Composer Jacob Cooper’s label debut, Silver Threads comprises a six-song cycle performed by soprano Mellissa Hughes. Cooper wrote the title track for Hughes in 2011, setting a haiku attributed to Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō for voice and electronic track. To expand it into a full cycle (for voice and track), he enlisted five other poets to write text that was inspired by the haiku: Greg Alan Brownderville, Tarfia Faizullah, Kristin Kelly, Dora Malech, and Zach Savich.
Nonesuch releases composer Jacob Cooper’s label debut, Silver Threads, on April 29, 2014. The album comprises a six-song cycle performed by soprano Mellissa Hughes. Cooper wrote the first song, “Silver Threads,” for Hughes in the winter of 2011, setting a haiku attributed to the famous Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō for voice and electronic track. To expand it into a full cycle (all for voice and track), he enlisted five other poets to write text that was inspired by the haiku: Greg Alan Brownderville, Tarfia Faizullah, Kristin Kelly, Dora Malech, and Zach Savich.
In explaining his use of electronic track on these songs, Cooper says that 19th Century “German lied was associated with the piano because it’d just had a huge surge of popularity, and there was one in every middle-class home—it was essentially a folk instrument at that time.” He continues, “I feel like, in a way, the laptop is so prevalent now that it’s a sort of contemporary folk instrument. The sounds it can create, which we hear all the time on the radio and elsewhere, are the folk sounds of today. So it seemed like the natural accompaniment for a song cycle.”
Jacob Cooper’s compositions and multimedia works have gained recognition in both North America and Europe, with performances by the JACK Quartet, the Calder Quartet, Ensemble ACJW, the NOW Ensemble, and the Minnesota Orchestra. His work has recently appeared at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the MATA Festival, the Wordless Music concert series, and Bargemusic. Upcoming projects include commissions for eighth blackbird, the Albany Symphony, and The Living Earth Show.
Lauded as “richly talented” by the New York Times, Cooper has earned awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, and the American Music Center, and was the winner of the 2011 Carlsbad Music Festival competition. He has attended the Bang on a Can Summer Institute and the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, and he has held residences at the Ucross Foundation, the Banff Centre, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Cooper is also a member of the composers collective Sleeping Giant with labelmate Timo Andres and others. Cooper works in visual media as well, and his video Commencer une autre mort was shortlisted for the 2010 YouTube/Guggenheim Biennial of Creative Video. Also dedicated to teaching and scholarship, Cooper has served on the faculty at Amherst College and recently completed the requirements for his doctorate in composition at the Yale School of Music.
Mellissa Hughes, hailed by the New York Times as “a versatile, charismatic soprano endowed with brilliant technique and superlative stage instincts…indispensable to New York’s new-music ecosystem,” enjoys a busy international career in both contemporary and early music. A dedicated interpreter of living composers, Hughes has worked closely with Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Steve Reich, and Neil Rolnick, and has premiered works by David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Ted Hearne, Caleb Burhans, Christopher Cerrone, and Frederick Rzewski, among others. In the classical concert hall she has performed Mozart’s Vespers and Requiem under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner, Handel’s Dixit Dominus with Sir David Willcocks, and the role of Dido under the direction of Andrew Lawrence King. Equally at home in front of a rock band, Hughes has received widespread acclaim in her role as lead vocalist of Newspeak, an amplified alt-classical band, and for her work with Missy Mazzoli’s Victoire.
Music Composed by Jacob Cooper
Recorded by Jacob Cooper in Brooklyn, NY
Mixed by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio, Montreal
Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge, New York, NY
Assisted by Rich Morales
Design by John Gall
Cover Artwork: Leonid Meteor Storm, as seen over North America on the night of November 12-13, 1833; Edmund Weiß, Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt
Mellissa Hughes, voice