Television anchor makes his
conducting debut

By Elizabeth Crean
Special to the Star-Bulletin

"JUST don't throw tomatoes." This is all news anchor Joe Moore asks of the Hawaii Theatre audience tomorrow night as he makes his conducting debut with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Conducting debut? Yes, Joe goes from talking head to moving arms as host of the HSO's "Mozart and Moore" series. At each concert, he will lead one short work from the podium.

Like a good diplomat, he's keeping hopes high and expectations low. "No one...will confuse me with Leonard Bernstein or Neville Mariner."

Initially Moore was asked just to emcee the series. He declined, because after six years hosting a Mozart show on Hawaii Public Radio, "I really felt that I'd exhausted...everything I had to share about Mozart. But I said what I would be interested in, if the symphony musicians have any desire to put up with this rookie, is to guest conduct a short Mozart composition at each of the concerts."

He's so modest about his efforts that for this story he declined to have a special picture taken rehearsing or even just sitting at the news desk with a bust of Mozart where Bob Hogue usually resides. "My a footnote to the real story of the orchestra playing great music."

Nonetheless, Moore is excited to give it a try. "What bigger fantasy for a Mozart fan?" he asked.

"I've had a couple people say, 'Oh, so you're just going to be up there kind of clowning around.' And I said, 'No, really, I'm taking it very seriously.' But at the same time, no one's going to mistake me for a genuine, experienced conductor. I just hope to share my love and enthusiasm for Mozart."

Compared to his day job, Moore has found conducting "a lot more difficult and technical than I'd ever appreciated."

"It's one thing to sit in your favorite chair at home...with your forefinger and conduct the piece," he said. The baton makes more demands at once than either the Lazy Boy or the anchor desk. "Setting the tempo without confusing the musicians, controlling the volume in the various sections, and cueing the various sections for their entrances-it's not easy, I found."

What makes Mozart so fun for Moore that he is willing to undertake such an effort? "It's his melodies. They're perfect; a wonderful combination of energy and elegance."

In addition, the composer opened up the world of classical music to Moore. "When I first stumbled upon Mozart in college, I had no musical training, no musical background. My folks never listened to classical music. I went to the concert by mistake thinking it was going to be...Frank Vallee and the Four Seasons.

"And then I was hooked."

This happy addiction led Moore eventually to make a pilgrimage to the composer's hometown, Salzburg, Austria. There he discovered the obscure piece he will conduct on Friday and Saturday, the "Overture to 'La Betulia Liberata' (1771)." It is "a fascinating, exciting, stormy d-minor overture," Moore enthused.

"I think it's going to blow a lot of people away, because it's just so different for Mozart, and then yet still wonderful," he continued. "To my knowledge, it's the first time this has ever been performed in Hawaii."

The rest of the program, guest conducted by flute soloist Ransom Wilson, features an array of pieces from Vivaldi to Beethoven. Mozart's last and most ambitious symphony, the "Jupiter," concludes the diverse slate of works. It doesn't look like any rotting produce will be necessary after all.

The facts

What: Mozart & Moore premiere featuring Joe Moore of KHON Fox 2 as host and special guest conductor
When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday
Where: Hawai'i Theatre Center
Cost: Series tickets $76 to $92; single tickets $28 to $40
Call: 538-8863

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