Composer Constance Cooper received first prize in the 2002 Gustav Mahler Competition (Austria) for Acrobat, her double concerto for improvising solo violinist and cellist with chamber orchestra. The premiere on July 27, 2002 was recorded for broadcast on Austrian Radio and Television; an Italian premiere followed. She was a semifinalist in the Queen Elisabeth Competition of 1999 for her piano concerto Carinthia.
The music of Constance Cooper, "astonishingly evocative" (Newark Star-Ledger) and "poetic, with quarter-tones fully integrated into the harmony" (EAR magazine), and which "more than deserved the ovation it got" (Intermission) is "carefully crafted . . .with a sweet longing that shines through like a summer day," and "gives . . . hope that a new generation of composers can find atonality not only compelling but also truly beautiful." (Trenton Times). The first performance of her microtonal opera Easter Eve in September, 1996 was ". . . a strange and affecting evening of music . . . great dramatic effect [and] emotional authority . . . Cooper's music . . . painted every bit as gaudy and crowded a scene as could be imagined." (The Star-Ledger). Her reflections about microtonality on string instruments led to her invention of new hand-positions, notation and a "pizzicato-bow" for Coming From Us, commissioned by the American Composers Forum and premiered in New York City in 2001 -- "Music with life and soul . . ." (Sequentia 21), available as Cadence #5007.
Her piece for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, Where the River Turns Like an Elbow into Dusk, commissioned in 1987 for Opus One Records' first CD, was broadcast over National Public Radio as one of the year's best recordings. Her orchestral works have been conducted by Harvey Sollberger, Steven Mackey, and Lawrence Leighton Smith; solo and chamber works have been read and performed by the Arditti Quartet, Speculum Musicae, the bassist Robert Black and the Brentano Quartet. Poem by Marina Tsvetaeva for electro-acoustical ensemble and voice received its premiere at Merkin Hall in New York City in 1994. Maybe I'm Blue Too was performed by the New Jersey Symphony in April, 1996. Her Divertimento for String Quartet, released in September, 2000, is available on the Princeton CD label. Amoroso, her most recent orchestral work, was recorded by Harold Farberman in April, 2001. In January, 2002, Miss Cooper was the vocal soloist in her Eight Deadly Sins, premiered at Princeton University.
During 2004, her volume of pieces for organ, synthesizer, and improvising acoustic bass, Repaying Sin-driven Senators by Not Thinking About Them, completed during her 2002 residence at ArtOMI, will be premiered at Saint Peter's Church in New York City on April 20, as will her new microtonal piano trio with dialogue, Play Within a Play. Easter Eve will receive its New York premiere in 2005; her concerto for improvising French horn and big band will be heard for the first time in 2 Australian cities that same year.
Miss Cooper has appeared as composer, pianist, and singer at Lincoln Center, the Krannert Center of the University of Illinois and the Boston Conservatory of Music with the Princeton University Composers' Ensemble, Continuum, North-South Consonance and the American Microtonal Festival, and produced her own contemporary music recital series in her native New York City for seven years. She gave the Canadian premiere of Charles Wuorinen's "Piano Sonata (1969)" and the "hometown" premiere of Charles Ives' Concord Sonata in Concord, Massachusetts. She received her doctorate in composition from Princeton University in 2003.