The Australian Catholic University community is saddened by the death of ACU choirmaster Dr Ralph Morton.
Dr Ralph Morton, choirmaster of the ACU Choir in Brisbane and music director at St Stephen’s Cathedral, died on 20 February aged 67 after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since last July.
ACU Senior Music Lecturer Judy Fromyhr said, “there are times in life when the planets seem to align and something good happens as a consequence. That could be said to have happened when Dr Ralph Morton accepted the role of conductor of the ACU Choir in Brisbane in 1996.
“At the time Ralph was the Director of Music at Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane, so it seemed like an unusual choice for him to make,” she said.
“However, Ralph had a passion for community choirs, and even after he became Director of Music at the Cathedral of St Stephen, he continued to conduct the ACU Choir, completing 20 years of dedicated service in 2015.”
Dr Morton’s engagement at St Stephen’s Cathedral, and his wide ecumenical reach as the Chairperson of the Queensland Branch and President of RSCM Australia, provided outstanding musical opportunities for hundreds of ACU choristers within and outside the University.
Through Dr Morton, ACU choristers worked with world-renowned conductors, hosted choirs from all around the world, performed world premieres of new choral works, sang with professional orchestras, and were introduced to the beauty of hundreds of pieces of magnificent choral music.
Dr Ralph Morton was an outstanding musician. He was a world-class organist, a composer, a teacher and a sought-after choral director, but above all he was a man of great wisdom and compassion.
International Director of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Andrew Reid has paid tribute to Dr Morton.
“I am grateful to have known a man with no apparent ego and who served others, the Church, RSCM and his Lord so faithfully. Rarely has a person been so open to the good in so many different traditions within the Church,” he said.
He will be remembered by current and former choir members as a man of patience, funny stories and a deep commitment to everyone who sang with him.
Dr Morton is survived by his wife Cheryl.
His funeral was held at St John’s (Anglican) Cathedral on Wednesday 2 March and a memorial Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of St Stephen on Friday 4 March.