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Retired EOU Professor Emeritus honored

Retired EOU Professor Emeritus honored

A retired Eastern Oregon University (EOU) music faculty member was recently named by a state teachers organization as the 2024 Oregon Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Foundation Fellow nominee. 

Dr. Matt Cooper, who was a faculty member for 31 years, will be recognized at an annual conference in 2024.

“It’s an honor to be nominated,” Cooper said. “The foundation raises funds to send award-winning students from the state of Oregon to national events.” 

Fat Tuesday came back in a big way following two years of Covid protocals that stiffled in-person events. Eastern Oregon University played a part in that when several faculty members, including Matt Cooper on keyboards, performed at a downtown venue.

Cooper, who taught at EOU from 1991 through 2019, said he is “not on the clock,” but still busy performing and writing. 

Cooper, from the Blue Mountain District, was recognized for his outstanding contributions as a teacher, performer, and leader in the music community. He served as the Blue Mountain District President and has held various offices in both the district and the state, including serving as the state president of the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA). 

A highly respected figure in the Oregon music community, Cooper is a Professor Emeritus of Music at Eastern Oregon University, where he received the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Faculty award.

He served as OMTA President from 2000 to 2002, during which time he traveled to Khabarovsk, Russia as part of the “Music Without Borders” exchange program, leading to two additional invitations to perform in Khabarovsk in 2002 and 2004. Dr. Cooper earned his Ph.D. in Musical Arts at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

A former prizewinner in the Thelonious Monk and Great American Jazz Piano competitions, he is the author of “Duke Ellington: A Study in Styles.” Cooper has adjudicated many piano festivals and competitions and has performed numerous solo recitals, chamber recitals, and concerto appearances throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Cooper will be giving a piano recital on Sunday, July 16 on the campus of EOU. “An Afternoon Piano Recital” at 4 p.m. in EOU’s Schwarz Theatre. The performance is open to the public. 

The MTNA Fellow program recognizes individuals in the music community while supporting the efforts of the MTNA Foundation Fund through donations in the nominee’s name.

If Cooper’s nomination is fully funded by January 15, 2024, he will be honored at the annual MTNA Conference in March 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. The funds Cooper raises will be used to provide scholarships to young people from Oregon. 

The OMTA Honors Committee encourages its members to consider donating in Cooper’s name to the MTNA. The MTNA Foundation actively supports students and teachers throughout the country through commissions of new music, awards for excellent performances, scholarships, study grants, and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

“It was a surprise,” Cooper said, “it came out of the blue. I’m hoping we can raise the money, it’s good for the kids, the students work so hard at this level.”