Joseph Morag 2022

Soloist Spotlight: Joseph Morag

Joseph Morag, acclaimed by the New York Times for his "gorgeous tone," and "physically expressive cues,” has performed extensively as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral violinist. He studied with Aaron Rosand under the prestigious Dolan Prize, awarded by Columbia University. Joseph has appeared as soloist and concertmaster with the Vancouver Symphony, Columbia University Orchestra, Empire Chamber Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, and National Orchestral Institute Festival Orchestra. This summer, he performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto on five hours notice with the Monteux Festival Orchestra. Currently, Joseph plays with the Chelsea Symphony, Apex Ensemble, and Symphoria.

On Friday, December 2nd, Joseph will perform Scottish Fantasy by Max Bruch with The Chelsea Symphony. In anticipation of the concert weekend, we reached out to him for a behind-the-scenes Q&A session.

The Chelsea Symphony: Can you tell us about your first time playing with TCS?
Joseph Morag: My first TCS concert was 2017, in my senior year of college. It was my first year out of the New York Youth Symphony and feeling nostalgic, I reached out to Mark, who was Assistant Conductor of NYYS during my first year there in 2007. He invited me to play in that first concert, and I’ve been coming back ever since.

TCS: What keeps you coming back to TCS?
JM: I continue to play with Chelsea because I cherish the experience of making music with my friends in the orchestra. Everyone in the orchestra is there for the love of the music and after every Chelsea series I am reminded of why being a musician is such a wonderful thing.

TCS: What makes this work significant to you? Does it have a story?
JM: When I was in college, my teacher, Aaron Rosand, gave me two weeks to learn Scottish Fantasy for a lesson. I spent those two weeks feverishly practicing every moment that I wasn’t busy writing papers or doing physics problem sets. When it came time for the lesson, to both my and my teacher’s surprise, I actually made it through the piece. This set the tone for the rest of my violin education, where we burned through huge swaths of the repertoire at a breakneck pace. Demonstrating that I could learn quickly caused Mr. Rosand to push me that much harder during our time together, which made me the musician I am today, all thanks to this piece.

TCS: What is the most challenging part of playing a concerto?
JM: Playing a concerto is a bit like running a marathon that you can’t prepare for in advance. Of course there’s rehearsals and individual practice time, but nothing can really simulate the experience of balancing technical mastery with emotional expression on stage for 35 minutes with hundreds of people watching.

TCS: What about the most fun part of playing a concerto?
JM: When practicing for a concerto, I fantasize about the ending of the piece and how glorious it will be. In the performance, when I get to the last phrase of the last movement, the sensation of imminent victory and the culmination of all the work it takes to perform a concerto is the best feeling in the world.


Join us at 8pm on Friday, December 2nd at St. Paul's Church at 315 West 22nd Street for Joseph’s performance of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy!