Dr. Nancy Cooper, adjunct assistant professor of music, teaches music theory, organ, and harpsichord, and is the University Carillonneur. She is an active recitalist, having given solo concerts throughout the United States, Canada, England, and Germany. She has performed at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, and the AGO Conference on Organ Pedagogy. She is the Dean of the Missoula chapter of the AGO, and the AGO Region VIII Education Coordinator. She served on the AGO National Committee on Continuing Professional Education (COPE) from 2002-2008, and was Director of that Committee from 2005-2008. She was instrumental in organizing the AGO sponsored pedagogy conference, “Teaching Church Music,” which took place at Yale University in March 2009.
Dr. Cooper is one of the most respected authorities on Jeffersonian-era music in the United States. She was music consultant for Ken Burns' PBS documentary film, Jefferson, which aired in February 1997, and performed on the soundtrack as harpsichordist and fortepianist. Cooper and colleague Jan Walters have done extensive research into the musical life of Maria Cosway, friend of Jefferson during his years in Paris; the two co-authored a chapter on Maria Cosway’s musical life that was included in an Italian biography of Cosway, entitled Maria E Richard Cosway, published in 1998. In addition, they co-authored an article on Cosway that was included in the new edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which was released in 2001. Cooper has presented lecture-concerts on Jefferson, and the music of his life and times, in academic, community, and church settings throughout the United States;she was one of the featured presenters for the Inaugural Week festivities celebrating the opening the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in Charlottesville, Virginia, in January 2003. She was a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Montana Committee for the Humanities, presenting Jeffersonian programs throughout Montana, from 1996-2006.
An active and involved member of the Missoula community, Cooper has served on the Boards of the International Choral Festival and the Friends of Montana PBS. She is the originator of, and the Concert Coordinator for, the annual performance of the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah that takes place on campus every Thanksgiving weekend, and has in fourteen years raised over $130,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Missoula.
Cooper is the organist and choir director at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula, where she presides over a two-manual Richard Bond tracker organ, and a choir of forty. In the fall of 2009, as part of the Montana diocesan convention, she led the choir in services attended by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, Katherine Jefferts Schori. She is artistic director of the John Ellis Endowment for Liturgical Music, which operates from Holy Spirit, and has brought in such artists as the American Boychoir, and organists Marilyn Keiser (Indiana University), Martin Jean (Yale University), and J. Melvin Butler (St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle), and in the spring of 2010 will bring in Bruce Neswick (Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC). The Endowment funds a student intern in church music at Holy Spirit who works with Dr. Cooper as a choir member, service player, and general assistant.