James Cooper: A talent with which to be reckoned 

James Cooper ’16 represented Norfolk Collegiate at the Virginia Choral Directors Association District Division II on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach. 

More than 1,700 students auditioned, and James was selected as Bass II top delegate with high honors. He earned first place at the choral competition, which includes Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shores, and now James will go on to perform at the All-State Chorus of Virginia in April.

“Going into the audition I knew there were only six of us, so there were five other competitors. When the judges begin announcing the winners, they started backwards naming the alternates, then the first delegates,” James said. “So after the second delegate was announced and it was not me, I was very nervous because either I’m the top delegate, which is amazing, or I didn’t make it, which would be a little bit of a letdown.”

In his musical career, it was James’ first time singing Bass II.

“I usually sing Bass I, which is the higher voice part in the bass range, but I moved down to Bass II so that I could make sure that I would be able to go into state my senior year,” said James.    

It will be James’ second year participating in All-State Chorus, which is a rare accomplishment for musicians. 

“This event allows students to participate with other singers in the area who are top notch,” said Beth Wallace, upper school fine and performing arts teacher. “They are given challenging music and expected to perform it from memory. As most of our students are highly qualified and super talented, this gives the student the reality of the caliber of musicians that are in our area and teaches him or her the art of preparation and auditions.”

Collegiate has participated in the choral district competition for four consecutive years under Wallace’s leadership. 

“If any student is pursuing music in college it is imperative he or she attend this event,” said Wallace. “It gives him or her the opportunity to audition for All-State, and this is important for college applications.”

James hopes to pursue music education and theater at the collegiate level and plans to use this experience as a stepping stone.

“It helps me build connections with conductors, accompanists and students from all across Virginia. That recognition of being in a choir that comprises the top students in the state gives you the self gratification that I can take with me knowing that I can expand my limits pass state level,” said James. “I can expand pass the tiny district of Hampton Roads, and I can excel in the field of music.”

Once James graduates from college, he hopes to have a career that combines teaching, musical theater, singing, dancing and writing.

“I believe that will somehow lead me toward being a director and being able to help a person take their performance and make it into something that is meaningful, both for them and the audience,” said James.

He believes Norfolk Collegiate has prepared him and played a large role in developing his skills.

“Collegiate allowed me to have freedom to do what I would not have been able to do at a different school,” said James. I started doing choreography for the musicals and the teachers have supported me so much; they’ve given me vocal training and tips on directing. They never said ‘no’ and that’s what has made the biggest difference.”