Timothy Cooper is trying to construct a better world. His tools are his music, art and films as well as his job as the Executive Director of Worldrights, the human rights advocacy organization -- a career that has involved extensive travel, especially throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim. He titled his second solo piano recording East Wind because it was influenced by the people, culture, art and scenery of the Far East as well as the ancient mystery and compelling power of the Orient.
“I want to help our global society become more peaceful and harmonious, and one way to do that is to release gentle and positive music into the world,” explains Cooper.
“I used the title East Wind as a poetic metaphor for the winds of change blowing from the Far East, bringing with them new sensibilities, an influx of trade and seismic global power shifts. The Far East is on the rise today and is of consequence. But on a simpler level, I also wanted to infuse the sound of an Asian wind into my piano playing – how that mercurial wind sounds blowing through bamboo forests at night, whispering across green seas at dawn, howling over the Great Wall in winter, tangling with the open fires of the Orient to make them burn brighter, and moaning with people’s sorrow and pain.”
Cooper’s music is available for purchase at the record company website (www.new-piano-age.com), select stores, online retailers such as www.cdbaby.com and www.amazon.com, and various digital download locations including iTunes.
The East Wind CD contains nearly an hour of music and 30 selections (21 of them under two-minutes in length). The shortest piece, the 42-second “Lark on a Limb,” is light and delicate as a tiny bird, whereas the longest tune, the powerful four-and-a-half-minute “Dawn of Time,” explores “the tragedies of ancient cultures, come and gone.” These pieces show the influence of various forms of Asian art such as a Japanese haiku poem, a Chinese watercolor-on-silk drawing, or a tiny cultivated banzai tree, perfect in their sparseness and simplicity. The music sounds delicate and crystalline one moment, but forceful and resonating the next. These original compositions contain deep emotionalism, penetrating perspectives and inspirational beauty.
“Over many years traveling throughout Asia, the spirit of Far Eastern culture -- and its serene contemplative aesthetic -- found its way into my subconscious. Those travels deeply affected me. I remember riding on buses packed with peasants in southern China in winter and chugging up old mountains covered by rounded tea trees; taking slow-moving trains down through the hot forests and jungles of Malaysia; and motorboating along the coastline of Northern Vietnam and passing by the breathtaking Kastral limestone formations jutting out of the South China Sea like ghostly visions in mystic dreams.” That coastline is captured in the video for the tune “East Wind” available for viewing at Cooper’s website. Some of the tune titles on the CD hint at the Far East (“Asian Rain,” “Ancient Moss,” “Wonder Wall”) while others speak of seasons (“Winter Forests,” “Summer Shimmers”) or times of the day (“Morning,” “Daylight,” “Starlight”). Additional inspiration for the music came from Chinese writer and poet Tu Fu who lived in the mid-700s.
Cooper, who lives in Washington, DC, creates thought-provoking art in several fields. His previous musical recording, Light on the Water, was influenced by the tragic terrorist acts of 9/11 and the subsequent healing process that the American public went through. That album went Top 15 on the international new age airplay chart. In addition to being a pianist and composer, he is a novelist, photographer and film-maker. His first novel, World One, was about “nuclear war with a happy ending when the entire planet finally learns to live together in peace.” His second novel, 2020, deals with Jesus Christ returning to earth and running for President. With his visual art, Cooper has created his Worldlights collection (www.world-lights.com), photographs taken all over the world showing the globalization of culture and the exultation of commercialism. The photos are placed in large-format lightbox triptychs. Cooper also has long been involved with film-making and his most recent project is four interrelated documentaries on human rights, global warming and pursuit of world democracy, entitled “World Rights,” from his company Freedom’s Gate Films.
Beyond shining a spotlight on world problems through the use of art, Cooper also heads Worldrights (www.world-rights.org), whose mission is “to promote and protect human rights under principles of international law, recognizing that a violation of human rights anywhere is a violation of human rights everywhere.” The organization makes appearances on behalf of political and religious prisoners, disenfranchised populations and victims of racial discrimination. Worldrights not only lobbies governing bodies, but also utilizes diplomacy and legal petitions to apply pressure, and uses speeches, lectures and publicity to disseminate information and build awareness. Cooper has spoken before numerous international human rights organizations including various United Nations’ committees.
Cooper began his musical career at age seven singing in the choir at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Washington, DC. At the Washington National Cathedral, one of the largest sanctuaries in the country, he spent two years as a chorister in the junior choir and then moved up to the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys while also attending and singing at the St. Albans School for Boys. “I received a very deep exposure to choral and sacred music. It was very, very rigorous training.” The choir also toured the United States and United Kingdom, and recorded several albums.
When he was 17 and 18, Cooper traveled extensively and began taking photographs, primarily of people, in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, England and Ireland. “I was beginning to understand humanity and the human condition. It gave me a sense of the global community.” In high school Timothy also learned to play guitar, but after hearing Ravi Shankar on sitar, Cooper began playing that instrument for several years. At age 19, Cooper began learning to play the piano, and from then on he has regularly practiced his improvisational creativity. Over the years Cooper has been inspired by acoustic-oriented musicians such as Keith Jarrett, Liz Story, Will Ackerman, Philip Aaberg and Suzanne Ciani.
Cooper also has a passion for film-making. One of the short films he created in high school was about the Spanish Inquisition (“man’s inhumanity to man”), and it won numerous national and international film awards. This led to Timothy being the youngest student (at age 18) ever accepted at that time to the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies in Los Angeles, which primarily offered a two-year upper-graduate program. There Cooper studied classic films, wrote scripts and shot videos for critiquing, and attended lectures by Steven Spielberg, David Lean and Martin Scorsese. After graduation, Cooper produced a feature film, “The Big Deal,” about the end of the Sixties.
East Wind was recorded as solo piano improvisational pieces without overdubs. “Some of the tracks begin with progressions or melodic motifs that I had played around with lightly on previous occasions, but had never fully explored. Other pieces were simply sudden musical expressions entirely created while I was recording them,” Cooper says.
“East Wind is about fresh winds blowing in the East, but it is also about a new worldwide call for action. It is about human liberation and freedom, renewal and resurgence, creating rather than destroying, and protecting our planet. The music reflects the need to build a true world civilization that utilizes the best of humanity’s spectacular creativity and energies to live up to the necessary mandate of caring for the underprivileged, eliminating poverty, educating everyone, defeating base tyranny and state-sponsored repression, ending all wars, and alleviating unnecessary human suffering. It is about humankind’s indomitable spirit and desire for a better world.”
Timothy Cooper Trying To Construct A Better World With His Music And Art