Award-winning CCA grad Chase Morrin returns to San Diego for collaborative concerts


An accomplished Carmel Valley pianist/composer will return home to San Diego later this month for two special collaborative performances.

Chase Morrin, 24, will present concerts at a biology and biotech-focused TEDX talk at the Salk Institute on July 28, 1 p.m., and at Dizzy’s jazz club on July 29, 7 p.m. Each of the performances will also feature Morrin’s friends — Lesley Mok, drums; Max Kraus, bass; Wonmi Jung, vocals; and Lihi Haruvi, soprano saxophone — who have joined together from different parts of the world to write three pieces for the concerts, exploring the concept of growth and connectivity.

Morrin now has two master’s degrees in music after earning his undergraduate degree in computer science and neurobiology from Harvard. He has earned numerous awards for music composition, performance and more, and has toured and performed at many world-renowned festivals.

Morrin, now based in Boston and working to help start a music program for children with traumatic backgrounds in Greece, recently discussed his upcoming San Diego performances and his other projects since graduating from Canyon Crest Academy in 2011.

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What can you share about this TEDX event that you will be performing in?

This is a very special event because I’m putting together a group of close friends of mine. They’re all very different people but are incredible musicians. We’re writing and playing music specifically for the themes revolving around this event. ... All the speakers are talking about some of the cutting edge research in the biotech industry. The theme is “Reviewing the Foundations of Life” for a very broad theme, but the idea is we wanted to connect a musical and artistic component to what that means for us. Basically, we’re going to have three, 10-minute separate pieces between two speakers each. We’re trying to show this evolution in the storyline of our interpretation to what this means and some of the concepts we’ve been grappling with through music.

What makes you excited for this opportunity?

I was able to put together this really special band of people who haven’t really played together. This whole ensemble has never really existed together, and I think it’s very special because everyone is bringing something very creative and unique within themselves to the table. ... We’ve collaborated and composed three pieces specifically for the event.

How were you selected for this performance? Do you have a background in science at all?

The main thing is that there’s a gorgeous grand piano on the stage. They felt they wanted to utilize that instrument. They contacted me because they know about my background. In my undergrad, I went to Harvard and Notre Dame Conservatory. So at NDC, I studied music but at Harvard, I was very interested in math and science. I ended up majoring in computer science, and I did a minor in microbiology. To me, something that has been very intricately tied to my music for a long time is the idea of connecting music to other things outside in the world. ... The common thread behind everything is this idea of collaboration and communication between different people.

You’re also performing at Dizzy’s on July 29. What can you tell us about that performance?

That will be a more extended concert that will feature this very special group of players from the TEDX event. We’ll play the three pieces from the TEDX performance, along with a few other things and open up the music and expand it for a whole entire concert.

What makes you excited to perform in San Diego again?

Whenever I come back to San Diego, I am always performing with groups but this is a very special event because of the group of musicians who have been longtime friends for a number of years. This is going to be music where the magic happens. It’s going to be a very special two nights. I hope people come to hear music that is unique and won’t ever exist again because everyone lives in different places. This is a global project.

What other projects are you working on?

Another project that I’ve been working on for about two and a half years now is a duo group called Gapi, with me on piano and my friend DoYeon Kim, who plays the gayageum, a traditional Korean string instrument. It’s been a huge challenge because she comes from traditional Korean music and I come from western jazz music.

This has been a collaboration based on cultural communication that has been very powerful. We did an album last summer, we toured in Korea and we were actually nominated for a national Korean music award, which is sort of the Grammys equivalent in Korea. ... This is really amazing music we’re creating, but also a philosophy toward global understanding that we’ve been trying to advocate for through this music. ... Last year, I also worked on another project called the Music Alliance Project. It’s an ongoing thing that takes two communities, classical and jazz, and tries to bring them closer together. Although there are a lot of people involved with both communities, there’s also a decent amount of barriers, especially within institutions. My project was a paradoxical process towards a collaboration with these different musicians. Using tools I’ve learned over time, I was able to do lessons, clinics and workshops with these musicians for weeks and weeks before actually making music together. Finally, we came together and made some sort of concert recording come to life.