In the spring of 2013 while in her voice studio at U.Mass. Boston, Jessica Cooper wrote performance notes for her student on Purcell's famous air, "When I am laid in earth..." The haunting lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas was an appropriate choice for her young student, challenging in its technical demands but in English so that the meaning and text could be easily assimilated. Her student (Emily Chapman) informed Jessica that she was in fact already familiar with Henry Purcell. Lighting up, she told an anecdote about how her uncle loved the composer so much that he preferred to display a painted portrait of the composer in his foyer rather than his family photos! (see left) A lively conversation ensued about Henry Purcell, Baroque music and funny family gatherings. Emily introduced Jessica to her uncle Bill, and over a few short months, they became professional complements, uniting to organize both artistically producing their first concert, and officially as an entity. In 2014, paperwork was submitted for 501(C)(3) status.
The inaugural concert, “Welcome to all the Pleasures,” attracted a full house, with a reception to follow for the musicians and audience members. In its first critical review, the Henry Purcell Society of Boston was said to have “presented a smash-bang debut” to a "packed house," and that audiences should “keep an ear out for this new ensemble.”(Boston Music Intelligencer). Since then, the HPSOB has established itself amongst Boston musicians and has attracted a wider audience.
Thus, the dedication to the legacy of Henry Purcell gained momentum and formed its own organization with a mission to celebrate his many underperformed works. With new supporters, audiences and performers invigorated by the music of Britain's great composer, the Henry Purcell Society of Boston looks ahead to a vibrant future full of music celebrating the English Baroque.
Founders/ Artistic Director
Jessica Cooper (co-founder, Artistic Director) teaches applied voice at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), and has regularly appeared as a soloist in New England groups. In her debut Boston performance of Handel's "Samson," she was hailed as "a welcome addition to Boston's top rank of Handel sopranos," with a soprano voice that "was agile, attractive and full of character." (Boston Globe) Performing repertoire ranging from Renaissance and Baroque to Classical and New Music, Ms. Cooper has appeared as a soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society, the Boston Cecilia, Emmanuel Music, Exsultemus Period Ensemble, the Newton, Wellesley, and Nashua Symphony orchestras, La Jolla Symphony and chorus, and the Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared live in recital on 89.7 WGBH radio to perform arrangements of Astor Piazzolla's vocal tangos. Jessica was a finalist in the New England Regional Metropolitan National Council for Auditions for two years in a row, and was a first place winner of the National Association of the Teachers of Singing National Competition.
William Chapman (co-founder) is an attorney with Melick and Porter law firm in Boston, where he has been practicing law since 1988. His father, Dave Chapman, was a highly regarded Big Band saxophone player who played with top tier groups such as Herb Pomeroy and Artie Shaw. A self-proclaimed Purcellian, Chapman describes Purcell’s music as “always textured, touching, deep, and beautiful.”