Nora Essman Morrow has been a musician all her life. As a child she composed songs on the guitar and improvised stories at the piano. Introduced to modern dance accompaniment through a music and movement class in her first year of college at The City University of New York, Nora began accompanying modern dance classes in the New York area. Continuing her musical studies and dance accompaniment at universities across the United States, her studies encompassed classical, contemporary, electronic, jazz, and music education, as each school had a different focus and specialty.
Upon returning to New York, she worked at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College and many other dance schools in the area as an accompanist and composer. Currently residing in New York, Nora teaches piano, accompanies dance, composes, and is also working on a musical/operetta about her great-grandfather’s Russian Opera Company. Her music is engaging, kinesthetic, visual, and evocative.
Today, Nora is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover which country Nora would love to perform in…
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
My mother’s side of the family were artistic-musicians—an artist and an actor. I was always encouraged to be creative but didn’t think it was something to do professionally until my second year of college when I decided to major in what I was best at—music.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
In grade school I had to perform a Bach Invention by memory at Manhattan School of Music. Walking up from the audience to the stage I saw that my mother had invited her uncle Yasha who was a composer and she hadn’t told me. I suddenly got very nervous. I started the piece and couldn’t remember past a few bars. I restarted playing to the same place a few more times until my muscle memory pulled me through to the end! I have had issues with memorizing music ever since.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching reruns of “Murder She Wrote” and “Matlock.”
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to have my own group performing in an outdoor amphitheater in Greece. To be playing with other musicians is always a thrill and I have never been to Greece but have always had this image of performing in an open amphitheater there—either there or in a museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. There is a beautiful open space there with windows all around.
What does this album mean to you personally?
Altius Quartet brought to life such a varied array of string quartets. They are able to play romantically, have fun with pieces, and also play with a contemporary flair. For me, hearing a piece I wrote alone in my living room blossom into sonorous reality is a thrill beyond words. I am proud to have a piece on this very cool album.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
The feeling would be of growing, evolving, and blossoming, ending in a playful joyousness. I named it Rose Moon in the hope that the piece would evoke the evolution of a beautiful flower (or anything really—a person, a life, a project) moving from a seed into a fully bloomed flower. A feeling of shimmering and elevation leads to the full bloom of a rose simply being, under the life force of the sun, in the breeze.
Rose Moon on QUADRANTS VOL 3 will be available for streaming or purchase through Navona Records on July 26. Click here to pre-order.