Anita Anderson Cooper.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley Chorale recently announced the appointment of Anita Anderson Cooper as its music director/conductor.

She was the chorale’s interim conductor for the 2023-24 season.

Anderson Cooper started working the South Hadley Chorale last fall after their previous director left. A choir member asked if she could fill the spot

After the March concert concluded they asked her if she would apply for the permanent position and received it shortly after.

Anderson Cooper said, “I’m excited, I’m very excited. I loved working with them this past year. We had a great year together and I look forward to many more. I was thrilled when they asked if I would be interested in staying on as their permanent director.”

Anderson Cooper works as a professional musician, conductor, composer and teacher as well as a frequent soloist and guest conductor both locally and throughout the East Coast.

Anderson Cooper has been involved with chorale music in the area for a long time including serving as the choir director at Amherst Regional High School for 15 years and is currently a member of the faculty of the Paul Baird Middle School in Ludlow for the last seven years.

She conducts three choirs, teaches courses in general music, drama, piano and ukulele/guitar, directs, produces and accompanies the annual talent show and leads the singer/songwriting club.

Anderson Cooper talked about what she loves the most about conducting.

She said, “I love mixing the voices together and making chords. It’s really fun to work on vocal technique so that you can’t really tell where one person leaves off and the next person leads in so it’s a nice thick and beautiful choral sound that isn’t just one individual or all individuals singing together, it’s an entire sound all into itself. It’s really beautiful. It’s like my toy box. It’s fun to play with.”

Anderson Cooper received degrees from Westminster College, Boston University and Delta State University and has taught classes at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and at Smith College.

Her love for music and the performing arts led her to wanting to be able to teach others.

“I was a performer in New York before I moved to Western Massachusetts, and even when I was performing, I was always trying to find an outlet to teach. I worked at Manhattan School of music for a dozen years and I would go out on a tour and then I’d come back and take over teaching or sometimes I did children’s choir, I had a few church jobs. I would do handbell choirs and children’s choirs and adult choirs and all sorts of things,” Anderson Cooper added.

Her performing arts and musical journey has led her to directing the South Hadley Chorale.

The South Hadley Chorale is made up of 60 singers from 17 communities.

Rehearsals for its 40th season will begin in October and will continue through to its major concert in March 2025.

The program will be announced soon.

For more information, about the South Hadley Chorale, readers can visit southhadleychorale.org or call 413-533-3833.

As soon as the last concert ended, Cooper was at the piano the next day looking for pieces the chorale can do.
“I can’t wait to see what we come up with. We are having a board meeting soon and we will start to look at new music, my suggestion. It’s been really fun because not every piece fits ever choir so you have to tailor — I like to tailor my music to who I’m working with. Do you have a strong soprano section or a strong bass section and you find the music that works best for them.”

The South Hadley Chorale puts on a few performances throughout the year with its main concert taking place March 2025. They begin practicing in January.

Anderson Cooper said she is excited to get going with the group and begin working on pieces to perform.

Anderson Cooper said, “When you do that much repertoire, you need time to practice and it’s always seems like we don’t have quite enough time but somehow we get there and we just had a beautiful concert in March. You have to pick a piece that people are going to enjoy, that’s going to push them a little bit but is doable. You have to pick a piece that is going to sound good in the space you are planning to sing and you also have to pick a piece that you enjoy, that you love because you are going to work on it every single week for weeks and weeks.”

Although the practice and timing for such a large group can be difficult, Anderson Cooper wanted to give a shout out to the South Hadley Chorale for being dedicated.

“I look forward to this next year with South Hadley Chorale. I’ve had a wonderful time so far. The people are wonderful, the board is wonderful, our accompanist is wonderful, everyone is just really terrific. A really nice relationship is made when you are conducting and working together with a group. You all kind of grow together. It takes dedicated singers and the South Hadley Chorale singers are so dedicated. They show up for rehearsals even when the weather’s bad, even when they’re tired from work and they still come in and they still give their best and it’s a pleasure to work with them.”

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