Meet cellist and author Edward Kelsey Moore

October 17, 2014
Author Edward Kelsey Moore
Edward Kelsey Moore, author of 'The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat'.
Michael Lionstar

Edward Kelsey Moore didn't necessarily expect to be an author. By the same token, he didn't really expect to be a professional cellist, either. "A black kid from the suburbs of Indianapolis in the late '60s and '70s didn't just fall into classical music," he says. "I came up in sort of this golden time where it made sense to people to have classical music education in schools, and I found myself falling in love with classical music at that point in my life."

Moore embraced the music and continued his studies at Indiana University and at State University of New York at Stony Brook, where his teachers included renowned cellists János Starker and Bernard Greenhouse, respectively. Today, Moore plays with the Chicago Sinfonietta and with the Chicago Philharmonic — which means performances with the Chicago Opera Theater and with the Joffrey Ballet.

Hard-working and creative, Moore also was invigorated by writing, a pursuit that, two decades into his cellist career, he could ignore no longer. His writing efforts resulted in the novel The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat. Set in the fictitious Midwestern town of Plainview, Ind., the book follows the lives of lifelong friends Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. The Supremes has earned multiple accolades, including being a New York Times bestseller. The book's universal appeal is evidenced in its translation into at least 13 languages, including, most recently, Hungarian. "I'm a big Kodály and Bartók fan," Moore says, "so the idea that it's in that language is very, very exciting."

supremes at earls all you can eat paperback
'The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat' paperback edition.
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The success of the book has taken Moore on book tours across North America and Europe. Whereas most touring authors will read from their books and answer questions, Moore's book events often include cello performance. The combination of the two disciplines has actually deepened Moore's relationship to his chosen instrument. "If I have to play a solo cello piece, I get quite nervous — but I'm not a nervous public speaker," he laughs. "Ultimately, I realized that if I talk for long enough before I play, I'm just fine! And I've come to enjoy having the cello be part of the book events."

Now the intersection of music and writing has created another opportunity for Moore. Over the coming months, Moore will write a series of exclusive essays for the Classical MPR website. "As a writer, I've written a lot about the experience of having written my first book, and I've written a lot about what it means to me to be a writer at a certain age, to become a writer at a relatively late age," he says. "But I've written very little about music, and I'm looking very forward to writing about music as I experience it and what it has been in my life.

"I came to classical music through an odd kind of path," Moore continues, "and I came to writing through kind of an odd path. I'm interested in writing about that. I think it will be fun."

Edward Kelsey Moore's first essay for Classical MPR will publish on Tuesday, Oct. 21; look for it on this site. Moore continues to rehearse and to perform with the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Philharmonic; he is also writing the sequel to his first novel.