Nashville Ballet with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Location Amphitheater

Gate Pass or event ticket required.

Purchase Tickets

Grant Cooper, conductor
Joel Ayau, piano
Nashville Ballet


Choreography: George Balanchine          
Music: Arr. Hershy Kay
Selection from Western Symphony

Choreography: Paul Vasterling
Music: Ben Folds
Selection from Concerto: The Ben Folds Project

Choreography: Paul Vasterling  
Music: Aaron Copland
Appalachian Spring

Choreography: Jiří Kylián
Music: W.A. Mozart
Six German Dances, K. 571

Grant Cooper, conductor

Grant Cooper, Artistic Director and Conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, was named to the position in March 2001, and officially began his duties as the 9th conductor in the WVSO’s history on July 1, 2001. Mr. Cooper is also Artistic Director of a summer festival, the Bach and Beyond Festival in Fredonia, New York.

Mr. Cooper was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the son of a professional opera singer. He sang and acted in his first opera at age four, and studied piano and music theory prior to college. After completing his degree in Pure Mathematics at the University of Auckland, Mr. Cooper accepted a fellowship from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council for study with Bernard Adelstein and Gerard Schwarz in the United States. This, in turn, led to performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall and at Tanglewood under Arthur Fiedler, where he also performed as principal trumpet under conductors Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, and Sir Neville Marriner, among others.

Mr. Cooper was guest conductor of the XIVth Commonwealth Games closing ceremonies, appearing with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as soloist. In Europe, his engagement as guest conductor for the Mozart Wochen of the Heidelberger Schlossfestspiele prompted high critical praise. His appearances with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra have generated considerable enthusiasm and acclaim across the whole gamut of programs, showing his deep affinity for repertoire of enormous stylistic range. Mr. Cooper’s collaborations with artists such as Hilary Hahn, Midori, Elmar Oliviera, and Deborah Voigt have, similarly, prompted critical praise for his skills as an accompanist.

Mr. Cooper is especially passionate about creating works designed to introduce young audiences to the orchestra, including such works as Rumpelstiltzkin for Narrator and Orchestra, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Boyz in the Wood for Coloratura Soprano and Rap Singer, and Song of the Wolf. His educational music is an eclectic blend of modern and established styles with interactive participation of the audience, a compositional style that reflects his belief that orchestral music is a living, vital, and relevant part of our society, able to be appreciated by all.

Mr. Cooper resides in Charleston with his wife, Margie, and daughters, Jessica and Rachel.

Joel Ayau, piano

Pianist, conductor, teacher, and coach Joel Ayau enjoys an astonishingly diverse musical career. A graduate of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program of the Washington National Opera, he has also worked on the music staff of companies including Opera Memphis, Wolf Trap Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, the Castleton Festival, Toledo Opera, Aspen Opera Theater Center, and Music Academy of the West. In the 2017-2018 season, he will serve as an assistant conductor for the Washington National Opera productions of Aida, The Little Prince, and The Barber of Seville, West Side Story with the National Symphony, as well as La Cenerentola at Portland Opera.

As a pianist, Mr. Ayau has excelled in the fields of both instrumental and vocal accompanying. Described as "zesty" and "energetic" by the New York Times, he has performed instrumental recitals with luminaries including David Halen, Charles Neidich and principal members of the Vienna Philharmonic, National Symphony, and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. He has accompanied legendary singers such as Andrea Bocelli, Frederica von Stade, and George Shirley, as well as Russell Thomas, Alyson Cambridge, Zach Borichevsky, Kathryn Lewek, and others, in venues including Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and National Concert Hall in Taipei.  Mr. Ayau is a regular performer at many of the venues at the Kennedy Center; his recent performances of the Ben Folds Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, accompanying the Nashville Ballet in the Kennedy Center Opera House, were praised as "a worthy spectacle" by DC Theatre Scene.

Mr. Ayau holds the Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Michigan in Collaborative Piano, having studied under renowned pedagogue Martin Katz. He earned a Masters in Collaborative Piano from The Juilliard School, and bachelor’s degrees from New York University in Computer Science and Piano Performance. He holds the title of Professorial Lecturer of Piano at George Washington University, and is a frequent guest teacher at several universities in Taiwan. From 2011 - 2014, he served as pianist for the United States Army Chorus, performing for foreign dignitaries and audiences around the country.

Nashville Ballet

Since its founding in 1986, Nashville Ballet has grown to become the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee, presenting a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling. The company is comprised of 24 professional dancers from around the world who perform in all main stage productions during Nashville Ballet's performance season. The pre-professional second company, NB2, offers 30 young dancers the chance to hone their technique and artistry in preparation for a dance career with intensive training and performance opportunities. Nashville Ballet serves nearly 75,000 adults and children annually through performances and Community Engagement programming. Curriculum-based programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries and public elementary, middle and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet provides world-class instruction in ballet and other forms of dance for dancers of all ages.