Cooper, Robert

Robert (Henry) Cooper. Choral conductor and clinician, radio producer, teacher, tenor, b. Fredericton, NB, 7 Apr 1948; B MUS (Western) 1972, M MUS (Western) 1975. He sang leading roles in high school musicals and later with the Orpheus Operatic Society of Ottawa. He won awards, including the Rose Bowl in 1968, at the Ottawa Kiwanis festival. He undertook major roles in music theatre at the Banff SFA in 1969 and 1971, and was active 1969-75 in theatrical performances in Ottawa, London, Ont, and Toronto.. His teachers at the University of Western Ontario (where he also conducted performances of musicals) included James Stark, Alvin Reimer, and Deral Johnson; he did post-graduate studies with Martin Stephani (1976-8) at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, Germany. He also studied conducting with Helmuth Rilling 1977-8 at the Frankfurt Hochschule für Musik, and with Robert Shaw in 1972 and 1973 at Blossom Festival School and in 1983 and 1985 at Westminster Choir School. Cooper began his career as a choral conductor and simultaneously began to work for CBC radio, which subsequently broadcast many of his guest conductor performances.including the Ontario Youth Choir (1976-8), Beggar's Opera with the Stratford Festival Professional Youth Choir (1980), the opening at Ontario Place of the Toronto International Festival (1984), the opening festival at Expo 86 with BC Chorfest (1986), Donizetti's La Favorita with Opera in Concert at MacMillan Theatre (1986), the Toronto premiere of Missa Gaia at the 1989 International Choral Festival, and The Marriage of Figaro with Pacific Opera Victoria (1990).

In 1980 Cooper became producer of CBC radio's 'Choral Concert,' a position he continued to hold in 1990. In 1981 he was named executive producer of opera and choral music for CBC Radio Music. In addition to guest appearances as a choral conductor, Cooper served as permanent conductor of the Jubilate Singers (1977-9), the Opera in Concert Chorus (1979-), the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir (1979-), the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Concert Choir (1982-8), and the Niagara Symphony Chorus (1989-).

Cooper lectured 1982-8 at the University of Toronto on choral music performance. He was president 1985-6 of the Ontario Choral Federation and in 1988 became president of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. He has edited the Youth Choir Choral Series, published by Gordon V. Thompson/Chappell.