The son of a soloist with the New Zealand Opera Company, GRANT 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 embarked on a performance career as an orchestral trumpet player, which led to a fellowship from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council for study with Bernard Adelstein and Gerard Schwarz in the U.S. This was followed by performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall and at Tanglewood under Arthur Fiedler, where he also performed as principal trumpet under conductors Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa. and Sir Neville Marriner, among others.
His initial opportunities as a conductor grew from his colleagues’ invitations to lead them in larger chamber ensemble performances. Since then, his many guest conducting engagements have included the Houston Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, The Florida Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, and Syracuse Opera, among many others. Recent international debuts include the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Malaysian Philharmonic.
Cooper was artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2017, previously serving as resident conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra for 10 seasons. He currently serves as artistic director of the Bach and Beyond Festival in Fredonia, New York.
A commissioned composer, Cooper is especially passionate about creating works designed to introduce young audiences to the orchestra. His concert works include A Song of Longing, Though …, for soprano and orchestra, which has received numerous performances in recent seasons. His ballet, On the Appalachian Trail, premiered at Chautauqua in 2010. Cooper has recorded for Delos International, Atoll, Ode, Mark, and Kiwi Pacific recordings, and has the unique distinction of having CD recordings of himself as conductor, performer, and composer, all currently available in the catalog.
Cooper’s dedication to serving the West Virginia arts community was recognized in the spring of 2012 with his receiving the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts and with Fairmont State University conferring the degree of Doctor of Letters in 2017. He has been on the conducting faculty of Eastern Music Festival since 2013.