Adagio, Maestro!


Music instructor Nollie Moore and the Jane Froman Singers boldly go where few choirs have gone before

Nollie Moore, music instructor and director of the Jane Froman Singers, has two speeds: fast and very fast. But he's shifting into a third gear as he and the Singers touch up their repertoire to prepare for an-almost once-in-lifetime trip to the Baroque cities of Austria.

Almost, because two years ago he led them in singing against the backdrop of the Great Wall of China.

At home ...

Here in Columbia, Mo., the Jane Froman Singers and Columbia Civic Orchestra will perform February 15 at 4 p.m. in the remodeled Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street. The Singers and orchestra will perform a program of classics including Handel's “Sing Unto God,” Gounod's “Petite Symphony, ” Haydn’s “Missa Brevis” and Mozart's “Symphony No.41 ‘Jupiter.’ ”

Moore will then be soloist in Vaughn Williams’ “Four Hymns for Tenor and Viola” March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 1112 East Broadway, due south of the Columbia College campus. The concert is a 40th anniversary celebration of the Esterhazy Quartet, one of the world's leading string quartets. The program will also feature Mendelssohn's “Octet in E-flat Major.”

... and abroad

Just one week later, Moore and the Singers with Freund and his orchestra will present such European stalwarts as Handel and Haydn with the all-American Williams in such venues as the Minoritenkirche in Vienna, the Franziskanerkirche in Graz and St. Andra Kirche in Salzburg. Austria was largely spared the devastating bombing Germany received and its eye-popping baroque palaces and churches are intact. Let's hope the acoustics match.

In their free time, the Singers and Orchestra will dig into wiener schnitzel, knödel (dumplings), tafelspitz (boiled beef with potatoes and horseradish) and the notoriously good apfelstrudel (apple pastry).

Moore, who was named director of the Jane Froman Singers in 1999 and instructor of music in 2001, previously led the Singers to China in 2007. There the Singers enjoyed the dubious pleasures of sea horse wine, toured Tiananmen Square, performed in Beijing and at the Great Wall. As the group began to sing on the Wall, Moore says the clouds descended and singers and audience were enveloped by swirling mist.

Moore earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has sung leading roles with the Missouri Chamber Orchestra and served as chorus master with the Missouri Symphony Society. Moore's teaching responsibilities include voice instruction, music theory and music history courses, and his reputation has attracted students from throughout the country.

Among these students are Leela and Ellie Grace, folksingers. “He has a very different, a very deep understanding of music,” says Ellie.

Says another former student: “Choir classes with Nollie were the highlight of my week! I learned a lot about singing and reading music and styles of music. I look forward to more semesters of having him as a teacher.”

His teaching style may be descended from the Singers' namesake, Jane Froman ‘26, a recording, TV and Hollywood star who grew up then retired in Columbia. Her career was seemingly finished when she was severely injured in a 1943 aircraft crash; both legs were nearly severed and she suffered multiple fractures. She underwent 39 operations but kept singing, acting and hosted her own TV show. Froman's life was the subject of the 1952 movie With a Song in My Heart, starring Susan Hayward (Froman sang; Hayward was easy on the eyes, not so much the ears). In honor of Froman's 100th birthday in 2007, the college held a gala Jane Froman Centennial Celebration at which a new DVD of With a Song in my Heart premiered.

Froman never slowed down. And it looks like Nollie Moore won't be going adagio any time soon, either.

See more on the Singers' tour of Austria.