Longtime high school music teacher conducts final concert before retirement

ST. GEORGE — On a beautiful Tuesday evening, under a blue sky with a cool breeze, students – current and former – coworkers, family and friends of longtime high school music teacher, Terry Moore, gathered at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George for one last concert directed by the music maestro before he lays aside his baton and retires.

Members of the Snow Canyon High School jazz band play a final concert at the Vernon Worthen Park in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The concert, which was staged in the park’s gazebo, featured the Snow Canyon High School Jazz Band and the Snow Canyon High School Madrigals, two of the music groups that Moore has helmed throughout his 29-year career in the Washington County School District.

Billed as a “socially distant” concert – attendees sat in family groups spaced across the park lawn and musicians were spread apart in the gazebo – Moore said he was grateful they were able to make the event happen given all the concerts, competitions and performances his students missed as schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We practiced our social distancing this morning,” Moore said as he helped guide students to their proper places.

Snow Canyon High School principal Warren Brooks said that during Moore’s nearly three decades as an educator in the district, he taught French, was a school counselor, student council advisor and music teacher.

Since 2013, Moore singlehandedly led Snow Canyon High School’s music program teaching band, choir, orchestra, madrigals and jazz band, many of which he arrived at school at 6:30 a.m. to teach.

“He is amazing,” Brooks said of Moore. “When he retires this year, two people will have to be hired to take his place.”

Additionally, up until COVID-19, Moore kept his musicians busy doing concerts at many of the assisted living facilities in the community where they would perform familiar big band and jazz standards to adoring fans.

Snow Canyon High School music teacher Terry Moore directs his last concert before retirement at the Vernon Worthen Park, St. George, Utah, May 19, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

At the concert, Moore said they were sad to miss out on several of the concerts at the assisted living facilities as they had become a familiar and well-loved part of the entertainment for those communities.

The impact that Moore has had on students during his career was witnessed at the concert Tuesday as many former students came to support their teacher turned mentor and friend.

Alison Schulz, a former Snow Canyon High School Madrigal and student council member said that Moore has been a light in her life for over two decades.

“I don’t know that I would have made it through without him helping me along the way,” Schulz said. “I look back at him as my favorite teacher and such a good friend.”

Singer/songwriter Lyndy Butler said Moore gave her the freedom she needed to express herself through music.

Butler, who has released several music albums, is a music teacher and an award-winning songwriter, said she was deeply influenced by Moore.

“He changed my life,” Butler said. “He gave me a songwriter’s class when I was a senior in high school where I got to just go play on the piano, and I wrote the class graduating song and I have been addicted to songwriting ever since thanks to him.”

An emotional Butler added that Moore is her hero.

For Moore, who said that music has been a part of him forever, it is the combination of music and teaching that he loves so much.

“The kids and music together is what brings me life,” he said.

Under the direction of Terry Moore, the Snow Canyon High School Madrigals perform a final concert in the gazebo at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

At the concert, an often choked up Moore spoke of the many musical traditions he instilled in his students over the years.

He also reflected on the strange and abrupt ending of the school year.

“Even though it’s a beautiful day, it’s been a weird year, so we’d like to do a Christmas song,” Moore said addressing those in attendance.

The concert showcased the jazz band playing familiar big band and jazz songs as well as some famous Latin-influenced numbers such as “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Mambo Italiano.” The jazz band was followed by a set from the madrigal choir who sang a mix of songs that included “Route 66,” “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, and the Christmas song, “Angels From the Realms of Glory.”

For the final number of the concert, former students were invited to join the madrigal choir in singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, bringing the total of Christmas songs performed at the May performance to two.

Perhaps ending with Christmas music was a fitting choice for the well-loved teacher who said he isn’t exactly sure what he plans to do next but said it would include writing poetry and looking forward to something new.

As Moore puts down the baton and potentially takes up the pen, Brooks expressed how much he cares for and looks up to his staff member and friend.

“Terry Moore is an amazing man, I idolize him, I look up to him and I love him,” Brooks said.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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