(A short biography, suitable for printing in concert programs, is available from the homepage of this site. Click here for web- and print-ready publicity photos.)
Carson Cooman (b. 1982; Rochester, New York) is an American composer with a catalog of hundreds of works in many forms—from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes. His music has been performed on all six inhabited continents in venues that range from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the basket of a hot air balloon. Cooman’s music appears on over forty recordings, including more than twenty complete CDs on on the Naxos, Albany, Artek, Gothic, Divine Art, Métier, Diversions, Convivium, Altarus, MSR Classics, Raven, and Zimbel labels.
Since 2006, Cooman has held the position of Composer in Residence at The Memorial Church, Harvard University. From 2008-11, he also served as Composer in Residence to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 2015, he has been Organ and Choral Editor for Lorenz Publishing Company and Sacred Music Press.
Cooman has collaborated with a number of noted poets, librettists, and authors including Mary Louise Bringle, John Core, Richard Leach, Elizabeth Kirschner, Joyce Carol Oates, Andrew Pratt, Mark Schweizer, Calvin Seerveld, Derek Strahan, Euan Tait, John Thornburg, Kathleen Wakefield, Rae E. Whitney, and Brian Wren.
Cooman’s musicology studies and writings have focused primarily on contemporary American and Australian composers. He served as editor of Living Music Journal from 2005–09 and is a staff critic for American Recorder and Fanfare magazines. He has edited organ publications for various publishers (including Boosey & Hawkes and Oxford University Press) and was editorial director for over 300 organ, choral, and hymn publications for Zimbel Press.
Cooman’s principal composition teachers were Bernard Rands, Judith Weir, Alan Fletcher, and James Willey, and he holds degrees from Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University. He has also studied with Leonardo Balada, George Tsontakis, Eric Chasalow, Barry Conyngham, and Elliott Gyger.
Cooman is an active organist who specializes in contemporary music. Over 300 new compositions by more than 100 international composers have been written for him. Cooman has made many recordings as organist, including two recordings of music by Lothar Graap (Kunaki), four recordings of music by Carlotta Ferrari (Kunaki and Divine Art), a recording of Andreas Willscher’s 19th and 20th organ symphonies (Divine Art), a recording of Willscher’s 5th organ symphony (Divine Art), music of Willscher and Raimund Schächer (Divine Art), a double CD set of music by Eva-Maria Houben (Wandelweiser), A Marvelous Love: New Music for Organ (Albany; featuring works by Van Ness, Dalton, Rozema, Benner, Åberg, Stover, and Machajdík), and Legends in the Garden: Organ Music by Thomas Åberg (Soundspells). His recordings of over 4,000 additional contemporary organ compositions can be heard freely from his website and YouTube.
Cooman is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and a Life Member of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
Selected press quotes:
“[a composer] writing big pieces that sound terrific” — American Record Guide
“…a shining new example of what is often described as ‘serious art music’ that is expected to challenge and inspire both listeners and performers alike.” — The Horn Call
” …composer of extraordinary energy and fecundity of imagination” — Records International
” …music of great interest, contrast, intellectual stimulation, and depth. This is music well worth knowing.” —The American Organist
“Cooman has something to say, an engaging voice to do so, and real musical chops.” — Fanfare Magazine
“…his music, which is a vivid combination of inspired mellifluousness, emotional excitement, and creative expressiveness.” — MusicWeb
“…adept at incorporating contemporary techniques to richly expressive ends” — All Music
“I was quite impressed by the music of Carson Cooman two years ago…now I am more than impressed—enthralled is more like it. … His works spin out seemingly endless tapestries of beautiful melodies and ideas.” — American Record Guide
“passionate and attractive” — Charleston Post and Courier
“an ardent communicator” — Leonard Link: Reporting and Commentary