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SIMPLY JESSICA: Trevor Morris talks about becoming a music composer

A 3-year-old Canadian boy sat at the piano as his grandmother watched him touch the keys. His grandmother could tell that music was going to be his calling in life.

If he followed the music road, she knew that music would manifest itself in her grandson’s life. He simply needed to listen to the music that was playing in his life.

Trevor Morris was in the eighth grade when he composed his first piece for his graduating class. It was the first thing that the 13-year-old boy had composed since embarking upon his music journey.

The $50 that Morris was paid as a composer as a young boy was the motivation that he needed to keep pushing toward his music dream. He was now in his late 20s when he started composing advertising jingles in his Toronto hometown.

Morris decided to follow that line of work and moved to Hollywood with no plans just the dream of writing music for movies and television.

He had been in Los Angeles for six years when he got his first project to work on. It was a Hans Zimmer project. That project took him from the outside of Hollywood into the eye of the storm.

“It was a great experience for me to learn how Hollywood works from the inside out,” Morris said.” It took some time for me to get my own steam.”

Besides composing film scores, Trevor Morris also enjoys conducting orchestras. (Courtesy photo)
Besides composing film scores, Trevor Morris also enjoys conducting orchestras.
(Courtesy photo)

The emotional music storyteller now scores NBC’s “Emerald City,” “Taken” and Netflix’s Marvel adaption “Iron Fist.” He is known for his crafted scores in period television such as History Channel’s “Vikings”and ABC’s “Of Kings and Prophets.” He has won two Emmys, one for each main title theme for Showtime’s “The Borgias” and “The Tudors.”

He has received an Emmy nomination for the score for Starz’s “The Pillars of the Earth.” He has composed feature films such as “Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen” and the sequel, “Babak Najafi’s London Has Fallen.” He has more than 15 solo feature film credits, 25 primetime television series and five interactive titles.

How does Morris make all these different titles stand out?

“I think every project is different,” Morris said. “I just finished ‘Emerald City’ which is a dark re-telling of “The Wizard of Oz,” which is a unique place to be. I wanted to make it sound different.”

He is quick to point out that composing is a team effort.

“I have dialogue with the director, actors and producers,” Morris said. “I always start with the questions: What story are we telling? Who is important to us? I take into account the aesthetics with the piece and from there I formulate themes that go along with the narrative and then I find the point of entry.”

Morris loves each project that he has composed, but “The Tudors” has a special place in his heart.

“I have an affinity for ‘The Tudors,’” Morris said. ”It’s about Henry the 8th. It’s the show that propelled my career. This is the project that gave me momentum and launched my career. I wouldn’t use the word proud, because I’m proud of all my projects. It’s hard to break into Hollywood and this project put me down a path of being unique.”

The self-taught composer studied music as a child until he was 14. If he could meet the younger version of himself he would tell him to keep studying music along his music journey.

“I’m not big on regrets,” Morris said. ”There is no finish line to music. You can never know it all. I wish that I had kept studying piano and composition. It would have made it easier for me.”

Morris would love to score space and science fiction.

“The one genre that I haven’t scored that I want to is space and science fiction,” Morris added. “That genre is so wide open for imagination and music. It’s a dream genre that I want to get to.”

Morris enjoys being a concert conductor. He has conducted a full orchestra and choir for an audience of 12,000 fans in Poland at the Krakow Music Festival. He conducted the first concert dedicated to television as the Fimucite Festival in Tenerife, Spain.

“I’m addicted to it,” Morris said. “It is something that is new to my life. I got into this world about four or five years ago and it has been an amazing cool journey. The fans come out because they love your music. To conduct an orchestra live is such an amazing thing.”

Be yourself! I’m Simply Jessica JcAden. You can reach me at jess.gosnell@gmail.com.