Grant Cooper, Artistic Director and Conductor
Grant Cooper, Artistic Director and Conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, was named to the position in March 2001, and officially began his duties as the 9th conductor in the WVSO’s history on July 1, 2001. From 1997-2007, Mr. Cooper served as Resident Conductor of the Syracuse Symphony, appearing to critical acclaim on all the major series. On July 3, 2013, Mr. Cooper gave his 600th performance with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. During the summer, Mr. Cooper is Artistic Director of the Bach and Beyond Festival in Fredonia, New York, and serves as resident conductor at the Eastern Music Festival.
In the calendar year 2013, Mr. Cooper traveled to New Zealand on four occasions to conduct the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in a national tour of a newly commissioned work by composer Gareth Farr for orchestra and theater ensemble, titled Sky Dancer. Also in 2013, Mr. Cooper made his debut conducting the Kennedy Center Opera and Ballet Orchestra.
In their March 2009 Pops concerts, the WVSO premiered Mr. Cooper’s original scores for two Charlie Chaplin films: The Immigrant and Easy Street. Mr. Cooper’s original concert work for soprano and orchestra entitled A Song of Longing, Though..., with poetry by Tom Beal, was premiered by the orchestra in April 2007 and was performed by the Chautauqua Symphony in 2010. Cooper was awarded the National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Commission following competitive adjudication as part of the 2010 American Residency program of the NSO. His new work, Octagons, was premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in May 2012 and will be included in this season’s concerts by the Montclaire String Quartet.
In the spring of 2012, Mr. Cooper was honored by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as the recipient of a Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts.
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR GRANT 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)
Andrew and Amy Vaughan Student Symphonic Fellowship
Three Young Musicians Selected as Fellows
Jacob Bumgarner, Pete Nichols, and Jonathan Shin have been selected as the Student Symphonic Fellows in the Andrew and Amy Vaughan Fellowship Program through the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra (WVSO). These students were selected following interviews and auditions on Saturday, December 7, in Charleston, WV.
Bumgarner, junior at South Charleston High School, studies piano and is active in competitions through the WVMTNA. Bumgarner plays piano for his church and local community events. He is also a member of the Black Eagle soccer team.
Nichols, junior and percussionist at Capital High School, plays in the Cougar marching, jazz and concert bands, and the percussion ensemble, as well as in the WV Youth Symphony.
Shin, violinist from Capital High School, is a sophomore who is active on several Cougar sports teams. He plays principal viola in the West Virginia Youth Symphony, and participates in musical festivals and competitions throughout WV.
Donald Forman and Haleigh Frail have been selected as a student interns in the program. Forman is a junior in the George Washington High School band where he plays clarinet. Additionally, he plays bassoon for the WV Youth Symphony. Frail, sophomore at Capital High School, plays both clarinet and violin at school and in the WV Youth Symphony.
As part of their Student Symphonic program activities, students sit on stage alongside WVSO musicians in different sections of the orchestra during rehearsals and meet renowned guest artists during the second half of the symphonic subscription series. They conduct personal research about the music being performed by the WVSO.
Sponsored by Dr. Andrew and Amy Vaughan for twelve consecutive years, this program continues to develop and encourage WV high school students in pursuing a career as professional musicians, educators, composers or conductors of the future. This monitored and time-intensive training program for serious music students remains a unique program among orchestras throughout North America.
Copyright 2011 WVSO