Jonathan Arevalo Coo

1974 -

Jonathan Coo, a prize-winning concert pianist, has been praised for his artistic playing and innovative teaching as an educator in the Philippines, his native country. He has also written for publications and served as an editor.

Coo is a third-generation Seventh-day Adventist music educator and pianist, the grandson of Eliseo Paulino Arevalo, a pioneer SDA musician in the Philippines. Coo's mother, Corazon Arevalo Coo, a daughter of Elizeo, is an educator and pianist who was a music administrator and has taught music lessons for many years; his brother and sister, Victor and Cecilia, are well-known, highly praised performers on cello and violin respectively.

Jonathan began piano lessons at an early age under the tutelage of his mother and Tita Rose Villanueva-Rada. At age ten he was accepted as a student under Carmencita Guanzon Arambulo of the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt Makiling, a school for gifted students founded by former First Lady Imelda Marcos. As he completed his high school years, he was given the Outstanding Artist Award in Music and won the gold medal in the first Rosario Picazo Piano Competition in 1991.

Following graduation from PHSA, Coo attended La Sierra University, where he studied for a year under Kimo Smith before accepting a full scholarship to attend the music division of Harid Conservatory (now the Lynn University Conservatory of Music) in Florida. He completed a B.Mus. at the conservatory, studying under Richard Dowling and Roberta Rust.

He then enrolled at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, completing an M.Mus. in piano performance and literature in 1998. He also completed an M.Mus in theory and did additional work at the doctoral level. Coo was awarded the coveted Performer's Certificate by the Eastman School of Music and taught at the university's River Campus and the Hochstein Music School while residing in Rochester.

Upon his return to the Philippines in 2000, he taught in the music department at the Adventist University of the Philippines, where he held the rank of associate professor, was Officer in Charge, and is now a visiting professor. Coo then taught at the Philippines Women's University and Santa Isabel College.

Since 2003 he has been on the faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University Interdisciplinary Studies Department. Beginning in 2004 he has also been a member of the faculty at St. Paul University, Manila College of Music and the Performing Arts, where he coordinates the master's piano pedagogy and bachelor's piano accompanying programs as well as chamber music offerings.

As part of the 200th birth anniversary of Franz Lizt, Coo, a proponent of four-hand piano music, and Mary Ann Espina are currently promoting the composer's works in that genre. He and South African-Australian pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout won first prize in the Sigma Alpha Iota Piano Duet Competition in 1997 at Chatauqua, New York. He has also performed works for three pianos with Espina and Najib Ismail.

Coo completed an M.A. in Foreign Service, Diplomacy and Public Policy at the Lyceum of the Philippines and has served as cultural writer for the Manila Times and the Manila Bulletin. He is presently associate editor of Roots and Wings, a magazine for Filipino expatriates in Europe.

He is founder of the Adventist Philharmonic Orchestra Development Program in his country and has served on the board of of the Piano Teachers’ Guild of the Philippines and the Ibarang Arts Foundation. He frequently serves on juries of national music competitions and for those sponsored by the PTGP.

In October 2010, a concert produced by Roots and Wings was given in Oslo, Norway, which featured Filipino singers Armela Fortuna Widmer and Abdul Candao with Coo accompanying. It received rave reviews, the reviewer observing that "every note was like a drop of sorbet on a hot summer day, refreshing and entertaining." The reviewer also observed that "pianist Jonathan Coo was brilliant in his rendition of ‘Rondeau’ extrapolating the dynamism of his idol, Philippine National Artist Lucresia Kasilag to the nth degree.”


Sources: Information provided by Jonathan Coo and Cecilia Coo Cruz; other online sources. See related biographies of Eliseo Paulino Arevalo and Corazon Arevalo Coo.