Although their father was an amateur guitarist and composer, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales and his four brothers and one sister have made music the family business. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Morales and each of his siblings began their careers there. Now they have multiple connections with the music community in Philadelphia. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with several of the brothers.
Jesus Morales will be in the cello section, and Ricardo Morales will be soloist for Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Sunday November 20th on WRTI. Next month, the Rolando Morales-Matos Jazz Y Mambo Band will play at a celebration of a new facility at Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican cultural center, Taller Puertorriqueño.
MUSIC: Traditional, Rafael Hernandez, "Campanitas De Cristal"
Susan Lewis: Traditional Puerto Rican songs were just one type of music heard in the Morales household, and each child, in turn, picked an instrument to play. Ricardo chose clarinet — in part to avoid singing the songs expected of him.
Ricardo Morales: Typical Latin romantic kinds of things...and then I was 10 years old – my aunts are like — oh, isn’t he cute? I would be completely mortified. I had to get an instrument I could put in my mouth.
SL: By the time Jesus, the youngest chose [an instrument], Jose, Sonya, Jaime, and Rolando were playing piano, violin, trombone, and percussion.
Jesus Morales: And my first choice was actually percussion like my brother Rolando, but my father had had enough of percussion in the house, and my father said, how about cello like Pablo Casals?
MUSIC: Jesus playing with Venezuelan Symphony and Jaime conducting
SL: Jesus, a soloist who also plays with the Dali Quartet, says the combination of culture and training has given them a diverse musical vocabulary.
Jesus: Of course we all went to music conservatories to learn how to play the classical and standard repertoire. But also growing up — listening to the tropical and Latin music, which is incredibly varied, also gives us a different approach.
MUSIC: Dali Quartet
SL: The family plays together whenever they can. Jesus and Rolando (who has a band in New York and also conducts The Lion King on Broadway) have both subbed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, where Ricardo is principal clarinet. The orchestra is now also home to Ricardo’s wife, Amy, and Jesus’s wife Dara — both of whom play second violin.