Grant Cooper to Conduct Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Fairmont State

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Fairmont State University department of music will present a concert performance of Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aenea”.  Former West Virginia Symphony Orchestra conductor, Grant Cooper will lead an ensemble of professional soloists, Baroque instrumentalists, and the Fairmont State Collegiate Singers and Community Chorus.  There will be two performances: Friday, April 27, 7:30p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont, and Saturday, April 28, 7:30p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Stonewood, WV.  The concerts are free and open to the public.  Goodwill offerings will be accepted.

Maestro Grant Cooper retired in 2017 as artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and said, “It is always an honor to perform “Dido and Aeneas”, Henry Purcell’s colossal masterpiece which has never dimmed in its sphere of influence over centuries of English music.”  Cooper is excited to bring his own individual touch to the work by adding some extra music, some of which he composed specifically for this production, and including a theatrical performance of the Prologue.  As Cooper stated, “To have this opportunity to create a completion of the full libretto, as we are doing in this production, is, truly, the honor of a lifetime.  This is, literally, the world premiere of a work first conceived in 1689!”

“Dido and Aeneas” is widely considered to be the first great opera in the English language.  It recounts the tragic love story of Aeneas, a prince from the fallen city of Troy, and Dido, the queen of Carthage.  These performances will be a concert version with minimal costuming and no scenery.  As a rare treat, the program will also include the opera’s Prologue, a spoken drama that introduces the story, performed by theater students from Fairmont State.  The concert will last approximately 80 minutes.

The Fairmont State Collegiate Singers and Community Chorus are serving as the opera chorus.   Dr. Sam Spears, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Fairmont State stated, “These concerts are a special opportunity for our singers.  We are looking forward to collaborating with some terrific professional singers and instrumentalists.  Working with Grant Cooper is always a pleasure and a wonderful learning experience for our students.”

There will be two performances: Friday, April 27, 7:30p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont, and Saturday, April 28, 7:30p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Stonewood, WV.  The concerts are free and open to the public.  Goodwill offerings will be accepted. For more information, please contact Sam Spears at 304-367-4118 or email him at Sam.Spears@fairmontstate.edu.