‘Richly Talented’ Music Professor at WCU Earns Prestigious Pew Center Fellowship

Ken Knickerbocker
By

Jacob Cooper, an associate professor in the Wells School of Music at West Chester University, has been awarded a $75,000 Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship. Cooper is one of only 12 Fellows selected this year by the Pew Center. The Fellowship will allow the Philadelphia-based musician to continue his work of composing new music.

The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage is a multidisciplinary grant-maker dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The fellowships provide artists with economic freedom and allow them to develop their work more fully. The program aims to provide support at moments in an artist’s career when it is most likely to have the greatest impact on the artist’s long-term professional development.

Fellowships are awarded to practitioners in a wide range of media and aesthetic traditions. This year’s Fellows are artists working in music, performance, visual arts, film, poetry, and writing.

“I am very honored and gratified to receive this award,” said Cooper. “As a teacher, it is vital for me to continue my practice as a composer and to collaborate with other artists, so that I can pass this knowledge and experience onto my students.”

“At this moment of acute challenge precipitated by COVID-19, our grants represent a steadfast belief in the resilience of the Philadelphia region’s cultural community and the abiding importance of the arts in civic life,” said Paula Marincola, the Pew Center’s Executive Director. “These grants affirm and bolster the cultural sector in continuing its essential work: nurturing creative practice and presenting innovative public programs that deeply connect us to one another as they illuminate diverse personal experiences and some of today’s most pressing issues.”

Cooper has been lauded as “richly talented” by the The New York Times. He has written commissions for dozens of artists, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, the Carmina Slovenica choir, and others. His works have appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, as well as at arts festivals around the world.

His recent album, Terrain, has been hailed as “vital and compulsive” by Pitchfork. The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s recording of his expansive Stabat Mater Dolorosa was listed by National Public Radio as a Top 10 album of January 2020, and The New York Times described the work as “exhaustingly poignant.”

At WCU, Cooper teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in Music Theory, Composition, and Studio Recording. He received his B.A. in Music and Geology from Amherst College and his D.M.A. in Composition from Yale School of Music.

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