Peter Elwood McCoppin, conductor, organist (born 2 May 1948 in Toronto, ON). Peter McCoppin is an energetic and sensitive conductor and musician who has conducted orchestras around the world. He is particularly at home with orchestral-choral repertoire of the 19th-century, and has voiced a commitment “to discover, nurture, and promote Canadian talent and to perform contemporary Canadian music.” He is also a successful corporate leadership coach.
Early Years and Education
McCoppin gained his early musical experience at Toronto’s St. Clement's Church (where John Sidgwick was organist), and studied organ with Douglas Elliott (1966–68) and Frederick Geoghegan (1968–69). He became a member of the Festival Singers in 1970, the same year he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto. He was organist and choirmaster at St. George's Church (1970–72) and recorded the LP Joybreak (Vintage SCV-126) with its choir. Between 1968 and 1972 he also gave organ recitals, some of which were broadcast on CBC Radio. With support from the Canada Council and the Gulbenkian and McLean foundations, he studied conducting with Erich Leinsdorf in 1972 and worked with the Szell Library in Cleveland.
After studying conducting with Lovro von Matičič in Dubrovnik (1974) and Hans Swarowsky in Vienna (1974–75), McCoppin became head of the orchestral program and professor of conducting at the Cleveland Institute (1975–78). He then served as assistant conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (1978–80), and shared conducting duties with Timothy Vernon on a 1979 tour with the Canadian Opera Company (COC). Between 1980 and 1988, he was a guest conductor at the National Arts Centre, for the Alberta Ballet Company, and with orchestras in Calgary, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Victoria. He also hosted a number of programs on CBC Radio (1981–86) and the Classic Theatre TV series on British Columbia’s Knowledge Network.
On 27 January 1988, McCoppin was appointed music adviser and conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and conducted 43 different programs that year. He was named its principal guest conductor in 1989 while also serving as music director and conductor of the Victoria Symphony, and principal guest conductor of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted concerts with the two largest orchestras in China (in Shanghai and Beijing), and appeared in Japan with the Tokyo and Sapporo Symphony Orchestras. In 1990, he conducted in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul and Mexico City, and was appointed principal guest conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
McCoppin conducted the premiere of Malcolm Forsyth’s Concerto for piano and orchestra (with Helmut Brauss in Edmonton in 1979), as well as premieres by Harold Weaver and Rosemary Silversteen (with the Victoria Symphony in 1990). Since 2001, he has enjoyed a successful second career as a keynote speaker and coach for speech writing and public speaking at the corporate level.