"His grasp of the structure of classical and romantic music, allied with a most formidable keyboard technique shows a talent quite out of the ordinary." Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
In 2012 Mark Hooper returned to his childhood city of Brisbane after 34 years abroad.
The first performance of classical music that Mark heard was when he was already a first year student at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. He had gained entrance to the Conservatorium with a scholarship through a chance meeting with a prominent musician who five years earlier, when Mark was 11, had selected him to play a solo in a concert for 'massed choirs' of school children at the Brisbane City Hall. Apart from piano lessons, Mark had no other contact with the performing or classical musical world.
Having enrolled at the Conservatorium to train as a school music teacher Mark changed to the 'performers' course after one year. His piano teachers were Dulcie Robertson and Leah Horowitz. At the end of his degree course Mark won a scholarship to enable him to study abroad. He was accepted into the Royal College of Music as a post-graduate in piano with Peter Wallfisch, harpsichord with Ruth Dyson and Dalcroze Eurythmics with Elizabeth Vanderspar.
"...a most mature, accomplished and impressive pianist and musician. His performance of Schumann's Kinderszenen was better than any I have heard in the concert hall, and everything he did was an object lesson in committed, true musicianship."
During his time at the Royal College of Music in London, Mark was a bursary student at the Piano Master Classes at the Dartington Music Summer School for the four years that Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was the Director. He performed with great success in the classes of Tamas Vasary, Mitsuko Uchida, Andre Tchaikovsky and Charles Rosen.
On a trip back to Australia Mark won the Australian National Bach Prize and after his time at the Royal College of Music was the first Australian and one of only two solo pianists living in Europe to be selected to participate in the prestigious Banff Winter Music Programme in Canada which he then represented on a concert tour of Eastern Canada.
"Wonderfully controlled playing and superb tone colour. There is so much imagination and variation in his playing - magnificent strength too - everything well controlled. A great joy to listen to. His exquisite tone is quite breathtaking..."
Dr. Eileen Joyce.
Mark has performed extensively throughout Australasia, Europe and Canada. In England Mark made his formal debut at London's Wigmore Hall, and performed at the Purcell Room, the Picadilly Festival, at Eton College and regularly in Oxford where he lived for 24 years and taught piano at Oxford University for his last 4 years there. St. Hilda's College Oxford have retained Mark as a Consultant for their ongoing education work. As well as recital performances Mark has performed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Saint Saens, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
"There was an ease and a thoughtful approach in Beethoven's op.110 Sonata, in which many of the problems were smoothly surmounted…. There was no mistaking Mr. Hooper's enthusiasm or his technical ability in a colourful account of Mussorgsky's, Pictures at an Exhibition."
David Money, The Daily Telegraph, London.
Mark has performed in concert with Yehudi Menuhin, Tamas Vasary, Peter Wallfisch and Zara Nelsova and recorded a performance for television shown throughout Europe, North America and Australia.
" ...here was a front rank performer in our midst. ...an outburst of pianistic splendour.... Mark Hooper can charm as well as astonish."
Robert Harris, The Richmond and Twickenham Times.
In recent years Mark has given lectures, master classes and recitals at Australian, Thai, Phillipino and German Universities with a particular emphasis on the psychological as well as the physical preparation of the performer. In 1995 Mark gave solo concerts in Berlin and Potsdam as part of a cultural festival celebrating Australian artists and their work. He was 'artist in residence' at Potsdam University for 4 years and gave Master Classes and a concert there. Mark's concert calender now includes a yearly trip to the UK for concerts and Master Classes. In 2014 Mark was appointed part-time lecturer in Piano Pedagogy at the Queensland Conservatorium/Griffithe University.
Mark performs regularly as chamber musician and soloist. He performs in a duo with English cellist Alison Kelly. In 1999 he performed the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with London violinist Gareth Griffiths. He has recorded four CDs, From Distant Lands, Beethoven's Moonlight, Pathetique and Appassionata Sonatas, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with Prokofieff's Visions Fugitives and Frank Bridge's Hour Glass Suite and Schubert's last piano sonata with Liszt's Benediction.
In 2014, Mark began lecturing in 'Piano Pedagogy' at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.