Zach Moore

Zach Moore

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin State University music alumnus Zach Moore continues to earn accolades as a musician and composer, having recently had his work “Always Keep This Close” selected as an All-State Choir piece for the 2025 Texas Music Educators Association All-State Choir process. It’s just one of a series of Moore’s compositional accomplishments influenced by chance and choice, followed by an eventual decision to chase a dream.

Third place winner of both the Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest and The American Prize, Moore is a composer, conductor and speaker whose works have gained notable attention receiving performances at prestigious locations including Carnegie Hall, the Taipei National Concert Hall and at the Franklin D. Roosevelt 75th Anniversary Concert. 

Moore graduated from SFA with a master’s degree in music composition in spring 2023, having studied two years with Dr. Stephen Lias. Prior, he had earned an undergraduate degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and then taught high school choir for a number of years before “taking a leap of faith” and pursuing a degree in composition. He recently took his dream a step further, taking a job as an editor with Hal Leonard, the world’s largest sheet music publisher, where he oversees the editing, engraving, creation of demo recordings, copyright, printing, and online marketing for new works of music.

Moore describes the most intriguing part of "Always Keep This Close" and its success has been watching its journey over the last 10 years and thinking about where it began and the places it has been.

“I wrote this piece while completing my undergraduate degree at UW - Eau Claire, and like most undergraduate experiences, I lived in old student housing,” he said. “Life wasn't glamorous, and I completed most of my composing while sitting on our living room couch, which was well past its life expectancy. I now find it amazing that a piece that has been performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Turtle Creel Chorale, and will soon be performed by a TMEA All-State Choir, was once created while sitting on an old hand-me-down couch, in my PJs.

“The journey is what makes this performance so special to me,” he added. “It validates what I have always believed to be true – that greatness is anywhere someone is trying to find it. It doesn't matter if a piece was written in a state-of-the-art studio or an old rental house, if you are good at what you do, the world will make room for you. I am honored to have uncovered a piece such as this in my lifetime, and I have my friends, family, mentors and God to thank for that.”

Although Moore enjoyed teaching, he knew deep-down it was an excuse keeping him from pursuing his dream of composing. Constantly involved with extracurricular activities that go along with teaching music, composing began to “take a backseat” in his life.

“I began to wonder what opportunities I was missing as a result of putting off my composition business,” he said. “I also wondered if I would be able to live with that choice at the end of my life.”

His original plan was to continue to teach while he completed an online degree. SFA was one of the only schools to offer an online master’s in composition that wasn't specific to film scoring or commercial music. In addition, after listening to Lias’ compositions, he felt inspired and excited by the prospect of studying with the SFA composition professor. Also, issues associated with teaching during a pandemic caused him to question his career direction.

“That being said, I chose to leave my job in 2021 and move across the country with my wife to pursue my Masters in Music Composition at SFA,” Moore said. “My wife was supportive of this choice, and I was awarded an assistantship as part of my studies. Looking back, had things not panned out the way they did from the pandemic, I don't know if I would have ever truly taken a dive into my dream of composing. Had I stayed to teach and completed an online degree, perhaps I would have never truly left teaching. In many ways, it feels like God was forcing me in the direction I was always meant to go.”

Moore looked forward to his SFA experience with high expectations, but he said he never would have guessed that it would be as rich as it was.

“I had the chance to attend the NAMM convention in California, create a documentary, perform at TMEA, write a number of film scores, work in a recording studio, teach undergraduate courses, perform with the SFA A Cappella Choir, attend contemporary music concerts, and much more,” he said. “I am so grateful for the friends I made and the mentorship I received from Dr. Stephen Lias, James Adams and Dr. Michael Murphy.”

“We were delighted that Zach chose to come to SFA for his graduate work, and he was certainly an excellent fit for our program,” Lias said. “It was clear right away that Zach’s personal drive, unique artistic vision and entrepreneurial spirit would lead him to great things, and we are so proud to see his career continuing to expand in these impressive ways.”

In his new job, Moore is constantly communicating, creating and networking with a variety of musicians in the choral industry.

“Another thing I appreciate about my new position is that they encourage and celebrate my personal compositional career,” he said. “I have been an avid composer of choral music for the last 15, years and it feels good to be at a place that recognizes my compositional passion and encourages me to attend industry events to represent both Hal Leonard and myself. They see me as an asset to their company, but they also want to help catapult my compositional career.”

Moore is happy with where he is in life, and he encourages anyone who has a passion to pursue whatever it is that they love, “even if it feels impossible.”

“If you work at what you love, and are good at what you do, the world will make room for you. I feel fortunate to have found a spot that feels as if it was carved out just for me.”