The same pandemic that led many young students to halt or drop out of their music education also sparked Longmont Symphony Orchestra music director Elliot Moore to start a nonprofit to get kids of all backgrounds back into music and the arts.
Moore, 42, is launching a philanthropic nonprofit, Music & Moore Foundation, to create music that connects to the widest possible audience, including those from diverse backgrounds who are attracted to music but don’t have access to classical music education.
Moore said he began the idea for a foundation while on hiatus during the pandemic, which shut down many in-person music programs. That prompted many young budding musicians to shelve their instruments, in some cases for good, he said.
“I began thinking of all those young students who no longer had a music class and where they went without that in their lives,” Moore said. “That’s really where this whole thing began.”
Moore - who has led the Longmont Symphony for five years - said he doubts he would have formed an effort like the Music & Moore Foundation until much later in his life after achieving much success as a conductor and music director. The pandemic, he said, forced him to reassess his career goals.
Moore decided he wanted to make classical music approachable for all age groups and backgrounds.
“I found myself thinking ‘What do I want to do and want to achieve,’” Moore said. “I was no longer interested in conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I didn’t feel the pressing need to work with X.Y.Z, soloists. I thought instead of how I could bring the most joy to the greatest amount of people.”
“The foundation,” he said, “seemed like the perfect solution.”
It is dedicated to the creation of new music through commissioning; initiating world premiers; supporting music education through writing original children’s books; operating an instrument donation program to assist lower socio-economic music students; and filming education shows on classic music for streaming services, according to a news release.
Each commissioned work will be given a world premier performance. Planning is underway to present these ideas in New York and Los Angeles.
The foundation commissioned the American composer Tyler Harrison to write his Third Symphony, “The Garden of Tears. It is a personal response to overcoming mental illness, the news release states.
“‘The Garden of Tears’ will be paired as an answer to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 ‘Pathetique’, considered by many to be a suicide note in music. Like Tchaikovsky, I am both gay and bipolar. I understand the struggle, stigma, and isolation caused by mental illness, as well as the inner strength and willpower needed to overcome it,” said Harrison in the news release.
“I want to use this symphony as a way to give hope and purpose to those who are suffering. I can look back now and be thankful for what I went through. I want to spread the message that surviving mental illness is worth it, even when those suffering from it are unable to see it.”
“‘The Garden of Tears’ is the perfect metaphor for my life,” Harrison said. The garden must be tended to thrive, but the garden of my life is watered by tears of suffering and now of joy.”
Simultaneously to launching the foundation’s composer commissioning program, it is developing a children’s book series that supports music education, according to the news release.
The Chronicles of the Young Composers is a series of books that share the youthful adventures of some of the greatest composers. As part of MMF’s mission to cultivate a lifelong love of music, but also approachable, the book series will share the stories of diverse composers representing our society from the past and present, the news release states.
The stories will be based upon each composer’s formative musical and life experiences with the intention that the adventures of the young composers resonate with and inspire a love of music in children of all backgrounds, according to the news release.
Books will come with QR codes that link to musical excerpts that can be played on an iPad or mobile device.
The first book is titled, Chronicles of the Young Mozart: The Adventure Begins. Illustrations are created by Colorado artist Marty Petersen. The initial book launch for the series will occur in New York.
The Music & Moore Foundation will host a public launch, in-person, at The Times Collaborative in Longmont, on Thursday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m.
Moore said the event is open and free to the public. “I want people to come and enjoy some food and music and to ask questions about the foundation,” he said. “This is not a fundraiser. But it's time to get to know what we are doing.” Moore recently signed a three-year contract extension with the symphony.