Charles Morrow ’62

Maksymilian Nosevich

For many people, background noise just fades away; for Charles Morrow ’62, it’s the star of the show. As the founder of MorrowSound, he creates soundscapes that use ambient tones to create a sense of atmosphere in locations from banks to museums to hospitals. Morrow’s dozens of installations include the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s 2017 narwhal exhibition, where he immersed audiences in the Arctic via the sounds of glacial movements, melting ice, whale calls and whipping winds. At Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Morrow put together an audio background for the hospital’s Magic Forest and Aviary play area, with whimsical birdsong, rustling leaves and animal noises.

Morrow’s long career has always celebrated sound. In his early post-College days he arranged music for bands and performed in concerts (his favorite instrument to play is the pocket trumpet), but he wanted more than what he saw as a staid concert hall life. In the early ’70s, he was hired by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to stage an event in Central Park for the summer solstice. The experience was a revelation: “When you’re in a concert hall, you

are basically working with a tabula rasa kind of quiet space, in which everything that’s being performed is intended to be heard, as opposed to moving into a location where the sound is part of what’s going on,” he says. “If you’re immersed in the space, you can react to people; you can move smoothly between different forms of interaction.”

Morrow’s summer solstice show was a success, and continued for more than a decade; he began experimenting even more with sound and space. In 1974, he received widespread publicity for his “concert for fish,” in which he and a friend set up underwater speakers and a microphone to broadcast marine sounds into Little Neck Bay. In the ’90s he developed the True3D speaker system, to surround audiences with sound, and he began creating the large-scale soundscapes MorrowSound is known for. Most recently, Morrow has launched a podcast, iMMERSE!, in which he interviews col- leagues working and innovating in the soundscape industry — a natural fit for someone whose entire life has been dedicated to the art of sound.

— Anne-Ryan Sirju JRN’09