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He's paid to whistle while he works

A few words with David Morris, the world's whistling champion

Just over a year ago, David Morris became World Whistling Champion 2003 at the annual International Whistling Convention in Louisburg, N.C.

Since that triumph, intense interest from the media and the music world has encouraged this performer to give up his day job as a salesman.

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Today, he is a professional whistler. He continues to work as a brass-instrument tutor - having been long associated with the brass band culture in his part of northern England. He started whistling as a boy in conjunction with his other "instrument." He has played the cornet since he was 13.

"I can remember trying to whistle the pieces I was rehearsing with the band at the time," he says by phone. "That's how it started. It was a bit like extra practice."

Until two years ago, Mr. Morris was what he calls "a closet whistler." Then he suddenly discovered the appeal of his whistling prowess. He surprised his audience at the end of an after-dinner speech (at a dinner dance for the band of which he had been musical director) by whistling Monti's Czardas.

"It nearly brought the house down," he says.

He repeated the feat on several occasions and the response was similarly overwhelming.

At the end of 2002 he brought out his first CD, calling it "Whistling Down the Wind." A second CD is due this year.

Edward Dolbashian, music director and conductor of the Compton Heights Concert Band in St Louis, rates Morris highly.

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"David Morris is a brilliant virtuoso on his instrument," Mr. Dolbashian says, "and, in addition, his musicianship is outstanding. He can function in both serious and popular worlds. And he's a nice guy!"

Dolbashian got to know Morris when he was a much-applauded whistling soloist at the St. Louis Proms in the Park last July. Morris made a return visit for a Christmas concert. A further appearance will take place this summer. Meantime Morris was a guest soloist in November, whistling with the Prairie Brass Band, Chicago. (If you'd like to hear a sample of Morris's talent, go to: davidmorris-whistler.com).

Unlike most of the whistlers he competed with at the convention in North Carolina, Morris does not whistle alongside a piano, trumpet, violin, or guitar. His whistling is the solo "instrument" in his performances.