Photo © 2013 Cara Strever

Photo © 2013 Cara Strever

Cooper Ottum, composer

Cooper Ottum (b. 1990) is a composer from Beaverton, Oregon. Captured by music as a practice and an art form as a high school student, he began writing music as a way to understand the perspectives of different musicians that were, then, his teachers and colleagues. Cooper's current compositional goal is to strive to capture emotional subtlety, and to approach music as a distinctly human art form.

As a student at the University of Southern California, Cooper studied composition with Donald Crockett, Frank Ticheli, and Stephen Hartke, and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree in 2012. At USC, Cooper was honored with the Composition Department Award (2012) and with the Peter David Faith Endowed Award in Composition (2012). Cooper now studies composition at the University of Missouri - Kansas City with James Mobberley and Zhou Long.

Cooper's concert music has been performed throughout the west coast and his music for motion picture has been heard accompanying short films at various festivals throughout the United States. In addition, his work for marching band has been heard throughout Oregon and Washington performed for competition in the Northwest Marching Band Circuit.

Cooper has worked with Hillsboro Parks and Recreation, the Century High School Marching Band, and the Liberty High School Marching Band to make compositions and arrangements that enrich youth music education programs. His work for marching ensembles is available for viewing at Music for Use.

Sample Portfolio

A selection of works, some including program notes and recordings.

For scores, recordings, or to commission a new work, please get in touch


A flutter of modest aspiration

text by Genevieve Kaplan

for Guitar and Soprano, 2012, revised 2013

Listen (2012 version):


  • Alissa Corrao, Soprano
  • Jesse Freedman, Guitar

(live recording; Jeanette MacDonald Recital Hall, USC University Park Campus, Los Angeles, CA)

Lean Back

for B-flat Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, and Trombone, 2012

Lean Back is a playful theme and set of variations that presents my (admittedly bizarre) interpretation of jazz for three winds. 

There's something about the way music (and especially jazz) interacts with time that creates a weird sense of inevitability. Like, there's a pretty good chance that the thing you heard a second ago will happen again. But you don't know when, or how, or from which instrument, or within which context. 

This piece takes the above idea and tries to make it fun. 


(live recording)

Clarinet Quartet "among friends"

for four B-flat Clarinets, 2009

My musical upbringing was, in many ways, my social upbringing as well, and I think that I’m not alone in that regard. My wish is for this piece to be “about” having fun with musically inclined friends though performance. The audience can judge if the music is enjoyable to hear as well (I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out of the experience).

This work is dedicated to my former clarinet teacher and mentor Rich Briglia, who suggested the creation of this piece and unfortunately passed away in Fall of 2009. Rich was a very fine player with a passion for youth music education as well as the regional and global musical community. The music I wrote here is not about him, but it was written as something I feel he would have enjoyed playing.

Listen (excerpt):


  • Joe Morris, B-flat Clarinet 1
  • Brad Whitfield, B-flat Clarinet 2
  • Carmen Rizzo, B-flat Clarinet 3, Bass Clarinet
  • Ben Davis, B-flat Clarinet 4, Bass Clarinet

(live recording)

University of Southern California Senior Recital

Find more recordings and program notes on this page, from my 2012 Senior Recital. 

Curriculum Vitae and Chronological Works List

Download a Curriculum Vitae (PDF) — last updated 11/20/2014

Download a Chronological Works List (PDF) — last updated 1/20/2014