Ben Morris (b.1993) explores the intersections between jazz and concert music. A recent graduate from the University of Miami, Ben is currently pursuing his masters’ at Rice University as a Brown Fellow. He has studied with Lansing McLoskey, Eric Ewazen, Stephen Hartke, Chet Biscardi, Missy Mazzoli and Brian Lynch, among others. LUNAR Ensemble, Cadillac Moon, Living Earth Show, Resound Duo, Fredericksburg Brass, American Modern Ensemble, the Cleveland Orchestra, Imani Winds, and the Frost Symphony and Concert Jazz Band have performed his music. Ben received an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, a NJMEA Composers Award, the 2015 Frost Concerto Competition Prize, and two Klezmer Company Orchestra Composers’ Prizes, and three Festival Miami Composers’ Awards. Ben attended the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, New Music on the Point and interns with film composer Michael Bacon.
“Old Seven Mile” is the longest continuous bridge over open water, located in the Florida Keys. The first bridge built there, completed in 1935, still stands, but it’s a shadow of a newer bridge built in the 80’s. A drive on the new bridge provides views of the old, which is a ghost of the golden age of expansion in Florida. The image of the bridge stuck in my mind and returned to me in a series of dreams in which the old bridge was being constructed but never fully completed.
The work conveys the idea of the bridge-in-progress with a broad theme that is ghosted in the beginning in the trumpets and low oboe that is expanded later in the piece. The frantic, insistent music of the beginning is an imagined scene of the construction of the bridge during a storm, with whirling winds, heavy machinery, and dredging boats working to connect the two islands together. The frantic construction is interrupted by a moment of solitude and beauty – a night full of stars on the water, before returning to the bustling activity of the construction.
listen to Ben’s Ceiba Pentandra: