Hailed by the New York Times for his “sweet intensity” and “insinuating smoothness,” Michael Couper is active in the advancement of the saxophone repertoire to include music of our time, traditional music reinterpreted, and innovations in pop styles. Dr. Couper was a finalist for the 2015 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, a rare distinction among saxophone soloists. He is also a founding member of the critically-acclaimed Mimesis Ensemble, a group based in New York City that is dedicated to presenting works of poignant cultural significance, largely by living composers. As a soloist and chamber musician, he has performed internationally at major venues including the Seoul Arts Center, Miller Theater, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie Hall, among others. Under the pseudonym “Shrodinger's Sax,” Couper plays soprano saxophone with the musically acrobatic and genre-defying band SWARMIUS, described as a “sonic fusion of hip-hop and house-lounge-techno meets modern-classical.” He has performed concerti with the USC Thornton Symphony, the San Diego State University (SDSU) Symphony Orchestra, the SDSU Wind Ensemble, and the Swarmaphonic Orchestra, and is engaged in several new concerto projects for the 2016/2017 season, including one with Mohammed Fairouz. Partnering with saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, Dr. Couper co-founded a music publishing company, RCEditions (www.rceditions.com) that endeavors to enrich the repertoire of the modern saxophonist, offering as part of its catalog adaptations of historical masterworks as well as exciting new commissions.
Dr. Couper plays with the San Diego Symphony, and has also performed with the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the San Diego Opera, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, as well as several local orchestras in the Los Angeles area. He has given guest artist recitals and masterclasses at universities and conservatories around the country, including New England Conservatory, the Longy School of Music, Boston University, CSU Sacramento, and CSU Long Beach, among others. He is an active teacher and performer in the community, with recent faculty appointments at San Diego State University and CSU San Bernardino, and summer festivals including CSU Summer Arts, and the California State Summer School for the Arts. In November of 2011, he collaborated on a Grammy-nominated disc of chamber works on the Sono Luminous label, and has subsequently recorded with SWARMIUS and for the LA Operetta Foundation.
Dr. Couper earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts with distinction from the University of Southern California, his Master of Music from New England Conservatory, and his Bachelor of Music from San Diego State University, where he was the outstanding graduate for the School of Music, and the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award. His past teachers include Todd Rewoldt, Kenneth Radnofsky, James Rötter, and Douglas Masek for saxophone, Frank Ticheli, Malcolm Peyton, and Brent Dutton for composition, and Lucinda Carver and Larry Livingston for conducting. Dr. Couper is a Conn-Selmer Artist endorsing Yanagisawa saxophones.