Steven Copes


Violinist Steven Copes leads a diverse and enthusiastic musical life as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. He joined the SPCO as Concertmaster in 1998, and since then has led the orchestra from the chair in several highly acclaimed, eclectic programs. He also appears frequently as soloist with the SPCO, performing concerti by Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Hartmann, Hindemith, Kirchner, Korngold, Lutoslawski, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Piazzolla, Prokofiev, Schnittke and Weill. In addition, he has performed as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the Colorado Symphony, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in Boston, the Sao Paolo State Symphony, the Orlando Philharmonic and The Knights. 

A zealous advocate of the music of today, he gave the world premiere of George Tsontakis' Grammy-nominated Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003), which won the 2005 Grawemeyer award and has been recorded for KOCH Records, and also gave the NY premiere of Lutoslawski's Subito (1992) for Violin and Piano. In June of 2017 he gave the World Premiere of Pierre Jalbert's Violin Concerto with Thomas Zehetmair conducting the SPCO. He performed John Novacek's Four Rags with the composer on NPR's Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Other recent and upcoming solo engagements include the the Berg Chamber Concerto with pianist Kirill Gerstein at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Hartmann's Concerto Funebre with the SPCO, the Berg Violin Concerto with the Orlando Philharmonic and Eric Jacobsen, Frank Martin’s Polyptyque with Josh Weilerstein and the SPCO, and the Shostakovich Violin Concerto #1 with Scott Yoo and the Mexico City Philharmonic. 

An avid chamber musician, Copes has performed at festivals and concert series such as Aspen, Boston Chamber Music Society, Caramoor, Cartagena, Chamber Music Northwest, Chestnut Hill, La Jolla Summerfest, Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, Mainly Mozart, Marlboro, Moritzburg, Mozaic, Norfolk, Piccolo Spoleto, Salt Bay Chamberfest, Santa Fe, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Skaneateles, Styriarte, and at other festivals across the globe. He co-founded the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado as well as Accordo, a chamber music group in the Twin Cities, now in its 10th season.

A frequent guest Concertmaster, Copes has recorded and toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and performed in the same capacity with the Baltimore Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Houston Symphony, London Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony under conductors such as Haitink, Temirkanov, I. Fischer, Masur, Nezet-Seguin, Harding, Jurowski, Nelsons, and Tilson Thomas. 

A dedicated teacher as well, he has taught and coached at the Banff Centre in Canada, New World Symphony in Miami, Colorado College Summer Festival, East Carolina University, University of South Carolina, (Columbia), National Orchestral Institute in Maryland, Western Michigan University, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of Texas (Austin) and Roosevelt University in Chicago.

A native of Los Angeles, he holds degrees from The Curtis Institute and Juilliard, and his teachers include Robert Lipsett, Aaron Rosand, Robert Mann and Felix Galimir for chamber music. Copes performs on a violin made in 2014 by Brooklyn maker Samuel Zygmuntowicz, patterned after the 'Kreutzer' Stradivarius of 1727. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Anne, two daughters Ella and Isabelle, and Lucie, their Bernese Mountain dog.