Jane Spears Carnes Fellowship in Creative Endeavors

Morrow recipient of Carnes Fellowship

Ruth Morrow, Professor and the Bolin Distinguished Chair of Piano, is the second recipient of a fellowship at Midwestern State University that will allow faculty in the creative arts to spend one semester dedicated to projects outside of the classroom.

Morrow will use the time afforded her by the Jane Spears Carnes Fellowship in Creative Endeavors to prepare solo piano music inspired by human rights issues for a professional CD and/or video recording.

“It’s overwhelming,” Morrow said. “I never thought that anything such as a semester off would be possible.” 

Since 2015, Morrow has been researching, writing, and giving lecture-recitals on the role of solo piano music in raising awareness of human rights issues. After years of discovering and performing previously written music that commemorates events such as the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, and the plight of slaves, among other human rights topics, Morrow commissioned composer Barbara York for “Seeking Refuge,” a four-movement suite for solo piano inspired by current events at the border of the United States and Mexico.

York is an award-winning concert accompanist, choral and theatrical music director, and composer who has worked in both Canada and the U.S. for more than 40 years.

Other pieces Morrow plans to record include:

“Troubled Water” by Margaret Bonds, based on the spiritual “Wade in the Water,” whose text is now believed to be code for how not to be caught while on the Underground Railroad.

“The Cherokee Variation,” part of a ballet written in 1967 by Native American composer Louis W. Ballard for Oklahoma’s 60th year of statehood and based on the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of thousands of southeastern Native Americans to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

“27 April 1945,” a sonata by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, written in 1945 after he witnessed the death march of Jews out of Dachau.

“Aghavni” (Doves) by Mary Kouyoumdjian, based on a poem about the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century.

“I can only hope my project measures up to what Jane expects is truly possible,” Morrow said.

Morrow was named Hardin Professor in 1996 and received the Faculty Award in 2009, the two highest honors for MSU Texas professors.

The Jane Spears Carnes Faculty Fellowship in Creative Endeavors, made possible by a gift from Carnes, is a support grant begun last year to reward and refresh faculty in creative fields so they might take a semester off from teaching to enhance their research, artistic endeavors, and teaching. It supports faculty activities and their replacement in the classroom for one semester.

Carnes previously owned an art gallery and gave lessons to children. After the gallery closed, she taught art to adults in her home and now writes. “I realized how imperative it is to have solitude – to experiment, to redo, to focus on a project,” Carnes said. “If I can make that available to faculty then I can rejoice in the fact that I gave someone the time that goes into producing a work of art.”

A longtime supporter of all the arts in Wichita Falls, Carnes has served on boards for the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas. She also served on the MSU Texas Board of Regents from 2008-2014.

Suguru Hiraide, Professor of Art in the Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts, was the first recipient of the fellowship, and used the spring 2019 semester to focus on creative research and learning techniques that he might pass on to his students. He also attended exhibitions of his pieces in Japan.

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