Jennifer is the musical director and pianist for The Art of Living. Here, we asked her a few questions about musicals, the show, and what, exactly, the pianist does.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working on a musical?
A: I love the community that comes together to animate a story through acting, music, dance, costumes, props and scenery. There are so many components to piece together for a show to be effective; having a great team come together to manage and orchestrate all of the moving parts to create a singular event always impresses me. A kind of family environment is created through these projects — we grow together, we struggle together, we celebrate together and we give to the community together. There’s nothing like it!
Q: What is your favorite thing about community theater?
A: I really appreciate the passion and dedication to the arts that is exhibited by people who participate in community theater. They may have full time jobs, full schedules to manage with their families, or students who are in school full time who wish to be a part of the ‘tribe’ of artists who value self expression and the exploration of what it means to be a human being in relationship with others. There is a willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable, to play and explore in this community that you rarely find elsewhere.
Q: What got you started working in theater?
A: I’ve always been close to the theater. My mother was the first pianist at the Depot Theater in Westport, NY, so we’d often have to hang around the theater while she rehearsed with the actors. I experienced my first sense of “this-is-what-I-need-to-do-with-my-life” as an eight year old in that theater. I heard Jenny Jones step out on stage and sing “My Man’s Gone Now” and knew that I always wanted to be near people who had the courage to sing with such powerful sound and emotion. As a teenager, I fell in love with Mozart and immersed myself in the world of classical music. I continued to volunteer at the Depot with my piano teacher during my high school summers, but my studies were eventually focused on classical piano and art song/opera genres, which come much more naturally to me than the extroverted world of musical theater.
It wasn’t until 2007 that I really became actively involved in community theater. I was asked by Derrick Hopkins to conduct the Essex Theater Company’s production of Wizard of Oz, and we’ve been collaborating ever since. I’ve served as conductor, pianist, and music director for ETC and a number of regional school theater programs for ten years without pause. It has been a great joy to be a part of this community and I’m looking forward to years of theater projects ahead!
Q: What’s your favorite show?
A: Well, we just returned from a weekend in NYC where I actually saw my first Broadway productions. Despite studying and living in the city for years, I was so immersed in the classical music world that I really didn’t feel so compelled to head down the street to the theater district. However, I had the opportunity to see Miss Saigon, Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton this weekend along with two days of student workshops with a variety of Broadway professionals. I was blown away by the community, by the work ethic, by the generosity and by the 100% commitment to always producing the best work possible at every possible opportunity. So, the short answer is this: Hamilton is my favorite show to watch, listen to and study. As a performer/music director, my favorite show to work on was Next to Normal at ETC this past summer.
Q: How did you get involved with The Art of Living?
A: I had an invitation from Dan Gallagher to participate years ago when he was putting this together at Clinton Community College and I just could not fit it in, but now that he has a team together and a composer to create an original score, it is much easier for me to step in as pianist and conductor. I love being able to support these community projects whenever possible and the spirit of generosity and gratitude within this team is not to be passed by!
Q: What does your role of Pianist consist of?
A: Well, this could mean many things. Rarely does it mean that I simply learn to play the show, arrive at my instrument and play with the pit. That’s like a week at the spa! I just finished a run at the Peru High School and had the chance to ‘just’ play piano. There is nothing so satisfying as animating the emotional landscape of the story from the instrument or orchestra. Usually though, I also teach the singers their music, lead the pit orchestra and conduct the show from the piano. I love this too, knowing that the unique challenges of expression within each show allow me to grow as an artist in service of a wider community — our ‘tribe’!
Jennifer Moore holds degrees in both piano performance (Purchase College, SUNY) and music education (Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam) and currently teaches PreK-12 music for the Willsboro Central School District in NY. She was the first recipient, along with Derrick Hopkins, of the Section 1 National Heart of the Arts Award for the North Eastern US for their work in developing a highly active and engaging school music and dramatic arts program in their community. Concert performances have brought Jennifer and her students to a host of festivals including the Ithaca College High School Gospel Choir Festival, All-County, Area All-State, NYSSMA Solo Festival and special events like the Daisy Jopling Adirondack String Pulse Experience at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, and most recently, Carnegie Hall. Members of the Willsboro High School Chorus will be presenting the opening music for the CFES National Convention in Burlington, VT this fall. Apart from school, her own performances have taken her to Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Chicago Cultural Center, UNESCO (Paris), the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Essex Community Concert Series, and a New Year’s Gala for the Middlebury Town Hall Theater with Broadway and London’s West End leading lady, Alisa Endsley, and many regional venues in the Adirondacks. While living in Chicago, Jennifer worked as an accompanist for the Lyric Opera’s Young Artist program and at Northwestern University as pianist and assistant for William Warfield’s voice studio. Jennifer has served as music director/pianist/conductor for school and community theater productions for many years. Shows include Wizard of OZ, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, Into the Woods, Company, Last Five Years, Sweet Charity, Rent, West Side Story, Moby Dick, All Shook Up, My Fair Lady, Damn Yankees, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Mame (with George and Leslie Hearn), Company, Oliver and Next to Normal. She has served on the board of directors for the Essex Community Concert Series, the Piano By Nature Concert Series in Elizabethtown and the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. Jennifer is also the founder and director of the Adirondack Community Children’s Chorus in collaboration with Dr. Rose Chancler and Alisa Endsley. She has been the choral director and pianist for St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex for many years, often conducts school festival choral ensembles both in NY and VT, and has been a presenter for the NYSSMA Summer Conference and most recently a co-presenter at the NYSSMA Winter Conference. Jennifer served as accompanist for the Area All-State Women’s Chorus this fall in Chazy and will be performing a number of recital programs in collaboration with regional artists throughout the season. Jennifer is a member of NYSSMA, NAfME, ACDA, TI:ME and the Essex County Music Teacher’s Association.