Dr. Anthony Kooiker, a gifted pianist who was retired from the Hope College music faculty after a 37-year career at the college, died on Thursday, Oct. 18, at age 87.
Kooiker, who was living in Orange City, Iowa, was a member of the Hope faculty from 1950 until retiring in 1987. His service to the college's music program included helping to build the theory and piano departments, and developing the holdings of the music library, in addition to chairing the department of music from 1973 to 1977.
In 1951, with colleague Jantina Holleman, he helped reorganize the college's Christmas Vespers program, which had started in 1941, into the form in which it continues today as one of the college's most beloved and popular traditional events. Interest in the event is so high that the college has scheduled four services each year for several years, regularly drawing a capacity audience to Dimnent Memorial Chapel for each. This year's Christmas Vespers services will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2.
Kooiker directed the college's Women's Choir for 20 years, and was an active performer in West Michigan throughout his time at Hope, appearing regularly in solo and faculty chamber music concerts. In addition to his work at the college, he taught piano students of all ages from throughout the greater Holland area.
His former home in Holland originally stood on 12th Street the site of the college's A. Paul Schaap Science Center. Hope moved the house in 2002 to 14th Street, where it now serves the college in his name as Kooiker Cottage, a student residence.
Kooiker was born in Hull, Iowa, on May 22, 1920. He completed his Bachelor of Music degree from NorthwesternUniversity in 1942, and his Master of Music and doctorate in musicology from The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in 1944 and 1962 respectively. He also trained in New York City with Carl Friedberg and in Paris with Georges Enesco.
In the early years of World War II, he played for the USO at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. After completing his master's degree he taught at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and subsequently toured for nearly four years as piano accompanist with acclaimed concert violinist Albert Spalding. He joined the Hope faculty upon Spalding's retirement.
As an accompanist Kooiker had performed in both Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City, and he made his solo debut at Town Hall in 1954. His experiences performing abroad included lecture-recitals on American piano music in various music academies in the former Yugoslavia in 1979 at the invitation of the U.S. Information Service and the Embassy in Sarajevo. He and Spalding had made recordings together, and in 1986 he was featured on a solo album performing work by Rachmaninoff and Debussy, an opportunity that followed a concert tour he conducted in the Netherlands.
Kooiker was active in professional organizations. He chaired the Board of Certification for the Michigan Music Teachers Association for four years, and lectured extensively at MMTA conventions and at Piano Forums throughout the state. For many years he was also a judge for the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association and for the prestigious Grinnell Piano Competition.
Among other honors, in 1964 he received the college's Den Uyl Award for his outstanding contributions as a teacher. In 1968 he was chosen "Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs in recognition of his contributions to the educational and cultural life of the community and state. He was named "Teacher of the Year" by the Holland Piano Forum in 1982.
A scholar of early keyboard literature, Kooiker edited a collection of Restoration-period pieces titled "Melothesia" (Pennsylvania State University Press). He was editor of "The Handbook for Piano Teachers" used by MMTA members. His articles and book reviews appeared in publications including "The Journal of Research in Music Education" and "The Journal of the American Liszt Society."
There will be a funeral service on Monday, Oct. 22, at 1:30 p.m., at the First Reformed Church Chapel in Orange City. The Rev. David Ter Beest will officiate. There will be a graveside service on Monday, at about 3:30 p.m., at the Hope Cemetery in Hull, Iowa. Visitation with the family will be the hour before the service on Monday at the church. Arrangements are with the Oolman Funeral Home in Orange City.