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By: Gail Obenreder
“I feel strongly that music should not be a purely academic procedure but should be emotive and connective with every note on the page and every performance.” — Kevin J. Cope
An exploratory journey into the world of classical guitar informs Kevin J. Cope’s work in both composition and performance. Guided by a wide array of interests, he always aims for perfection in his playing but never allows that goal to dominate his concerts. “I strive to embody my love for the instrument and its repertoire in every performance,” and it’s always a goal that he communicates intimately with his audience.
Cope came to the First State to pursue master’s degrees in music composition and classical guitar performance at the University of Delaware, but his artistic trajectory has been anything but classical. Raised in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, he began college as an English major but – missing a connection to the world of music – switched to a study of audio recording. This field in turn led him to jazz guitar which, while intriguing, did not feel like a calling. But from his first lessons with a classical guitar instructor, “I was immediately hooked.”
A tribute to the influence of his own teachers, Cope is himself a dedicated instructor at the University of Delaware Community Music School. He also teaches varied-level students of all ages in other studios and privately. And (a former DDOA Artist Fellow in composition in 2015), he continues to compose for himself and on commission, creating an expanding repertoire.
Full length: 2 minutes 33 seconds
Work sample: 2 minutes 33 seconds
Instrument: classical guitar
Full length: 6 minutes 46 seconds
Work sample: 4 minutes 59 seconds
Instrument: classical guitar
Because he often concertizes playing his own compositions, Cope has developed an especially keen insight into audience response. And his appetite for progressive rock and metal bands – as well as a “layman’s love for cosmology and astronomy” – add a contemporary sensibility to the works he creates and plays. Many guitar aficionados expect to hear music that is traditional (from the last century back several hundred years), and Cope finds it especially rewarding and gratifying when people appreciate his new creations.
The music industry agrees. His debut 2017 recording Destination Unknown was warmly praised in Classical Guitar magazine. As a previous awardee, Cope is very cognizant of the impact that can have. He considers it “a great privilege to live in a state that appreciates and supports artists of all fields,” and he plans to use his award to help finance a second recording, Origin Unknown, that will feature his much-loved instrument in duos and quartets with others.Fellowship Home