Britt Cooper has always been interested in music since childhood, taking piano lessons and singing in a choir.
While singing at Lake High School, he was given the opportunity by director Marisa DiCesare to teach and conduct a Christmas concert. The experience hooked him — from that point on, he generally wanted to work with a group of singers to make music.
Cooper is currently Professor of Choral Music and Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts at Walsh College in North Canton. He lives with his wife Heather and his two children (11-year-old Megan and his 8-year-old Mark) in his township on Lake.
“I’m a proud product of Lake Local School, but I moved out just before I graduated (my dad worked for Goodyear),” Cooper said. “I graduated from Lakeside High School in Evans, Georgia. I have a Ph.D. in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina, an MA in Choral Conducting from the University of Alabama, and a BA in Vocal Performance from Augusta College in Augusta, Georgia.” .
“My wife, Heather, is a well-known musician and educator in Northeast Ohio. and will play organ at the Canton Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks Concert in April of this year.”
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Share what you teach and lead at Walsh University.
I have been at Walsh University for 17 years and have taught almost every music class the school offers, from theory and history courses to classical, jazz and rock music studies.
But my main role is choir conductor. The school’s flagship ensemble is the Walsh University Choir, made up of students from all academic disciplines.
From within the group, we will audition a more curated ensemble called the Chamber Singers. In addition to performing at multiple events across campus, the Chamber Singers are a touring ensemble. They have toured the country in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and we have been to Italy he has been three times. Performance highlights include singing for Mass at St. Francis of Assisi and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Walsh University has been a wonderful environment for me to grow as a teacher and as a musician. Most of our musical offering has been built and nurtured during my 17 years there.
What other choirs do you conduct other than the Walsh University choir?
For ten years I conducted the Canton Symphony Choir and had the honor of performing with the orchestra under the excellent direction of Gerhard Zimmermann. During this one year of his life, I reluctantly decided to give up the post. This was primarily in light of the growing schedules of her two busy children.
I am director of the chancel choir of the Presbyterian Church of Christ in Canton, working with my wife Heather who is organist and director of the Ministry of Music. We both consider ourselves fortunate to be part of that family of worship and music.Those seeking a thoughtful and engaging service should consider joining us downtown on Sunday mornings. Please give me.
For the past four years, I have also worked with the Metropolitan Choir. The Metropolitan Choir is an adult choir associated with Akron’s Summit Choir Society. Each year he conducts one of the true musical highlights of the holiday season in Akron, his Christmas Candlelight Concert.
Are you drawn to certain types of music in groups? If so, why?
The nature of my responsibilities directs me primarily to sacred music. Most of them are characterized as traditional, but we strive to provide singers with a rich musical experience, including spiritual, gospel, jazz and world music.
We’ve done concerts at Walsh singing in five or six languages.
I like making music with as many people as possible, so the holiday season is a great time to get audience participation. Familiar carols are incorporated into all these performances to make the experience as comprehensive and engaging as possible.
Having grown up in Stark County, what made you want to continue living and working in Stark County?
After completing my PhD, serendipity brought me back to Stark County when it came time to find a place to teach.
I had several interviews in the eastern half of the country and found Walsh to be the best fit. I chose to plant my roots and stay here because the people are warm despite the bad weather. I love the small communities of Uniontown and Hartville. They have created a wonderful place to raise their children.
We live in a small town, but you can hear the Cleveland Orchestra play from Severance Hall and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is just a short drive away.
One for fun: If you could play a song every time you entered the classroom, what would it be?
First of all, when I came in, I didn’t have the song played — I played and sang it myself!
Billy Joel was my musical hero growing up, winning a talent show playing and singing “Piano Man” in high school, but I prefer something more uplifting. Dreams” is a better choice. It’s evocative, and whenever he plays live, he weaves another classic rock song from one of his heroes into the middle.
To keep it fresh and fun, I would love to do the same!
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