Pianist Jane Coop, one of Canada’s most prominent and distinguished artists, was born in Saint John, New Brunswick and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. For advanced studies her principal teachers were Anton Kuerti in Toronto and Leon Fleisher in Baltimore.
At the age of nineteen she won First Prize in the CBC’s national radio competition (the Young Performers Competition), and this, along with First Prize at the Washington International Competition, launched her career. In the early years she made recital debuts at Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall (now called Weill Hall), and gave concerto performances with the Toronto Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic the Victoria Symphony and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra. In 1976 she was invited to tour the New England States as soloist with Mario Bernardi and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada in Mozart’s Concerto in D minor, K.466.
Subsequently she has played in over twenty countries, in such eminent halls as the Bolshoi Hall in St. Petersburg, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Beijing Concert Hall and the Salle Gaveau (Paris). In her own country she has given concerts from north to south: Whitehorse (Yukon) and Niagara Falls (ON), and from west to east: Tofino (BC) and St. John’s (Nfld) and many, many cities, towns and communities in between. She is in fact one of the few who has remained resident in Canada throughout her career.
Coop’s love of chamber music has led her to collaborate with artists from many parts of the world. Her longtime association with violinist Andrew Dawes, and her more recent partnership with cellist Antonio Lysy have given her the opportunity to delve into the sonata literature of Beethoven, a body of music to which she feels particularly drawn. Summer festivals in North America and Europe have provided venues for performances with the Manhattan, Miami, Audubon, Orford, Lafayette, Colorado, Seattle, Angeles and Pacifica String Quartets, as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Winds, York Winds, and such luminaries as Barry Tuckwell, Jamie Somerville, Martin Beaver, Jeanne Baxtrasser and Michelle Zukovsky. Coop is a cherished faculty artist at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the oldest chamber festival in North America. There she collaborates in performances of much of the chamber music literature for piano and strings, and coaches brilliant young musicians from across the continent.
Her commitment to teaching is centred around her long time position at the University of British Columbia’s School of Music in Vancouver, where she was a senior professor and Head of the Piano Division. In 2003 she was designated Distinguished University Scholar by the university’s president, and in 2007 she received a Killam Teaching Award. In 1992 she was the founding Artistic Director of the Young Artists’ Experience – a summer chamber music program for students from the age of 14 to 18 which took place in Whistler, BC. Its mandate was to give the young people a wide exposure to art and life, thus offering in the daily schedule yoga, composition, poetry, philosophy and visual art as well as music.
Coop’s reputation has inspired international competition organizers to invite her to judge their events over the past fifteen years. She has served on the juries of the Kapell (Maryland), Dublin, Washington DC, Hilton Head, Honens, Gina Bachauer and the New York Piano Competitions. She has also been a jury member for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, the Glenn Gould Prize, the Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artists Grants and various Canada Council grant awards. Her sixteen recordings, three of which have been nominated for Juno awards, have garnered glowing reviews and have been heard on classical radio programs in many countries.
In December 2012, Jane Coop was appointed to the Order of Canada, our country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. She was also appointed to the Order of British Columbia in May, 2019.