CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The arts community will honor Grant Cooper, Larry Groce and Ellie Schaul at the Charleston Community Music Association's Arts Awards Gala, May 8 at Berry Hills Country Club.Grant Cooper has been artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra for 12 years. Prior to that, he was the resident conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and currently serves as artistic director of the annual Bach and Beyond Festival in Fredonia, N.Y.Cooper has composed many concert works, including the ballet "On the Appalachian Trail," which premiered in 2010 at Chautauqua. He recently completed a commission to write original film scores to two Charlie Chaplin movies and in 2012 composed a chamber work commissioned by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where it was performed.He is passionate about creating works designed to introduce young audiences to the orchestra and has created a substantial body of work for this purpose.Singer, songwriter and arts and entertainment producer Larry Groce was one of the creators of the 30-year-old West Virginia Public Radio live music program "Mountain Stage," where he continues to host and provide artistic direction.Groce is the executive director of FestivALL Charleston, a yearly 10-day celebration of the arts in Charleston. Groce has recorded 23 albums. His music ranges in style from singer-songwriter Americana to gospel to children's music.
His 1976 novelty song "Junk Food Junkie" became a national top-10 hit and generated articles in The New York Times, People magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and other national publications. He made television appearances on "The Tonight Show," "American Bandstand," "The Merv Griffin Show" and others.Groce's longtime involvement in the arts includes a 1980s stint owning and operating the Morgantown School of Ballet and part ownership of Graffiti, a statewide entertainment tabloid.Artist Ellie Schaul's work has been displayed in solo exhibitions at The Art Store, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, University of Charleston and West Virginia State College.Her invitational exhibits include pieces in the permanent collection of the West Virginia Culture Center and Clay Center and juried exhibits in the West Virginia State Museum; Huntington Museum of Art; Stifel Fine Arts Center, in Wheeling; and the Three Rivers Arts Festival, in Pittsburgh.The artists will receive honors at the Community Music Association Arts Awards Gala at 6 p.m. May 8 at Berry Hills Country Club. Tickets are $100 per person. Corporate sponsorships are available. Call 304-744-1400.Charleston Community Music Association has brought internationally acclaimed arts groups to perform at the Municipal Auditorium yearly since 1933.