Coker, Wilson. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Composer Wilson William Coker was born on November 26, 1928 in Pinckneyville, Illinois. He married Donna Sue Cardwell on June 19, 1955. The couple had no children.
Coker published compositions, several articles on music theory, reviews, and a book entitled Music and Meaning: A Theoretical Introduction to Musical Aesthetics. His published compositions include Woodwind Quintet in Three Movements, Philharmonic Ode, Paean, Overture: With Bugle, Fife, and Drum, Lyric Statement for Orchestra, Declarative Essay for Orchestra, Concerto for Tenor-Bass Trombone and Symphonic Band, and Concertino for Bassoon and String Trio, all from the Theodore Presser Company. He also published The Dark Hills, a composition for mixed chorus and piano with Associated Music Publishers and Brass Quintet with the Contemporary Music Project.
Coker was educated at the St. Louis Institute of Music, where he received a Bachelor of Music, specializing in music theory in 1949. Two years later, he received a second B.M. in composition from Yale, followed by a Master of Music in 1954, also from Yale. In 1965, the University of Illinois awarded Coker's Doctor of Musical Arts.
Coker held a number of professional positions and received several honors during his career. In 1958, he entered his first academic position, as Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education at Hartwick College. From 1960-1962, he served as the Composer-In-Residence for the school district of Philadelphia through the Ford Foundation Young Composers Project, as well as a Guest Lecturer in Music at Swarthmore College for the spring of 1961. In 1962, he became the Assistant to the President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. He then taught at San Jose State University and California State University at Fresno, where he was a Professor of Music and served as the Department of Music Chairman. In 1975, he joined the staff of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale as a Professor of Music and served as the Director of the School of Music from 1975-1976.
He was a member of the American Society for Aesthetics; Society for Music Theory; American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; Society for Italic Handwriting; Pi Kappa Lambda; Phi Mu Alpha-Sinfonia; and the National Skeet Shooting Association.
Wilson Coker died at age 54 on August 26, 1982.
Coker, Wilson. Curriculum Vitae, 1979
J.R., "In Memorium of Wilson Coker," Perspectives of New Music (1981): 29