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About the Cooper Competition

Beginning in summer 2010, Oberlin Conservatory of Music joined with The Cleveland Orchestra to offer an important new international competition for young musicians. The competition awarded more than $20,000 in prize money plus a performance with the orchestra.

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition at Oberlin, sponsored by Thomas and Evon Cooper, alternates annually between piano and violin. The program was first offered in summer 2010 for pianists, followed by a 2011 competition for violinists. Open to musicians between the ages of 13 and 18, the competition culminates in a final round at Severance Hall in Cleveland, where the top three competitors perform a full concerto with the incomparable orchestra. Beginning in 2016, overall cash prizes were increased to $40,000, including a $20,000 first prize.

Evon and Thomas Cooper

Oberlin and The Cleveland Orchestra

The relationship between Oberlin College and The Cleveland Orchestra dates back nearly a century, beginning with the philanthropy of John Long Severance, an 1885 Oberlin graduate and flutist who founded the Musical Arts Association, under which The Cleveland Orchestra was established in 1918.

Severance and his wife were the major donors for the construction of The Cleveland Orchestra’s home, Severance Hall, and John Long Severance served as the orchestra’s second board president. The Cleveland Orchestra first performed in Oberlin in 1919, six months after its founding. The group has returned to Oberlin each season since, giving more than 200 performances on campus to date.

Members of the orchestra teach at Oberlin. Oberlin graduates are among the orchestra’s ranks—James Feddeck’05 served as assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra from 2009 to 2013—and the conservatory’s best students have been integrated into the orchestra’s performances and other special projects for years.

Read more about the Oberlin Conservatory.

Read more about The Cleveland Orchestra.

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