New Organist/Choirmaster Will Cooper
William David Cooper (b.1986, Rocky Mount, North Carolina) is a conductor, organist, scholar and composer. Before coming to St. James, he was organist and choirmaster at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Davis, California. He has also been director of the UC Davis Early Music Ensemble, and director of music at First Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana.
Cooper's compositional output includes opera, orchestral, choral, vocal, chamber and electroacoustic music. In 2016 his opera Hagar was staged and performed at the National Opera Association convention in Indianapolis. He won the 2014 Black House Collective New Operas Competition, and his opera Cleopatra was subsequently performed at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. In 2013 he was commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria to compose Psalm 148. His music has also been performed by Augustin Hadelich, Liza Stepanova, the Lysander Trio, ECCE ensemble, AnticoModerno, the Lydian String Quartet, the Davis Madrigal Singers, and the Juilliard Orchestra, among others.
Cooper earned bachelors and masters degrees from the Juilliard School and a PhD from the University of California at Davis, studying composition with Samuel Adler, Robert Beaser, Kurt Rohde, Ross Bauer and Pablo Ortiz, and organ with Paul Jacobs. He received a 2014 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and three ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, including the 2012 Leo Kaplan Award. Cooper has also received fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, the Wellesley Composers Conference, I-Park, Brush Creek, the Ucross Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Current projects include an octet for the Scharoun Ensemble, comprised of principal players of the Berlin Philharmonic, a commission from the New York Virtuoso Singers, a setting of the Lux aeterna for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church NYC, and a new work for harp and cello to be premiered at the 2017 World Harp Congress in Hong Kong. His piano trio, An den Wassern zu Babel, will be featured on an upcoming CD with the Lysander Trio, and an article on Cristobal de Morales's Missa mille regretz will be featured in an upcoming edition of the scholarly journal Early Music.
St. James Music Program
The church maintains a strong music program, anchored by its fine organ, a 4-manual Ernest M. Skinner, Opus 220, which was built in 1914 and reconditioned in 2002. The sanctuary also holds a Mason & Hamlin piano, and the choir room is equipped with a Steinway baby grand piano. The St. James music library is extensive, having been collected over many decades, and includes access to the scores of The Anglican Singers, artists-in-residence at St. James.
The Adult Choir consists of approximately 15 dedicated choristers with extensive experience in choral singing and good sight-reading skills. Several of the choristers also sing with local auditioned groups such as The Anglican Singers and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus. The Choir rehearses weekly (Thursday evenings, 7:30-9:00) in preparation for the 10:00 a.m. Sunday service, which follows Rite II and uses the 1982 Hymnal.
St. James has long hosted both The Anglican Singers as guest artists-in-residence, and numerous organ recitals sponsored by the local section of the American Guild of Organists. The Music on Whale Oil Row series was launched two years ago by the church, which has sponsored excellent vocal and instrumental performers.
Southeastern Connecticut is rich in music, as home to Musical Masterworks, the Connecticut Early Music Festival, Salt Marsh Opera, and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, conducted by Yale’s Toshiyuki Shimada. There are numerous local, auditioned volunteer choirs such as the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus, the Mystic River Chorale and, slightly further afield, the Chorus of Westerly. Two music schools reside in Southeastern Connecticut: the Thames Valley Music School, on the campus of Connecticut College in New London, and Calvary Music School in Stonington, under the direction of Joseph Ripka.