MAestro Grant Cooper
Born in New Zealand as the son of a professional opera singer, Cooper sang and acted in his first opera at age four and studied piano and music theory prior to college.
After completing his degree in pure mathematics at the University of Auckland, he traveled to the United States for further studies in music. His initial opportunities as a conductor grew from his colleagues’ invitations to lead them in larger chamber ensemble performances. His many guest conducting engagements have included the Houston Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, The Florida Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, and Syracuse Opera, among many others. Recently, he made successful debut appearances with the Kennedy Center Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and travelled to Malaysia for a debut with the Malaysian Philharmonic.
Cooper served as artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra from 2001-17. During this time, he conduced the orchestra in almost 800 public performances. Cooper also serves as artistic director of the annual Bach and Beyond festival in Fredonia, New York and as a resident conductor at the Eastern Music Festival.
A commissioned composer, Cooper’s concert works include A Song of Longing, Though…, for soprano and orchestra, which has received numerous performances in recent seasons, and his ballet, On the Appalachian Trail, which was premiered in 2010 at Chautauqua and was performed to a brand-new choreography in New Mexico. He composed a chamber work on commission from the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, which was premiered there in May 2012. Cooper is especially passionate about creating works designed to introduce young audiences to the orchestra and has composed a substantial body of works for this purpose.
Cooper has recorded for Delos International, Atoll, Ode, Mark, and Kiwi Pacific recordings, and has the unusual distinction of having CD recordings of himself as conductor, performer, and composer, all currently available in the catalog.
Cooper’s service to the state of West Virginia has been honored in many ways, among them his receiving a Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts in Spring 2012. Fairmont State University conferred on Mr. Cooper the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, at its May 2017 commencement ceremonies.
Critical Acclaim for Maestro Cooper and the WVSO
“The conductor Grant Cooper’s interpretation was an eye-opener in its formal solidity, graceful lines
and sparkling textures. The orchestra sounded radiant…
“… Cooper kept the complex overlapping and crossing rhythms under tight control without robbing them of vivacity. The orchestra responded like a vast color wheel, spinning off hues sparkling or drenching.
String textures were notably rich and transparent while winds and brass played with virtuosic flair.”
Charleston Gazette January 2009
“The conductor Grant Cooper led the scrupulously polished accompaniment with elan. The myriad little solo moments for winds and strings shone and the horns, trumpets, and timpani sounded robust. This was one of the finest performances I have heard in 18 seasons as a music critic.”
Charleston Gazette April 2008
“Cooper’s orchestra attained that luxurious amber varnish tone of a fine Central European orchestra.”
Charleston Daily Mail February 2003
“All sections of the orchestra soared like eagles under the confident hand of Cooper.”
Charleston Daily Mail April 2002
“The results were magical, a new high for the orchestra’s quality of performance.”
Charleston Gazette April 2002
“New conductor Grant Cooper has been added to this established orchestra and
together they make music better than I ever dared imagine.”
Charleston Daily Mail September 2001
“…first-rate music making with plenty of poetry and power… the orchestra sounded polished and confident.”
Charleston Gazette September 2001