Originally printed in the New Pittsburgh Courier
By Renee P. Aldrich
Extraordinary is a good word to describe the character, skills and talents of Devin Jonathan Moore, a senior at Chartiers Valley High School.
At 17, he could easily be identified as a modern day “polymath”—that is, a person of great learning in several fields of study. Some notable past polymaths would be Michelangelo, the noted painter, architect, inventor and student of all things scientific, and Paul Robeson, the gifted bass singer and actor. An academic scholar and valedictorian at Rutgers University, Robeson went to school on a football scholarship and ended up as an All-American.
Moore is the lead in the viola section of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, under the instruction of Marylene Gingras-Roy, where he has been performing for the last three years. The multi-talented teen was exposed to classical music by his late maternal grandfather.
Moore explains that, when he was a child, he often visited his grandfather, who lived in downtown Pittsburgh near Heinz Hall. It was during these visits that he’d get an earful of the classics.
“My grandfather was a lover of classical music,” Moore says. “We’d go for rides and he kept the radio tuned to the classical channel. Because of his love of the music, I grew fond of it as well.”
He was only in third grade when he began studying violin at school. By the time Moore was in fourth grade, the music instructor saw that he was already more advanced than the class. The instructor invited Dr. Stephen Benham, associate professor of music education at the Mary Pappert School of Music, Duquesne University, to come and listen to him.
Benham was amazed. He said Moore had the talent that can “take him very far as a violinist.”
Over the years, Moore became more and more involved with music.
“I received many opportunities at my school musically, including musical theater and dance showcases,” he says. “I stayed in art classes, choir and orchestra. I did all this until I refined what it was I wanted to focus on. I now plan to pursue a career in viola performance.”
Moore’s mother, Pamela Bucci, a single mom who works as a respiratory therapist at Allegheny General Hospital, says Moore soared in both music and academics at an early age.
“When he first came home with the violin, we would notice that he could hum any tune, find it on the violin and play it—and play it well,” she says. “We then discovered that he could sing and actually had perfect pitch.”
For his performance as the lead, Jean Valjean, in his school’s production of “Les Misérables,” Moore won a 2016 Gene Kelly Award for “best actor.” He’d go on to travel to New York to compete in the National High School Music Awards, where he was one of three runners-up for the Jimmy Award and received a scholarship for that effort.
Craig Johnson, executive director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, spoke of Moore this way: “I’ve been in this business just about 17 years and I’ve seen many students and many talented ones. Devin is exemplary. His talents are many and he excels in all of them. Additionally, he has outstanding leadership skills and an incredible level of maturity, both of which make him a significant role model. Not every talented student has his leadership skills.
Moore is an academic standout as well. He has been in the gifted program since he was six years of age, currently is in AP English and math, and is taking two physics classes and calculus at the same time.
While his activities are intense around his music and scholarship, he manages to separate himself and do things not connected to music or school.
“The musical theater folks at school and the youth symphony are like family, and at least three times a month, they devote themselves to activities like bowling, movies and dinners out just for fun,” says his mother. “What I am most proud of Devin for–the main compliment I get about him–is that he is such a humble kid, grounded and kind. His 9-year-old sister, Tatum, looks up to him as she is building her own track record of excellence in dance and scholarship.”
Moore is driven by his clear understanding of his gifts.
“Since God has given me many gifts, I see it as my duty as his child to foster my talents, develop my skills and share my gifts with the world.”
He is in the midst of auditions for three of the top musical schools in the country—Julliard, Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory, with plans to pursue a five-year program combining engineering and music.