As he begins his 15th season of providing great music to the entire state of West Virginia, Maestro Grant Cooper announced his impending retirement at the opening night concert of the West Virginia Symphony.
The concert, held on Saturday, Sept. 19, was an emotional one for Maestro Cooper.
“Margie and I have devoted more than a third of our careers to the WVSO and there is no orchestra we love more. But, there is a season for everything, and we felt that the time had come to find more time to spend with our expanding family and to explore other aspects of my musical imagination, particularly as a composer,” Cooper said.
Cooper will continue to serve as Artistic Director to ensure a stable transition. He will conduct the entire 15-16 season, and will conduct all pops, education and touring programs during the 16-17 season. During that year, six guest conductors will be invited to conduct the orchestra during the classical subscription concerts.
In a third year, once a new conductor has been named, Cooper will serve as Artistic Advisor and conduct on a more limited basis, as needed.
Cindy McGhee, WVSO board member and chair of the search committee is excited about the process.
“Maestro Cooper’s contribution to the musical landscape of West Virginia has been immeasurable. This season, his fifteenth, is a year of celebrating his tenure with the WVSO,” McGhee said.
The search committee will spend the next few months reviewing resumes, evaluating videos and recordings, and consulting with musicians to pick the best candidates for the community. McGhee added, “We will be seeking feedback from our audience for each candidate.”
Joe Tackett, president of the WVSO, described the mechanics. The search committee will include 13 members, including musicians, board, donors and community members. There will also be a 25 member advisory committee to provide broader insight.
Tackett said, “The vision is for the next conductor to build on Maestro Cooper’s commitment to education and musical excellence.”
The committee will be announcing the position and accepting resumes internationally. The West Virginia Symphony has a statewide presence and performs over 35 concerts a year throughout the state.