Professor Who Developed UT’s Renowned Choirs Has Died

Morris Beachy, University of Texas choral director and professor emeritus, died Sunday, Feb. 6, at age 82.

Beachy spent 37 years at the University, beginning in 1957, and his legacy lives on today in the nine choral ensembles he founded, including the UT Chamber Singers, the Longhorn Singers, and the University Chorus.

Under his direction, UT’s choral program because one of the country’s most prominent.

“Dr. Beachy was a consummate musician who set an extraordinarily high standard of choral performance and profoundly impacted choral conductors and singers not only in Texas, but throughout this country,” says James Morrow, director of choral activities and associate professor of choral conducting in the Butler School of Music.

“His choirs always sang with a gorgeous tone,” Morrow says, “and with a highly refined and expressive delivery of the text. He loved words and loved creating vocal colors that captured the complexities of their meanings. The choral art has lost one of its most exquisite interpreters, to be sure. I’m immensely grateful I had the opportunity to be his student.”

Morton Meyerson, BA ’61, also benefited from the tutelage of Beachy. Despite being an economics major, Meyerson “walked on” to the A Cappella Choir, which was typically for music majors only.

“I was walking by his choir room one day when I was a freshman,” he says, “and I heard people singing, so I took a seat at the back of the room to listen. He saw me, stopped rehearsal and asked who I was. I told him and he asked if I could sing. I told him yes, I’m a bass. He asked me then to join them in rehearsal and I sang under his direction for the next four years. Singing in the choir was one of my greatest experiences at UT because Beachy was a master conductor, a master musician, and a master psychologist. I loved music and could sing, but under him, I was part of a well-oiled community.”

Meyerson later established the Marlene and Morton Meyerson Centennial Professorship in Music, which Beachy held when he retired in 1993.

Beachy was also a behemoth in the Austin choral community. He had a long association with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, that included preparing major choral works as well as occasionally serving as guest conductor and soloist. He also served as chorus master for the first six seasons of Austin Lyric Opera.

Beachy performed as a baritone soloist and was a prolific author on singing and choral performance.

Members of the Morris Beachy Singers will perform at his memorial, Tuesday, Feb. 15, at Unity Church of the Hills in Austin. The Butler School of Music has planned a memorial for the spring.

Photo courtesy of the College of Fine Arts.



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