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Composer Ted Moore, on finding one’s people

Ted Moore

Ted Moore. Photo by Brian Fancher

In graduate school, composer Ted Moore received what turned out to be a wise piece of career advice: “You’ve got to find your people,” a professor said, clarifying that one might meet those folks in unexpected places. Moore, an Associate Research Scholar here at the School of Music and a Lecturer at the Peabody Institute, said that professor’s advice wasn’t a guiding light at the time. It became “more of a realization later.” 

Moore earned his bachelor-of-arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and his master-of-arts degree from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. After graduating from Truman, Moore relocated to Minnesota, where he found clerical work through the American Composers Forum, in St. Paul, and tried “to go to all the shows,” be they orchestra, opera, chamber music, jazz, or other performances. It was in theater and noise-music circles that he found his crowd.

The theater scene in the Twin Cities, Moore said, is a “really exciting artistic community.” Over the course of six years, he contributed sound designs to some 15 productions at an upstart theater company. It was, Moore said, “a big part of my time in Minnesota.” He also made lasting connections with colleagues at the Walden School, a summer music program where he taught in Dublin, New Hampshire, after grad school. His colleagues at Walden, who came from a broad range of environments and creative experiences, had their fingers on the pulse of what was happening in the contemporary composition scene. “I realized quickly that I could learn a lot from those people,” he said.

Moore, who later earned his Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago and has since held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Huddersfield in the UK, given workshops and lectures at Stanford, NYU, and the universities of Pennsylvania and Indiana, and presented original compositions and live electronic improvisations around the world, said academia tends to influence much of what one’s route forward looks like in terms of community. “We centralize that path,” he said. Doing so, though, “really narrows the modes of success we set up for ourselves.” In finding his people, Moore has found his career. “My whole career is about people,” he said. “I always prioritize the people.”

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We’ve started to ask our faculty for bits of career advice to share with students. This is the first in what will be an ongoing conversation.