Professor Emeritus at Concordia University of Edmonton Dr. John Hooper served as Professor and Director of the School of Music. In addition to conducting several choral and handbell ensembles, he taught conducting, choral technique, theory and aural skills, among others. For his work there, he was recently honoured with the 2022 Con Spirito Award by Choir Alberta.
Currently, he is the musical director of Island Voices, an auditioned, mixed chamber choir based in Courtenay/Campbell River on B.C.’s Vancouver Island.
Most recently he served as an examiner for the London College of Music through the University of West London. His work has taken him throughout southeast and south-central Asia as well as Africa and the Middle East. He has served as an evaluator and adjudicator for the Singapore Youth Festival, the Indonesia University Sacred Choral Festival Pesparawi, A Voyage of Songs (Thailand), the North Sumatra International Choral Competition (Indonesia), the City of Hobart (Australia) Eisteddfod, the Hong Kong Handbell Olympics, the Handbells Asia Festival in Malaysia, and several local festivals throughout Alberta. He was a guest clinician at Choralfest South in Calgary, sponsored by the Alberta Choral Federation, at the Canadian Cantando Festival in Edmonton, as for several local and international ensembles.
He has also developed and led professional development seminars in foundational conducting, a guide to rehearsal, expressive musicianship, and techniques for voice and handbells. These programs, along with his particular interest in Canadian and sacred choral repertoire, has led to many conference and workshop presentations, including those for the Choral Directors Association of Singapore, the North Sumatra International Choir Competition, Ars Choralis (Croatia) Australian National Choral Association, Handbell Society of Australasia, Handbell Ringers of Japan, Philippine Choral Directors Association, Singapore Ministry of Education, American Choral Directors Association, American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Handbell Guilds of Canada, Alberta Choral Federation, Music Alberta, and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and residencies in Indonesia and Australia.
As a choral conductor, he has led many university, community, semi-professional, secondary school, and church choirs. The Concordia Concert Choir, under his leadership, continued its long tradition by expanding its repertoire, visibility, and performance opportunities. The choir toured extensively, including Canada, the United States, and Europe. In addition, they were invited to sing at music festivals, choral conferences, teacher conventions, and special events for the church and the community. Under Hooper’s direction, the choir released three compact discs: an anniversary recording for the 75th anniversary of the institution, O Lord of Life and the most recent, simply titled 3. Concert performances and recordings have received excellent reviews – a “bona fide died-and-gone-to-heaven experience,” according to the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. He also was the founding conductor of Sine Nomine, a community-based young adult choir started in 2000 to focus on sacred choral music. Dr. Hooper has been a guest choral conductor for The King’s University, the Alberta Honour Choir, Australia’s Big Sing, Men Making Music in Edmonton, and Edmonton’s Da Camera Singers
Dr. Hooper established the handbell program at Concordia, having conducted the Concordia Handbell Ensemble and Jubiloso!, an auditioned community handbell choir which has twice performed at the Handbell Guilds of Canada’s biennial national convention, The Ringing Link. He was invited by the Handbell Guilds of Canada to be the Canadian conductor at the International Handbell Symposium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and in Osaka, Japan. He was also a featured conductor at Belleship in Hong Kong, the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain‘s National Residential Ringing Week, the Handbell Ringers of Japan‘s National Festival, Hong Kong’s International Handbell Festival, Handbell Asia Festival in Malaysia, as well as Canada’s national festival, The Ringing Link, in London, Ontario, and Classic Bronze in Edmonton, Alberta.
He has written and arranged music for handbells, choirs, and other instruments. Several of his works have won the Fred Merrett Contest for New Compositions sponsored by the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers, including Introspection, Intrada, Gathering, Toccata, and Agnus Dei. The latter two are published by From the Top Publishing. Passacaglia Chromatica was honoured by Portland, Oregon’s Bells of the Cascades in their Composition Contest. Toccata was the Canadian composition featured at the International Handbell Symposium in Liverpool, England and Gathering was performed by the Festival Choir at the International Handbell Symposium in Vancouver, B.C.
Commissioned to write for the 100th anniversary of Robertson-Welsey United Church, Hooper set A New Creed, which was received with acclaim by those present, including the moderator of the United Church of Canada. A Choral Compline was premiered by The Kong’s University combined choirs in December 2018. The Strawberry Grows, for women’s choir was featured in SkirtsAfire HERarts Festival. His setting of Io Vivat will be premiered by Pro Coro Canada in November 2016. Several hymn arrangements and historical editions have been performed locally and internationally.
Dr. Hooper’s interest in choral repertoire has resulted in presentations at the American Choral Directors’ Association Northwest Division Conference on Canadian sacred a cappella choral music and the Royal Canadian College of Organists national conference on choral-organ repertoire, the Philippine Choral Directors Association on Canadian choral music, as well as the Association of Canadian Choral Communities and the Australia National Choral Association on the music of Robin John King. Furthermore, he worked on a Compendium of Sacred Canadian Choral Music through an internal research grant from the Centre for Scholarship and the Christian Faith.
His academic focus is on conducting and pedagogy, resulted in a set of three videos, The Art & Work of Choir, designed for the novice choir director, which are regularly broadcast on ACCESS-TV. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Music Alberta Magazine, ACF’s Quires, the Canadian Lutheran, the Manitoba Music Educator, and the ACDA Choral Journal.
As an active singer, Dr. Hooper performed as a professional chorister, having sung with Pro Coro Canada, Da Camera Singers, and the Phoenix Bach Choir. He is a member and served on boards of the Choral Canada, the Choirs Alberta Choral, the American Choral Directors Association, and the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers.
In addition, he has served the church through presentations and guest conducting at conferences and symposia sponsored by Lutheran Church-Canada, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Camp Pioneer (Angola, NY), and the Edmonton Chinese Christian Choir. He has also served as chair of the Lutheran Church-Canada’s Committee on Worship and Music.
He earned his D.M.A. in choral music from Arizona State University as well as degrees in theory and composition from A.S.U. and James Madison University in Virginia. Dr. Hooper furthered his studies under Dr. Richard Sparks, Maestro Frieder Bernius, Maestro Peter Phillips, and Dr. René Clausen through grants from the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund.