Robert (Bob) Moody is the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Memphis Symphony, and we recently sat down with him to learn more about his career and what brought him to Memphis.
Moody got involved with the Memphis Symphony during his first concert, the Elvis Presley birthday concert, in 2005. Moody put on a memorable performance, riding out onto the stage on a limited edition Elvis Presley Harley Davidson. This past November he helped organize a flash mob at one of the Krogers in town. Amazingly, the video of that flash mob now has over 1 million views!
Moody plans to increase the Memphis Symphony’s partnerships with other artistic groups, like the Memphis Ballet, Playhouse on the Square and local theatre troupes. They are also reaching out to young professional organizations, LGBT leaders, as well as leaders in the African-American and Hispanic communities. Learn more in our Q&A below.
C901– How do you plan to advance the Memphis Symphony Orchestra?
Moody– I should make it clear that planning for a major orchestra is a team effort. There is no one single dictator, and that is a very good thing. We, as an MSO family, will be working to increase both the number and the type of concerts we offer the Mid-South. We are also working to increase the way we interact with all demographics of our community. We want to be relevant to all people, from age 4 to 104! As we announce each upcoming season, people will see the details of our expanding offerings.
C901– Where are your favorite places to eat in Memphis?
Moody– I am touring all the barbecue places. Currently, Germantown Commissary is my favorite. But I have not come across a bad one yet. I also love Acre and the Majestic Grill downtown.
C901– As a musician, what makes you love Memphis?
Moody– How could one not love Memphis? This is one of the “Mecca” cities on the planet for musicians. Some of the most important musical styles were invented and cradled right here. I also love the grittiness, and the pride people have.
C901– What are some goals you hope to help drive as conductor for the Memphis Symphony this year?
Moody– We are working very hard at MSO to become the most relevant 21st-century orchestra that we can be. We want our concerts and community experiences to celebrate music at its highest level, but also let it be known that we love “out of the box” experiences. We are not an ivory tower organization, but rather part of the fabric of Memphis. Some of our concerts include performances by one of America’s most famous living composers, who also happens to moonlight as a DJ. I would also make sure people know about our salute to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and on and on.
C901– Was Memphis your first choice?
Moody– I think we chose each other. I first guest conducted the Memphis Symphony back in 2005. I have been back to guest conduct many times over the past decade, and the chemistry just seems to work. About a year ago, one of our orchestra musicians posted about me on Facebook: “He gets us,” she wrote. I was so proud when I read that!
C901– Are there are any Memphis residents you would like to collaborate with?
Moody– I’m brand-new, so most of our collaborations are planned for the future. But I’m so glad to have spent much time with my new partner at the University of Memphis school of music, John Chiego. I am also scheming with the great Leo Davis. Concerts next year will showcase collaboration with Playhouse on the Square as well as local African dance troupes.
C901– Who is your favorite Grizz player?
Moody– “The Conductor” Mike Conley, of course!
C901– How do you plan to make Memphis a better place during your residency?
Moody– I am just one person. One person only has so much ability to influence a community, a nation, the world. Having said that, I will do all I can. I will meet as many people as I can. Get as much advice as I can. And try to spread the good word about the power of live orchestra music as much as I can. We have a group of small, but incredibly dedicated individuals are working like crazy for the Memphis Symphony right now, to make our world a more musical and better place. You can never underestimate the power of such a dedicated group of individuals. Here’s to great things ahead!