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L.A. Chamber Concertmaster Moves On

June 09, 1996|Daniel Cariaga

Since 1992, an 80-foot painting of longtime Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Ralph Morrison, holding his Guarnerius violin, has looked down on Harbor Freeway commuters from its nine-story vista on a 7th Street parking structure.

The portrait, part of a still-incomplete Kent Twitchell mural of the whole orchestra, is permanent, but as of last month, it became drastically out of date.

Morrison, who joined LACO in 1980 and became concertmaster in 1988--announced in May that he had decided to "pursue other projects," according to a press announcement.

Commenting on the departure, LACO Executive Director Bruce Thibodeau praised Morrison: "Ralph has a wonderful charisma and great energy--the orchestra always played more vibrantly when he was around. Now that he is leaving, we will definitely miss him."

Morrison was unavailable for comment.

While the chamber orchestra chooses whom to name to succeed Morrison, Clayton Haslop, who has occupied the first-violinist's chair this season, has been appointed acting concertmaster.

And what about the huge white-tie-and-tails image of Morrison, the first of the orchestra members to have been immortalized by Twitchell?

"This mural represents the chamber orchestra in the decade of the '90s, and there is no reason to change it," says Thibodeau. In fact, instead of changing it, the goal is to finish it. Completion has been held up, he says, by the destruction of Twitchell's studio in the Northridge earthquake and financial problems at LACO.

The additional dozen-or-so portraits needed to memorialize the entire orchestra, says Thibodeau, will go up "as soon as we raise the $90,000 to $100,000 necessary."

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