Isaac Cooper will perform alongside international peers.

Isaac Cooper realized one afternoon in late October that he had been accepted to participate in a proverbial once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: performing at Carnegie Hall.

Cooper will play alongside peer musicians from around the world in New York next month. A trumpet player, he currently plays in the concert band, orchestra and marching band at Reynolds High School.

“I’m just excited,” he said. “This is all a little surreal still.”

He’ll be joined in New York by his family, as well as Jonathan Hamiel, the band director at Reynolds, from Feb. 7-11.

“I haven’t registered it, I’m probably not going to register it until a week after the fact. But I’m just excited for it because it’s like nothing I’ve done before, and I just feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to grow as a player myself and as a person,” he said.

Cooper, who has played in band ensembles at the local, regional and national level before, sent in his audition for the 2019 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall while he was attending the Governor’s School in the summer.

“I ended up deciding (I) might as well just give it a shot and see what happens,” he said.

Cooper knew he was supposed to hear back by the end of October but when Halloween came without any word, he didn’t expect to make it.

But later that day, there was a message informing him of his selection to participate.

“I get home and it’s in my inbox, and I looked at it and I was like, ah that’s a joke, that’s a joke,” he said. “And yeah, that’s that — I got the email saying I got in, and I confirmed the next minute that I was going, and the rest was history.”

Cooper said this is easily one of, if not the, biggest musical opportunities of his young career. He said he sees this as a chance to not only rehearse and perform, but have broader discussions about the pieces and dig deep into them.

“That’s a question that sometimes you don’t get answered, ‘What exactly does the music mean?’” he said. “And that environment provides ample time to talk about not necessarily how to play the music, but what is the intention of the music.”

He said he looks forward to the opportunity to play alongside musicians from across the world and what he can learn from them.

But one of his biggest concerns is also what he looks forward to: the language barrier. Cooper sees music as a universal language that can be used to connect with anyone, regardless of where they’re from.

“Music will probably be the sole channel of communication for me and a bunch of kids there. And having that environment where I can’t communicate to you verbally but we can speak to each other musically, that’s nice because there’s this presumed barrier there,” he said. “But through music, I can communicate, and we can share thoughts like that.”

Hamiel, who is in his third year as band director at, said he wasn’t shocked at the news Cooper would get to play at Carnegie Hall, which to him only further validated the student’s talent and commitment.

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mbragg@wsjournal.com 336-727-7278 @braggmichaelc

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