Chuck L. Morey ’57 (Music Ed) April 10, 1931 – June 10, 2018
Charles L. Morey, lifelong music educator, consummate drummer, loving husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, died June 10, 2018 after a brief illness. His rich life of 87 years was driven by his love for God, his family and a passion for all things music.
Born in 1931 in North Chili, New York, Chuck was the sixth of seven children. Steeped in an environment of music and creativity throughout his childhood, he went on to pursue Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in music education from Roberts Wesleyan College and later Ithaca College. To further hone his skills, Chuck studied percussion with William Street, artist-teacher at Eastman School of Music, and studied conducting with Dr. Frederick Fennell, originator of the celebrated Eastman Wind Ensemble.
After graduating, Chuck spent 10 years as a school band director and instrumental music teacher at Middlesex Valley Central School and Greece Olympia High School. During that time he conducted multiple jazz, concert and marching bands and taught as many as 160 lessons each week. For the 30 years that followed, he was Director of Bands and later Chairman of the Music Department at Monroe Community College, where he eventually retired as Professor Emeritus of Music. He also taught percussion at Roberts Wesleyan College, and at Eastman School of Music.
In decades-long demand as a percussion clinician, music festival producer and contest judge, Chuck also performed in radio and TV commercials, variety shows, jazz concerts and dances. He authored a number of drum set method books, percussion solos and ensembles for student competitions. Throughout his career, Chuck was actively involved in the New York State School Music Association, Percussive Arts Society, Music Educators National Conference and International Association of Jazz Educators.
Equally at home holding a pair of drumsticks, timpani mallets, or conductor’s baton, Chuck’s stylistic expertise spanned musical genres that include, but were not limited to, classical, big band, Broadway, Dixieland, Motown, and jazz.
After a stint as principal percussionist with the 89th Army Band during the Korean War, Chuck went on to play with such greats as the bands of Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey, Clyde McCoy, Ralph Flannigan, Carmen Cavallaro, Ray McKinley, the Urbie Green quartet, the George Giroux Trio, and Erdogan Capli, known best as “Piano Pasha.”
Chuck’s skill behind a drum set earned him a coveted place in pit orchestras backing such headliners as Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Andy Williams, Jerry Lewis, Danny Thomas, Phyllis Diller, George Goebel, Doc Severinson, Clark Terry, Jack Jones, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstine, Carmen McCrae, Frankie Laine, Helen Forrest, Theresa Brewer, Vic Damone, Al Martino, Sarah Vaughan, Smothers Brothers, Maureen McGovern and Carol Channing.
In Chuck’s words, “variety is the key to continued enjoyment in writing, performing and teaching music.” That’s why each day he tried to work on something new, or to refine something old — so he wouldn’t “fall into a rut.”
The timpanist and percussion leader in the Penfield Symphony for a number of years, Chuck was also a percussionist with the Kaminski International Kazoo Quartet, which regularly toured the U.S.A. as guest artists with symphony orchestras, presenting their spoof on the classics.
Chuck said he really always enjoyed ‘the challenge that comes from trying to play appropriately in whatever musical style is being played at the moment.”
After retiring from formal music education, Chuck continued to lead community bands, ensembles and pit orchestras for a variety of public events, including the Canandaigua YMCA Show.
“I find that today I get just as big a kick out of performing as I did the very first time,” Chuck said recently.
Donations may be made in Chuck’s name to World Vision at www.wvi.org/child-sponsorship.
About Chuck’s recent work:
Charles L. Morey first wrote the hymn, “Heavenly Father, We Adore Thee,” in 1957 when he was a senior in college. The piece reflected the perspective of a young man who was about to launch the career of his dreams.
Nearly fifty years later — armed with a lifetime of wisdom and experience — Chuck revisited the hymn to see how the faith of his youth has stood the test of time. Not surprisingly, his abilities as a composer, arranger and lyricist had evolved, and the truths he proclaimed in 1957 were further solidified and amplified in 2015.
The new arrangement for vocal choir and wind ensemble, describes a journey which includes faith, certainty, questions and puzzling answers. The lyrics at once proclaim God’s love and faithfulness, while acknowledging and grieving over the sin that permeates the world.
“The world sees success as winning by getting the getting the upper hand over others — in wars, politics, financial dealings, interpersonal and family relationships, criminal acts and violence,” Chuck said. “God’s plan would have us serve others by lifting them up and helping them in whatever way we can.”
A call out to God petitions Him for help, insight and understanding in the face of brokenness. And when understanding is out of reach — “that’s when faith takes over,” the choir sings with quiet determination. The closing moments of the piece weave together fragments of classic hymns, and its final notes come to rest on a lifelong foundation of faith in God.
In many ways, the piece not only reflects Chuck’s spiritual journey, but also the diversity of his musical journey. It moves quickly and easily from one genre to another, alternately leaning into hymnody, brass fanfares, jazz harmonies and rhythms, fugue, spoken word, and a soldier’s march.
“I hope this piece helps people to confront their sincere feelings about their faith in God, as opposed to merely discussing them in conversations,” said Chuck. “What they end up feeling is their business, and how they each respond is a totally personal decision.”