On consecutive Thursdays in January, Middlesex was treated to two extraordinary recitals, first by lyric soprano Sarah Cooper ’09 on January 18 and then by violinist Thomas Cooper ’13 on January 25. Each performed first during weekly chapel and then in the Danoff Recital Hall, giving the school community a rare and remarkable opportunity to enjoy their artistry right here on campus.
Accompanied on piano by Music Department Head Pierson Wetzel, Sarah first sang a spiritual, “His Name So Sweet,” followed by Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. Students who were free after chapel – or who were attending their scheduled music classes – headed to the Danoff Recital Hall, where Sarah performed several pieces, including Debussy’s “C’est l’extase langoureuse,” an aria from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess, and the spiritual “Deep River.”
While answering questions afterwards, Sarah noted that she gained a strong foundation for her operatic career thanks to AP Music Theory with Pierson, French classes with Carrie Bolster and Chantal Jordan, and AP English with John Hirsch, whose lessons in literary analysis have facilitated her ability to interpret and dramatize lyrics. She performed twice at Carnegie Hall last year and looks forward to singing with the Boston Lyric Opera in February.
A week later, it was Thomas’ turn to impress the School as he played Debussy’s “Clair de lune” during morning chapel, with Pierson accompanying him on piano. Subsequently, in the Danoff Recital Hall, Thomas performed Bach sonatas for solo violin, also collaborating with Pierson on piano for Fritz Kreisler’s “Tempo di Minuetto” and the first movement of Schubert’s “Grand Duo Sonata.”
In fielding questions, Thomas said that he had enjoyed being in Middlesex’s Chamber Orchestra as a student, playing everything from Vivaldi to the theme from Downton Abbey. Acknowledging that he has chosen “a difficult profession, with doubt every step of the way,” Thomas – like his sister – remains drawn to the career by a passion for music. “You can’t see yourself doing something else,” he said. In addition to being the founder and artistic director of Fermata Chamber Soloists, Thomas will next perform one of Bologne’s violin concertos with the Du Bois Orchestra in Cambridge.