Tennessee Tech Professor's Tuba Source Book 'A Monument'

If you think it's difficult leading an ensemble of 20-some college musicians, try leading a group of 74 professional musicians, teachers and composers from around the world in a massive endeavor to create a single, complete information resource for an instrument still largely misunderstood by the general public.

Tennessee Technological University Music Professor R. Winston Morris has managed to do both. For nearly 30 years, he's led the pioneering Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble -- not a joke or a farce, but a serious ensemble of tubas and euphoniums that performs classical, jazz, chamber and contemporary music. The Tuba Ensemble has recorded seven albums, traveled around the world and performed at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall five times, among other places.

For the past four years, Morris has led the tuba professionals of the world in a project to provide a book one reviewer has called, "a must buy for any serious teacher, performer or quality music library, whether public or private." Already, 38 universities have declared The Tuba Source Book a required textbook, including the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the University of Texas and Penn State University.

As senior editor of The Tuba Source Book, Morris conceived the project, recruited the contributors, collected all the materials and edited the final product. Harvey G. Phillips, emeritus faculty of Indiana University, which published the book, wrote the foreword. In it, he describes the book as "everything you ever wanted to know about the [tuba] -- its evolution and heritage; those who play it, teach it, study it, and compose for it; and those who just plain love it in all its myriad forms and configurations."

Phillips continues, "I join countless others of the present and future generations who share deepest gratitude to R. Winston Morris, the mentor of this project. ... More than any other, he has tenaciously maintained the commitment, dignity, and purpose for the cause of the tuba and its rightful place in the art of music performance. ... The Tuba Source Book is a monument to [his] personal and professional expertise."

In addition to literature for the instrument, The Tuba Source Book also includes an extensive discography, career advice, guidelines for composing and arranging music for the tuba, lists of instrument builders, sources of tuba equipment and biographies of professional tubists.

In the preface, Morris notes, "The Tuba Source Book has been 158 years in the making," a complete document of the instrument and its music from its conception in 1835 to the closing research date of July 1993, making it very much, as Phillips puts it, "a monument."

Morris' recent accomplishments don't stop there. The professional ensemble that Morris conducts, Symphonia, recently released its first compact disc recording. A so-called "Dream Team" of the country's finest tuba and euphonium musicians, Symphonia recorded eleven pieces ranging from classical to jazz.

In addition, the summer issue of the TUBA (Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association) Journal for Euphonium and Tuba features an in-depth interview with Morris, conducted by a former student. The seven-page article comprises part one of a two-part series, and covers Morris' early influences, his teaching philosophy and the creation of The Tuba Source Book.