The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Professor ‘Moore’ than great voice

Barbara Hill Moore’s husband describes her as talented, dedicated and focused. Her students describe her as caring, loving and hard-working.

She doesn’t fit the diva stereotype, but Moore is a world-renowned opera singer.

“Sorry I’m late,” she said as she walked down the hall to her office. “I just left our national auditions, but I try not to be late for my appointments.”

Moore is the senior member of voice at SMU, where she has taught for 34 years.

Moore said she spends most of her time in her office in the Owens Fine Arts Center teaching and reflecting. But growing up, she never imagined she’d be where she is today.

Moore was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., where she started singing at an early age. However, her first passion was teaching.

“My desire in life has always been to be an effective motivator in other people’s lives,” Moore said. “The rest is just ice cream and dessert.”

After receiving her B.S. in music education from Lincoln University in Missouri and her M.S. in music education from the University of Illinois, she became a voice teacher.

Professional singing came later.

People heard about her singing through her students. Moore was known as someone who could recommend the best talent, many of whom were her students. Eventually, her students began recommending her when someone was seeking a soprano for a special role in an opera or oratorio.

Since the beginning of her career, she has traveled to France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland and has also traveled to South Africa, Japan, Korea, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Brazil.

She spent half of last December in Northern Germany singing with her ensemble, Spiritual Voices, which she started 15 years ago.

Moore’s six-person ensemble performs once a year in several countries. The trip was a little different this year.

Moore brought along one of her students, SMU voice major Audra Scott, to observe the ensemble in hopes of slowly transitioning Scott into the group.

“The trip was so exciting because I got to meet a lot of people in the city. Not many people who are my age get to do this,” said the 25-year-old Scott. “It was an honor.”

Back at SMU, Moore is a just as busy as when she is traveling. When she’s helping her students with performance rehearsals, her work days often don’t end until 11:30 p.m.

She just finished working with six of her students on a musical called “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which reproduces the atmosphere of a Harlem nightclub in the 1930s.

On Feb. 2, the troupe traveled to Amarillo to perform the musical at the Amarillo Opera House. The production premiered Tuesday.

In 1995, Moore founded the Bruce R. Foote Foundation. Its mission is to encourage and support students with a background which has been historically underrepresented in the advanced pursuit of classical vocal study.

It offers significant financial assistance throughout the year to college singers of any gender or race for excellence in singing.

The foundation is named after mentor Bruce Foote, who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano and voice from Syracuse University.

Foote taught Moore in graduate school at the University of Illinois and afterward when she began to sing professionally.

In addition to the foundation, Moore also started a scholarship in Foote’s name for students who are in good academic standing. The Foote Scholar is chosen by the Foote Advisory Board on the basis of talent, career potential, scholarship and need.

The recipient is announced at the annual Foote Scholarship Benefit and receives at least $1,000 each academic year. The award is given in two equal amounts at the beginning of each semester of enrollment with evidence of the singer’s academic standing.

Because of Moore’s foundation and scholarship fund, even students from South Africa are able to come to SMU to study voice.

“It’s a blessing to know that some of these students are here because of my foundation,” Moore said. “I’m glad that SMU accepted all of them because they are unique and they have all prospered in so many ways.”

The first two African voice students came to SMU in 2000. One is a tenor and the other a bass. They had never been out of South Africa or even seen much outside their home.

Moore said that they were culturally shocked, but learned to adapt. They both received their master’s degrees. Now one is the first black professor in the College of Music at the University of Cape Town and the other is a professor in Johannesburg.

“It’s just overwhelming to work with students from [different] countries who are so talented and highly motivated,” Moore said.

Voice major Phandulwazi Maseti arrived from South Africa in fall 2004.

“It was very different,” he said. “I had to speak another language that was different from what I spoke at home.”

Maseti goes home every summer, but it’s different for him because summer here is winter there. He says that he is used to being here, but he still misses home no matter how often he’s able to return.

Senior voice major John Holiday is another one of Moore’s students. He says that it’s hard to measure the countless ways that she has been an inspiration in his life.

“She was the first person at SMU to really believe in me, so I believed in myself,” Holiday said. “With every award and successful show, there is a story behind it. She teaches us, her students, to never gives up, no matter what may come our way.”

Even though Moore travels extensively, she makes time for her love: her husband of 41 years, LeAndrew Moore, who retired Feb. 1 from General Electric after an engineering career of 37 years.

“I have a lot of things to smile about,” she said. “My husband is my bud, my best friend.”

Her students think of her husband as a father figure because he comes to every recital. For some, this is better than they can say for their own parents.

Mr. Moore is proud of his wife.

“She continues to bless the lives of her students. It doesn’t matter what walks of life they come from or what color they are, she’s always there to help,” he said.

This March, Moore will travel with her husband to South Africa to present master classes at the University of Cape Town, the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the University of South Africa in Pretoria and Pretoria Technikon.

Moore hopes to establish an SMU branch in South Africa where students can learn about business in the arts, choral music, opera direction and the history of South Africa.

Moore and her husband have one child. Leah M. Moore, 29, lives in Boston with her husband Gary. She is an attorney with the Boston firm of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, where she practices labor, employment, law and litigation.

Moore has many events planned for the year. On Feb. 25, she presented her students in a concert featuring arias from Mendelssohn’s Elijah to sing with the Hamilton Park Baptist Church Men’s Chorus for the 12th consecutive year.

“I never really get to rest, but I love my job,” Moore said. “That’s the best part about it.”

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