Remembering Michael Morgan, Groundbreaking Conductor of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra

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Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony Jan. 19, 2018 in a concert curated by W. Kamau Bell (Photo: Courtesy Oakland Symphony)

Michael Morgan, conductor of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra died last week at 63. Morgan was known as a virtuosic conductor and a  passionate advocate for making classical music accessible to an Oakland community he was deeply invested in.  He embraced a melding of musical genres, even bringing in comedian W. Kamau Bell and activist Dolores Huerta to  curate playlists for his orchestra to perform.  “Being a classical musician, being a conductor, being Black, being gay — all of these things put you on the outside,” Michael Morgan, said in 2013. “So you get accustomed to constructing your own world because there are not a lot of clear paths to follow and not a lot of people that are just like you.” We remember Michael Morgan with some of the musicians and performers he worked with.



W. Kamau l, comedian; host, CNN's United Shades of America

Lynne Morrow, director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, professor of music at Sonoma State University

Richard Marriott , composer and trombonist, composed The Ghost Ship Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, commissioned by the Oakland Symphony