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Kenneth Cooper 1941-2021: A Remembrance

 

It deeply saddens me to announce the passing last month of Kenneth Cooper. For almost 30 years SCE listeners had the privilege of experiencing Ken’s unique musical genius.

 

For Susie and me, and all those who performed with Ken, any opportunity to work with him was golden. Ken was widely regarded as one of the great harpsichordists/forte pianists of his time; but to work with him was to absorb his vast historical, biographical, musicological knowledge which magically combined with a musical temperament that extolled freedom of interpretation, spontaneity and a profound sense of humor.

 

Ken’s enormous store of information and technique never got in the way of intuitive and highly imaginative performing; his greatest act of virtuosity was the way he instinctually translated his scholarship and intellect into natural performances. Those of you who are familiar with Susie and Ken’s wonderful recording of the Bach flute works have heard the spectacular results.

 

But the bottom line for Ken was always fun. It had to be fun. I remember in the early days of SCE standing back stage (the kitchen at Mauweehoo!) after a concert, I exclaimed to Ken “That was SO fun!” He responded to me: “It doesn’t get any better than this.” That single confirmation of what the true goal of music making is and what we have created here in Sherman will always stay with me.

 

Here’s to the continuing memory of Kenneth Cooper.

- Eliot Bailen