Music completely permeates the life of junior music major Nelson Moore, and he couldn’t be more involved within Plattsburgh State’s music department.
Moore enrolled at PSUC in the spring of 2016 after transferring from Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. After spending a year there, he decided to move closer to Plattsburgh, where he’s originally from.
Moore focuses and specializes in percussion instruments within the music department, alternating between part-time and full-time student status. Since the beginning, he’s participated in the college symphonic band, concert choir, gospel choir and Mambo Combo. Mambo Combo is one of the music department’s chamber ensembles that plays a variety of jazz, Latin and Cuban music, taught by director Herm Matlock.
“It’s music that deserves to be kept alive,” Moore said.
When it comes to percussion, Moore said he believed it was the most natural and ingrained part of someone’s being.
“[Percussion] is the instrumental area that has most to do with our internal pulse and rhythm,” Moore said.
Compared to past experiences, Moore spoke highly of PSUC’s music department.
“It’s a very tight-knit community of very talented people,” Moore said. “Students and faculty alike have their strong suits and specialities and quirks, but everybody is very supportive of each other and conscious of what makes everyone do their best work.”
One of Moore’s favorite performances at PSUC was the symphonic band’s most recent concert titled “Kooky Koncert” Tuesday where the ensemble performed an arrangement of strange and “kooky” pieces. Being in the percussion section, Moore was responsible for creating noises like duck calls, car honks and bird whistles for various pieces in the show.
His favorite piece to play, “Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion” by P.D.Q. Bach, required him to perform a “crasho grosso,” a section that begins with a long snare roll and ends with the percussionist crashing the cymbals by dropping them and other metallic instruments as loud as possible.
PSUC Music Professor and Symphonic Band Director Dan Gordon said he knew Moore would enjoy the Kooky Koncert. As a music student, Gordon described Moore as bright, engaging, musically curious and always willing to help out within the department.
“He’s always there to help out with equipment moves and make sure we have the right stuff over there and getting it cleaned up afterward and getting it in place before the concert,” Gordon said.
Moore also enjoys participating in classes and ensembles with Gordon.
“He’s a great guy to work with,” Moore said. “There’s never a dull moment.”
Gordon said Moore has taken full advantage of everything the music department has.
“It’s kind of like a musical smorgasbord that we offer here, and he helps himself,” Gordon said. “I’m very pleased when students do that.”
Outside of the music department, Moore said he enjoys listening to even more music but also watches films by directors like Wes Anderson or Stanley Kubrick. He’s inspired by other famous drummers like Ginger Baker and Stewart Copeland.
“I’m inspired by good music and good energies coming together to make [that] music,” Moore said.
One of Moore’s good friends, Vihan Wickramasinghe, met Moore in 2016 and played together in different ensembles. Wickramasinghe described Moore as a human encyclopedia of all things music.
“You could ask him the name of the most esoteric jazz group from the 1920s, and he would be able to state like the drummer, the bassist, the trumpet-man and all that,” Wickramasinghe said.
Wickramasinghe graduated from PSUC last year and is currently a faculty member in the college’s physics department. In addition to other music ensembles, he and Moore often play in their own jazz band, the Wickmoore Jazz Trio. Wickramasinghe, Moore and Moore’s brother, Eli Moore, play jazz piano, drums and bass in gigs around the North Country.
Wickramasinghe said Moore was one of the best jazz musicians he knows.
“He never stops striving to try to reach greater heights, and that’s one thing that makes him different than a lot of jazz drummers I know,” Wickramasinghe said. “He’s constantly learning, and I really appreciate that about him as a musician.”
Even though Moore doesn’t have any set goals, he hopes to someday travel, playing music with a small band.