Ellen Dressler Moryl served as the first director of the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs from 1978 through 1983. During that period of time, she designed and launched a number of the OCA’s on-going projects including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (which marked its 37th anniversary last Spring) and the City Gallery at the Dock Street Theatre. She was also a catalytic force in developing the Charleston Black Arts Festival (1979, 1981 and 1983) in cooperation with the Charleston chapter of the LINKS, Inc. and the Gibbes Museum of Art. In 1984, the Black Arts Festival evolved into the annual MOJA African-American and Caribbean Arts Festival, which celebrated its 33rd festival year in 2016.
From 1984 through 1992, she lived and worked in Portland, Oregon, serving as executive director of Artquake, Portland’s annual arts festival and also as director of communications at Oregon Public Broadcasting, a statewide network of public radio and public television stations. In 1992, Mrs. Moryl returned to Charleston to serve as development director for the arts for the City of Charleston and in 1993, she resumed directing the City of Charleston office of Cultural Affairs. In 2003, the OCA, under her direction, received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award in the government agency category.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Ellen M. Moryl received her undergraduate training in music at Portland State University with further study in early music performance at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Her performance credits include the Portland Youth Philharmonic, principal cellist with Portland Opera Orchestra, and the Portland (now Oregon) Symphony Orchestra. She was formerly assistant principal cellist with the Charleston Symphony. Mrs. Moryl currently performs with several chamber music ensembles in the Charleston area including the Ensemble of St. Clare at Mepkin Abbey, which she helped to organize in 2001.
Mrs. Moryl’s community service activities have included serving on the Board of Directors for the Trident Urban League, the Charleston Rotary Club (she served as program chair for three consecutive years) and the Charleston Advisory Board for SCETV. She has served on the boards of several local arts organizations including the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra and Advisor to the Taylor Festival Choir, among others. In addition, she was the founding president of the South Carolina Arts Alliance in 1981 and now
serves as Board Member Emeritus of that group. Mrs. Moryl coordinates instrumental music for congregation KKBE, is coordinator of the St. Stephens String Quartet and the Ensemble of St. Clare at Mepkin Abbey. She is also Artistic Director Emeritus of the Spotlight Chamber Music Concerts for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.