Emily Cooley

About the Piece

Instrumentation: Full Orchestra: 2222 2221 timp+2, strings
Duration: 4 min

Program Note:

Commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra and Teddy Abrams

Having not been to Louisville prior to the premiere of this piece, I have heard about but not experienced the spectacle of “Thunder Over Louisville”. The pictures and videos I have seen are awe-inspiring, and imagining firework displays was my programmatic inspiration for the piece. Also, in reflecting on the word “thunder,” I couldn’t help but think of my favorite lines from the R.E.M. song “Sweetness Follows”. The title is taken from those lines:

It’s these little things they can pull you under / live your live filled with joy and wonder /
I always knew this altogether thunder / was lost in our little lives

I would like to thank Jennifer Higdon and Chris Rogerson for their assistance with drafts of this piece.

Conductor’s Perspective

A really nice piece working well as a concert opener. It’s well orchestrated and isn’t too hard to play. Very effective use of standard techniques and a really fun piece to rehearse and to perform!

About the Composer

Emily Cooley is a Philadelphia-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music whose work has been described as “masterfully written and orchestrated” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and “a beautiful delicacy” (Vermont Today). Frequently in dialogue with works of contemporary fiction and critical theory, her music questions conventions of narrative, re-imagines emotional expression, and explores the dynamics of power and vulnerability. 

Cooley’s orchestral music has been performed by the Nashville, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Louisville, Milwaukee, Berkeley, Sioux City, and Eastern Connecticut symphony orchestras; the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra; and numerous university and conservatory orchestras. Her work Assemble, for multitrack cello, was recently recorded by Ashley Bathgate and will be released on Bathgate’s forthcoming album, 8 Track

Also active as a concert producer and curator, Cooley is a founding member and the current publicity director for Kettle Corn New Music, which produces a year-round series of new music concerts in New York City, hailed for creating “that ideal listening environment that so many institutions aim for: relaxed, yet allowing for concentration” (New York Times). Cooley is also a frequent collaborator with incarcerated musicians at SCI-Graterford in Pennsylvania, and she held the Community Artist Fellowship at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2017-18.

Born in 1990 in Milwaukee, WI, Cooley holds degrees from Yale University, the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music. She has been in residence at Yaddo, Copland House, and the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and a fellow at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and the Norfolk New Music Workshop. She is a recipient of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the ASCAP Morton Gould Award. Her mentors include John K. Boyle, Kathryn Alexander, Andrew Norman, Stephen Hartke, Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Mary Javian.

Performance Materials

● Score and parts can be obtained through the composer (click for email)


Recording on YouTube by the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra conducted by Chaowen Ting (in this performance there is no percussion session other than the timpani)