Artist Spotlight: Jane Coop, Piano

Meet Jane Coop, piano.

Jane will teach and perform at Kneisel Hall during Session 1: June 23-July 21.

1. What is your earliest memory of classical music?

My parents were classical music lovers ever since I can remember.  Although they were not musicians themselves, they had a collection of 45s and a “changer” at home.  They went to the symphony concerts and had a piano in the house, which was left to them by an uncle.

2. When did you start to play, and were you serious and focused on the piano from the start?

I had an older sister who began piano lessons a few years before me.  I was captivated and often sat at the piano, pretending to play.  When I was almost six, my parents acquiesced to my demand for lessons. In high school, I learned how to play the double bass so that I could be in the school orchestra.  I only did that for 2 years, but it was fun!

3. Who was your most influential mentor?

All my piano teachers were influential, but it was Anton Kuerti who really got me to work and think at a high level. He was demanding and brilliant, and I had to give everything I had just to keep up!

4. Have you ever had an unusual concert experience when something (major) did not go as planned?

Early on in my career, I was playing the Schumann Concerto with a regional orchestra. Two unexpected and upsetting things occurred: 1) A couple of hours before the concert I was reaching into my wash bag and cut my thumb quite badly on my razor. I put on a bandaid and managed to stop the bleeding, but after I played the opening solo passage, which goes ripping down from the top of the keyboard to the bottom, the white keys had quite a lot of RED on them…  2) On top of that, when the guys were moving the piano into position after the overture, the back leg caught on a bump in the floor and collapsed.  The show went on with the piano propped up on a table.  Quite the evening!

5. Where is your favorite place to perform and why?

Over the years, my two favourite halls have been Wigmore (London) for the beautiful proportions and elegant decor, and the Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, for the gorgeous piano, perfect acoustic, the absolutely 100% attentive and knowledgeable audience, and the historic value (this is where Horowitz played on his famous return to his native country after some 60 years). Quite an honour, to say the least.  

6. How many years have you been coming to Kneisel Hall and do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

This is my 27th summer at Kneisel Hall!  I have so many wonderful memories of playing and connecting with my colleagues and of hearing the superb and touching performances of the young artists – it’s hard to choose. Perhaps I should say that the day that Seymour Lipkin phoned me (that in itself was such a surprise, as I had never met him!) to ask me to come to Kneisel Hall was one of the most important days of my life.  I have never looked back.

7. What do you do in your free time?

What is FREE TIME?!?!?!  Actually, since I retired from being Head of Piano at the University of British Columbia, after 33 years, I have indeed had time to read, to study French(…) to occasionally browse in thrift shops, and to spend time with my family, young and old!

Get to know more about Jane Coop.

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