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Journey through Music; Kathleen Moyer, Ph.D. ’57

From Egypt to Israel, Russia to Hong Kong,
Jordan to Alaska, Moyer’s voice has taken
her all over the world. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Moyer

There was no piano. No risers, no electronic instruments, no electricity at all. All Kathleen Moyer ’57 and Philadelphia’s Singing City Choir had was a pile of hay bales (infested with large black ants) to stand on and the beauty of the twilight to guide them.

But they stood tall and proud on the hay bales in the middle of the Neve Shalom, a kibbutz in Israel where Israeli Jews, Arabs and Christians made their home in a shared community. Moyer and her group sang classical songs, American folk music, show tunes and spirituals with an intensity she had never felt before. The goal: to raise money for the poor community. It was a night she will never forget.

From Egypt to Israel, Russia to Hong Kong, Jordan to Alaska, Moyer’s voice has taken her all over the world. From a child singing in her church choir to 50 years as a performer with community choirs, symphony choruses and professional-level volunteer choirs, such as Singing City and Mendelssohn Club in Philadelphia, life has been quite the adventure.

Even before birth she was surrounded by music. Her mother was a musician who sang, taught private piano and voice lessons, and played the organ for the church. “I can’t imagine not having a song to sing or a keyboard under my fingers,” says Moyer.

But, while music has been her passion, and often times a full time career, Moyer also worked for 34 years as a sociology professor, most recently at Holy Family University in Pennsylvania, where she taught and served as an administrator for 25 years until her retirement in 2004. Moyer also served as a teacher and administrator of an academic program at the Philadelphia
Police Academy, and she taught part-time at institutions such as Penn State Delaware County College; Rosemont College; and Delaware County Community College.

When her careers conflicted, Moyer says, “I usually chose the music activity.” Juggling careers as a sociologist and as a singer/musician was sometimes challenging. Lack of sleep was a constant factor. Often she would stay up until 3 a.m. to read her students’ papers. Despite the challenges, Moyer says she enjoyed connecting her two passions and seeing where the disciplines overlapped.

“Sociology is all about perspective, how you see it, and getting rid of your own biases,” Moyer says. Being a member of the Singing City choir gave her the opportunity to meet and engage in experiences with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Her audiences have varied from prisoners in a state prison, disabled adults in a specialized hospital, elementary school children, residents of a kibbutz in Israel, members of the Jordanian royal family in Amman, Jordan, to members of the Elite Pennsylvania Society at their annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

Moyer continues to play regularly at Christ Lutheran Church in Upper Darby, Pa., and on occasion substitutes for other organists in Delaware County and Pennsylvania. Why is music so important to Moyer? Touching the lives of others through music and seeing the enthusiastic reactions on audiences faces bring her great joy, she says, and give her the encouragement to continue on her musical journey.

“The most tragic thing would be if I could no longer make music.”

– Tiffany M. Clayton ’08

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