Fred Cohen’s compositions have been hailed for their originality, intensity, and sonic beauty. He began his musical career as a chorister with the San Francisco Boys Chorus, performing with such organizations as the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony. Following undergraduate studies at the University California, Santa Cruz, Cohen worked as a conductor with the Fundacion del Estado para la Orquesta National Juvenil (Venezuela), after which he earned his doctoral degree in composition at Cornell University. He has been a member of the music faculty at the University of Richmond (Virginia), Montclair State University (New Jersey), and the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.
Cohen’s output is extremely varied, from a Piano Concerto written in honor of a gift of 67 Steinway pianos to the Schwob School of Music, to Curls of Motion for trumpet and wind ensemble, premiered by Phil Smith, Principal Trumpet of the New York Philharmonic. He has been commissioned by the Shanghai String Quartet, the Borromeo String Quartet, the Richmond Symphony, and many other musicians and ensembles. Commissions have come from Chamber Music America, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the New Jersey and the Virginia Council for the Arts, and many others. His music is published by Subito Music Publications and American Composers Edition, among others. Cohen has served as a Visiting Team Chair for NASM since 2009, as board member of the American Composers Alliance, and as Treasurer of the Southeastern Composers League. Cohen is Professor of Music and Director of the School of Music and Dance at San José State University.
Dr. Cohen has served as founding Music Director and Conductor of the Cornell New Music Ensemble, CURRENTS (a professional new-music ensemble based in Richmond, Virginia); and as Music Director and Conductor of the University of Richmond Orchestra, the Montclair State University Orchestra, the Schwob School of Music Orchestra, and the SJSU Symphony Orchestra.