Jo is a musician, composer and teacher from west Wales living and working in London.
Jo Cooper grew up listening to the sounds of the sea, the wind rattling sash windows and mysterious creaks in an old farm house in wild west Wales. She spent time on four continents before settling in London. She has recently had works performed by the Assembly Project (at St Magnus International Festival), Ensemble de Madrugada, and Peckham Chamber Orchestra as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has studied with Deirdre Gribbin, Stephen Montague, and Paul Newland at Trinity Laban (as a Trinity College London Scholar), where she gained a distinction in her Masters degree in composition. When she is not composing, Jo is in demand as a professional folk musician and educator. She enjoys attempting to increase the number of languages she speaks and doing crosswords.
Jo grew up in rural west Wales in a music-loving family. She learnt classical violin and viola alongside playing tradition music from Ireland, Wales and elsewhere in Europe on the tin whistle and fiddle. As a teenager she was lucky enough to have opportunities to play with school, regional and national youth orchestras in events such as the National Festival of Music for Youth and the San Francisco Mozart festival and in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Purcell Room. Alongside an active role in classical musical music, she was also able to take part in two projects focussing on an exchange between young traditional musicians of Wales and Sweden, and visited ‘Ethno’ in Sweden twice, learning about traditional music from all over the world from other musicians. These experiences led to the development of a keen interest in sound, the production of sound and different cultural approaches to music.
Jo studied on the BMus Folk and Traditional Music course at Newcastle University from 2003, graduating in 2007 with first class honours. This cemented her abilities as a traditional music and further broadened her familiarity with different musical languages found around the world. Alongside her traditional music, Jo studied Contemporary Composition for two years under Agustin Fernandez, exploring the capabilities of expression in a conventional concert environment. During this time, she further developed an interest in music as a way of sharing a narrative or representing a place or situation.
From 2008 to 2010, Jo lived and worked in Japan as an English teacher. Through studying and living in a completely different language and culture, she became interested in different forms of communication, verbal and non-verbal, and how they are affected by society and social interactions. In turn, this affected her composition work in her approach to the construction of musical language, and enabled her to develop a flexibility of approach. Since returning from Japan, she has worked regularly in schools both in mainstream music lessons and leading workshops in traditional music.
From 2014 to 2016 she further developed her composition and education skills by studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (supported by the Trinity Laban Trust), where she developed her alter-ego Jezami (working in Electronic Dance Music), her composition portfolio, and a project focussing on repertoire for teaching. She gained a distinction in her MMus Composition.