John Cooper is an Athens-based Violist and Multi-instrumentalist and currently holds the Principal Viola position for both the Athens Symphony and Toccoa Symphony Orchestras. He is the current violinist and violist of Athens Tango Project, the second electric guitarist of Jet Engine Dragons, alongside Dr. Corey Flowers, and multi-instrumentalist of the local Celtic/Bluegrass group Candle Hill Lions. John is also a recording engineer, producer, arranger, luthier, and is a live sound technician for the Morton Theater.
John first started on the violin at age 10, but later transitioned to play the viola. At age 16, he began taking lessons with Elizabeth Derderian Wood, Assistant Principal Viola of the Atlanta Opera. By 18, John would become Principal Viola of the GMEA All-State Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. He would then go on to study with Bill Johnston (Atlanta Opera) and perform with the Georgia Philharmonic Orchestra.
John is an alumnus of the University of Georgia School of Music. During his time at UGA, he studied with Professor Maggie Snyder and performed in several masterclasses with renowned violists such as Jacob Adams, Elias Goldstein, Ivo Van Der Werff, Daphne Gerling, and Hillary Herndon. He was nominated Co-principal viola of the UGA Symphony during his sophomore year, and was a finalist in the 2018 concerto competition. During his time at UGA, John also studied music education, was a strings teacher for the UGA String Project program, and was nominated as Vice President of UGA’s ASTA program.
In further pursuit of chamber music and orchestral studies, John attended both Franklin Pond Chamber Music and the Brevard Summer Music Festival for two summers. He studied with Dr. Scott Rawls and Maggie Snyder throughout his summers at Brevard, and was coached by several Atlanta Symphony musicians during his time at Franklin Pond Chamber Music. He attended and participated in several masterclasses with artists such as Robert Spano, Ivo Van Der Werff, Janet Horvath, and Roberto Diaz.
John has recorded and performed with many notable artists such as Kishi Bashi, Pylon Re-enactment Society, Olivia Tremor Control, Abbey Road LIVE, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and several others throughout his career. He currently plays violin and viola with Athens Tango Project, and their work has been featured on radio stations and tango playlists in several countries. Athens Tango Project also made an appearance in the Athens music documentary, Athens Rising: The Sicyon Project. He went on to be the tango violinist and live sound engineer for the Alejandro Zeigler Quartet for two consecutive international North American tours.