John Craig Cooper



Quick Facts


Recent Work

               The Lords Prayer May 12th 2013

Voices for Freedom and Peace for chamber orchestra, dance May 2012

Five Elements, a multimedia work for music, dance, video, University of Massachusetts. 2010

Entrances and Exits for piano – Premiered by Michelle Kelly, Steinway Hall 2010 Boston

Around the Greenwood Tree - ballad opera premiered at International. School of Bangkok 1995. (A new version of the work to celebrate EarthDay to take place in Berkeley, California 2013).

Archetypal Encounters for solo cello  – Premiered Carnegie Recital Hall Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. cellist, Boston Anup Biswas 1990.

Barriers and Gateways for Chamber Orchestra – Premiere Ithaca College, NY 1989, conductor cellist, Einar Holm

Violin Concerto, soloist Kenneth   Cedar Rapids Symphony

Pieces in Eastern Modes for piano solo pianist, John Cooper. Indian tour of major cities, Carnegie Recital Hall, NY, San Francisco,  Choreographed by John McConville

Three Meditations for cello and piano - numerous performances in United States, Europe and Asia

Monadnock Symphony Orchestra of America Town Hall, NY

Compositions / Performances

•Ozark Svmphony premiered in Town Hall, New York City , Orchestra of America 1966

•Easter Cantata published by Mercury Music 1961 and conducted by David Randolph at Christ Chapel of Riverside Church 1965

•The Tower was performed by Paul Taylor's Dance Company 1959

•Elegy for piano / Tagore Songs published American Music Edition 1956

•Three Bagatelles for piano published by Boosey & Hawkes 1966

•Dialogues for Winds premiered by Detroit Symphony Wind Quintet 1964

•The Cry of Abishag, opera broadcast - New York City WNYC 1967

•Dance Myriads for piano published East/West Music 1970 - numerous performances

•Seven Pieces in Oriental Style for piano and Indian Percussion published East/West Music 1975 - numerous performances in United States and India Aspen Institute Scholarship for studying composition with Daris Milhaud summers-1952-55

•MacDowell Colony fellowships beginning 1962

•Columbia University Ditson grants 1961 and 62

•Paulina Creative Arts Award University of Missouri 1953

•A turning point in my career began in 1965 while I was on a Fulbright Lectureship to India. My assignment was to create a western theory music program for the Calcutta School of Music. During this period I founded the Calcutta Youth Orchestra and Calcutta Choral Ensemble. My understanding of Indian music was enhanced by learning the tabla, studying and composing music with Ali Akbar Khan and collaborating with south Indian composers and violinists, L. Shankar and L. Subramanium all of whom are international artists of the first rank.

•Compositions /performances /awards /recordings/teaching during Fulbright and residence in San Francisco


•Fulbright Lectureship 1965-66

•American Academy of Arts & Letters nominated 1988

•San Francisco Critics Circle Award for "Song of a Nomad Flute" 1985

•Certificate of Merit for service to the Institute and the world community California Institute of Asian Studies 1979

•TAKADIMI Rhythm instituted at California Institute of Asian Studies 1980

•Green Lake Music Festival composer-in-residence 1986

•Deer Valley International Chamber Music Festival composer-in-residence 1991

•Concert Tour of India songs and piano works featured 1965-66

•Concerto for Violin and Orchestra premiered with the Cedar Rapids Symphony 1987

•Composed Sarode Concerto with Ali Akbar Khan 1969-70

•San Rafael, San Francisco Paramita Trio , commissioned & premiered by the Mirecourt Trio CD Music and Arts label

•Three Meditations for cello and piano numerous performances in United States, Europe and Asia CD Music & Arts label 1988

•Barriers and Gateways for chamber orchestra premiered Ithaca College, NY 1989
performed with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra 1992 

•Around the Greenwood Tree, ballad opera premiered at international School of Bangkok 1995
directed by Tom O'Horgan / critical acclaim in the Bangkok Post. 1996

•Rites at the Well, a dance opera workshop production at Worcester Polytechnic Institute 1996,
directed by Tom O'Horgan Archetypal Encounters for solo cello premiere - Carnegie Recital Hall 1990

Compositions/ Performance/ Teaching

•presently residing in UMass & Amherst community 1998-2013

•Classes and private instruction at UMass Composition

•TA KA DI MI RhythmPiano/Musicianship Skills classes 

•7 Pieces in Oriental Style for Piano (Amherst and Northampton Unitarian Churches)

•The Growth of Joyfulness (for Buddhist KATMANDU art exhibit at 'UMass Hampden Gallery)

•Three New England Scapes for trumpet, bassoon piano (U-Mass graduate students)

•Amoris Misterium for string quartet (UMass and Amherst College graduate students)

•Divertimento for flute, clarinet, & bassoon (UMass undergraduate students)



BA in piano. University of Missouri.

MA Music Composition. University of Missouri.

As an Educator

Piano Judge at the National Guild of Piano Teachers- 1960-2013

Fulbright Grant

Professional Development

The Macdowell colony- 12 Residencies.

Wiscasset, Maine.

       Cooper's works have been performed in Asia, Europe, and the United States. His first published "Songs of the Woodlands" was released soon after Cooper returned from his graduate study in France. His 70 opus numbers include an extensive list of compositions, some of which are piano solos, a double concerto for cello and piano, two cello quartets, two woodwind quintets, two symphonies, and a number of chamber works combining unusual assortment of instruments, dance dramas "Rites at the Well", "Adonis", and "Around the Greenwood Tree", a ballad opera. He has recently complete a full scale opera, Yosse, based on the Jewish folk tale, "The Parable of Pearls". Other recent compositions include the "Monadnock Symphony", the "911 Requiem", written in response to the World Trade Center bombing. Also notable is "The Peace Cantata", written as a result of Cooper's involvement in The Interfaith Pilgrimage, a transatlantic journey by a diverse group of people that followed the historical path of slavery from Massachusetts to South Africa. Another outgrowth of his Fulbright is his TaKaDiMi Rhythm Program which he taught at India and the Univeristy of Massachusetts in Amherst. His publishers have included Theodore Presser, Carl Fischer, and Boosey & Hawkes. Most of his works are currently published by Paramita Takadimi Music Publishers.


As a Composer

       Flowing from an original, self-directed integrity that defies easy categorical description, John Cooper's music, though deeply rotted in classical and American tradition, breaks new ground. His blending of classical, blues, jazz, evangelical, and eastern elements into a style completely his own has increasingly gained the respect of his peers on both sides of the world and won standing ovations from his audiences, eliciting from the press comments such as "explorations toward synthesis" and "addition to a growing repertoire." Recently he combined forces with Ali Akbar Khan to create a Sarode chamber concerto. Works such as his Pieces and Studies for the Young Pianist and Evocation are fast becoming part of the concert repertoire. His impressive list of awards includes two grants from the Columbia Unicersity Ditson Fund, a grant from the John Anson Kittredge Educational fund, a Fulbright grant to teach in India, the Paulina Arts Award.

       Cooper began writing songs at the age of thirteen. He has studied with Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, Robert Sheldon, Ben Weber, and Nadia Boulanger. He completed his academic training at the University of Missouri. A turning point occurred in his career when he received a Fulbright grant to create a Western Music program for the Calcutta School of Music. During his tenure, he gained a solid appreciation for Indian music. As a result of this experience, he composed music that embraced a wide tonal and rhythmic spectrum. He came to appreciate the musical possibilities of a wedding between Western and Indian music, as illustrated in his words Three Songs in Eastern Mode, Songs of the Woodlands, and Seven Pieces for Piano in Eastern Mode. Like Lou Harrison, Colin McPhee, Charles Griffes and others, Cooper began utilizing non-western influences (modes, texts, instruments, dance) in his compositions, eventually founding the East-West Camber Ensemble (now the Paramita Chamber Ensemble).

As a Lecturer

       Beginning as a Fulbright lecturer in India, Mr. Cooper's popularity as a speaker has grown through the United States and southeast Asia. Vitally interesting are his thoughts on "cross influences between the music of India and the West," his Choral-Theory method of teaching music fundamentals, and his own music. He is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, co-founder of the Cooper Music Studios and the East-West Chamber Ensemble, president of the East-West Music Edition, member of ASCAP, and adjudicator for the National Guild of Piano Teachers.

As a Teacher and Performer

       As an innovative and resourceful teacher, his composer personality is at work leading the student toward interaction between himself and the music. His fresh and provocative Pieces and Studies grew out of a need to supply students with new musical concepts. "Doing" is the touchstone of his Choral-Theory method where experiencing music precedes the abstract.
       John Cooper brings to his performances technical virtuosity, warmth, sensitivity and musical intelligence. Especially exciting are his interpretations of his own works.

As Composer

“...his taut rhythmic control and sensitive rendition merit special mention.”