OUSD mourns the lack of Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony Music Director, longtime supporter of Oakland Unified Music College students | Oakland Information now

OUSD mourns the loss of Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony Music Director and longtime supporter of Oakland Unified Music Students

Oakland – In the past 30 years, there has been no greater proponent of music education in our schools than The Oakland Symphony Maestro Michael Morgan. The Music Education Community in our schools celebrates his life and decades of work at our schools connecting symphonic music with the students of Oakland. He inspired Music for Excellence (MUSE), which brought countless professional musicians into OUSD’s music classes to work with students on a weekly basis to develop their skills on their instruments. Morgan inspired three multi-school orchestras including MUSE, MUSE Vivo and the West Oakland Spirit Orchestra. Each year he was a mainstay of the district’s annual district orchestra festival, rehearsing and conducting the finals with more than 300 middle and high school students from across the district performing together. Michael Morgan died on August 20 at the age of 63 in the Oakland Emperor.

“Maestro Morgan has always been friendly, warm, approachable, and Oakland’s music programming’s best friend anyone could wish for,” said Fillmore Rydeen, OUSD director of visual and performing arts. “We are really blessed by his presence. He will always be remembered, he will always be missed and, above all, his influence will always be felt in our schools. “

Numerous OUSD teachers were given the opportunity not only to let Maestro Morgan work with their students, but also to work professionally with him. Here’s what some of them had to say about Morgan and his impact.

“Michael Morgan took over the leadership of the orchestra at SF Conservatory in 1997 when I was studying there,” said Jessica Ivry, who teaches music at Manzanita SEED, Manzanita Community and Sequoia elementary schools. “Michael conducted us in Strauss’“ Ein Heldenleben ”and I think I held my breath at every rehearsal and concert. I sat as assistant solo cellist and was so nervous about making a mistake. I wish I could practice that hard all over again !! He was tough, but musically he got the best out of us and I’ve seen that over and over again in his concerts with the Oakland Symphony over the years. He just stopped by last summer to hear the middle school strings doing our rehearsals for the summer string program, and he was very attentive to be there and give them feedback. He will be missed! “

“I’ve been fortunate to work with Michael Morgan in a number of ways,” said Linda Green, who teaches music in Thornhill and Cleveland elementary schools. “I’ve performed with the Oakland Symphony many times, he came to my schools at OUSD and sent MUSE mentors to work with the students, and I got to play at the Gateways Music Festival that he was conducting and is composed of Musicians of African descent. It cannot be emphasized enough how many great things he has done for OUSD, the Bay Area and the world. He supported our children’s education and built a community by bringing people together. All of this while you are a world class conductor. Thanks for everything, Michael Morgan. “

“The first professional conductor I ever saw on the podium was Michael Morgan, and I’ve seen him there like an old friend all my life,” said Adam Green, music teacher at Skyline High School. “I think the moment I cherish the most (and there are many) happened just a month ago. He had posted an excited status late one evening that he was finally allowed to drive again after his kidney transplant and warned us all to be careful. Imagine my surprise when the very next morning as I was conducting rehearsals for the Oakland Summer Strings Program he came in to spend the day with kids. I couldn’t help but think, ‘Wow, they just gave you freedom last night and THIS is the first place you go ?!’ For a man who loved his community, music, and service as much as he did, it only makes sense. Thank you, sir, for everything you have done and given to the world, the music and me. “

Here is a recap of Maestro Morgan’s life, career, and death from the New York Times. OUSD offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maestro Morgan, the Oakland Symphony, and all Oakland Unified students and staff who have had the pleasure of working with him over the past three decades.

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