations about their work and in their future professions. I had a different experience with every person because we are so diverse.”

“Elise helped us interpret different topics that we might not have thought of on our own,” says student Madison Melillo, who was grateful for the special experience.

For their culminating projects, students had to create a piece of music that spoke to issues that are important to them. “It was not an easy project because it was so broad,” says Morris. “In order to bring it to a place that was personal for the kids, they really had to consider new things beyond their immediate life experience. I think they absolutely rose to the occasion. It was a great collaboration.”