Charles Cozens is an award winning, internationally aclaimed conductor, arranger, orchestrator, composer, music director, producer and pianist, who is equally skilled in many genres – classical, jazz, world music and more. He follows in the footsteps of such celebrated multi-talented greats like Gunther Shuller, Erich Kunzel, and Canada’s own Robert Farnon and Howard Cable.
Also an impresario, he embraces the vast arts industry, discovering and presenting new high-level artists.
Among Maestro Cozens’ career highlights have been a Command Performance for HRH Queen Elizabeth II as an arranger and composer for the Ontario Youth Concert Band (London, England, 1984); and as conductor for HRH Prince Philip and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards of members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Toronto, 2004).
He is also the Founder and Music Director of the Burlington New Millennium Orchestra BNMO (2016). BNMO is a professional world-class concert and recording orchestra that blends traditional acoustic instrumentation and electronic instrument technology and exotic Ethnic instruments. BNMO specializes in contemporary music including such genres as Pop, Broadway, Jazz, Rock, World Music and much more. Because of its unique design, BNMO redefines and advances the concept of the orchestral experience and is an exciting look to the future.
As Conductor and Music Director
Maestro Cozens studied conducting at Berklee College of Music in Boston USA with Professor George Monseur (Leopold Stokowsky, Leonard Bernstein, Leon Barzin). Further studies included two years of private instruction with Victor Feldbrill (Toronto Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Toho Gakuen School of Music, Japan), Dwight Bennett (Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Windsor Symphony, Royal Opera, Canada) and with Russian Conductor Konstantin Krimets (Moscow Symphony Orchestra).
Maestro Cozens has guest conducted in concert, many of Canada’s leading symphony orchestras coast to coast, including those of Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and Mississauga, Symphony Nova Scotia as well as the National Arts Centre Orchestra and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has also conducted and recorded in Russia with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Cinema Orchestra and members of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
His most recent guest conducting appearances have included the Winnipeg Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Regina Symphony, Victoria Symphony, and The National Arts Centre Orchestra.
In April 2013, Maestro Cozens made his Cuban debut, guest-conducting the Villa Clara Symphony Orchestra (Santa Clara Cuba), in a dazzling program of orchestral dance music that included two of his own original compositions, Czardahora and Celtic Fanatasia, and his tapestry of works by Astor Piazzolla entitled Homage A Piazzolla, for violin and orchestra. This concert has been deemed historic by the Cuban press and the CBC, as he is the first Canadian conductor in history to be invited to conduct in Cuba. Further to this, he also conducted concerts in Cuba in 2014 and is slated to conduct another concert and series of master classes in Santa Clara Cuba for November 2015 through 2018.
Maestro Cozens has conducted for many notable classical artists such as The Canadian Tenors, The Canadian Brass, Quartetto Gelato, Michael Guttman, Leslie Kinton and James Anagnoson, Erica Goodman, Michael Burgess, Mark Dubois, Gisele Fredette, Peter DeSotto, and many pop artists such as Elton John, Janelle Monae, Randy Bachman, The Nylons, Matt Dusk, Ryan and Dan, Serena Ryder, Lindi Ortega, and Andrea Menard to name a few.
Other conducting credits include numerous television and film soundtracks, CD recordings, and over 40 theatrical productions, among them Fiddler On The Roof, Beauty And The Beast, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Crazy For You, Anne Of Green Gables, Man Of LaMancha, and The King And I.
Maestro Cozens is recognized as an expert in orchestral conducting for the recording environment. Consequently, in January 2007, he was invited as a guest keynote speaker at the International Conductors Guild Conference in Toronto, lecturing on Conducting for the Recording Orchestra. This lecture was subsequently published in the Conductors Guild magazine, Podium Notes.
Recent collaborations include conducting, arrangements and orchestrations for The Canadian Tenors (Universal Music Canada), Eleanor McCain with David Foster, the Stratford Festival Orchestra (Richard Monette Gala); and the 25th and final presentation of Toronto’s Fashion Cares evening, with such stars as Sir Elton John and Grammy Award-winning singer Janelle Monáe.
As Composer and Arranger
“A second go-round of Swingstep leads to a greater appreciation of Cozens’s musical score. The composer has written pastiche songs in both swing and Celtic styles, as well as spoken melodrama and modern day ballads. In fact, because real swing-era songs are included in the score, Cozens’s achievement becomes more impressive as his own output holds its own.” – Paula Citron, the Globe and Mail
“The sheer thrill of sound that comes from brass can intoxicate. Cozens’ experience writing film scores and arrangements for swing bands was evident, as well as his fascination with new sounds, such as the toneless sighs and chuffs produced by brass instruments without mouthpieces.” – John Lehr, The Toronto Star
“Cozens’ hearty swinging of Bach’s Italian Concerto…was a hoot of dashing passage work and zinging blue notes…Even better was gorgeously woven jazz tapestry teased from the fabric of the Air On A G String that had the people next to me wondering where they could buy the CD.” – Hugh Fraser, the Hamilton Spectator (reviewing Clearly Classics Concerts)
Maestro Cozens’ theatrical works and Canadian cast recordings include The Three Musketeers (Stratford), Swingstep: The Musical (Silver Fox Productions), The Magic Of Love (North Waterloo Publishing), Showstoppers (Drayton Festival), and the Theatre Aquarius productions of Peter Pan, Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, and Glory Days.
A legendary arranger, Maestro Cozens has scored symphonic arrangements for a plethora of well known artists including Randy Bachman, Sir Elton John, Lindi Ortega, The Canadian Tenors, Guido Basso, Quartetto Gelato, The Canadian Brass, Louise Pitre, Michael Burgess, Del Barber, Chantal Krevasiuk, Matt Dusk, Serana Ryder, Michael Guttman, Michael Danso, Ryan and Dan, The Lytonians, The Lyptics, Eagle and Hawk, and Waking Eyes to name a few.
Other projects as a composer, orchestrator and conductor have included a new symphonic work for the 50th Anniversary of the Stratford Festival, in conjunction with Berthold Carrière; four new orchestral recordings in Moscow for Avalon Records; Angel Harp with Canadian harp virtuoso Erica Goodman; and arrangements for Quartetto Gelato, which the ensemble recorded on its CD, Quartetto Gelato Travels The Orient Express. He has penned a plethora of television and film scores, among them Tek Wars, Ray Bradbury Theatre, The Twilight Zone, At The Midnight Hour, Clarence, Christmas In America and The Long Road Home, plus more than 200 TV jingles.
Amongst Maestro Cozens’ more recent compositions are Tres Bailes Latinos (Three Latin Dances) (Orpheus Choir of Toronto), Suite for Children, for Guitar and String Orchestra (Jason Carter, Helsinki), Marionette Fandangle (Acclarion), Les Petites Danses Démoniques (Niagara International Chamber Music Festival), Botanicus (Hannaford Street Silver Band with Bramwell Tovey), and The Clown Of Venice (Quartetto Gelato). Violinist Michael Guttman premiered Cozens’ Celtic Fantasia and Czardahora (“fun and whimsical” – Regina Leader-Post), both for violin and orchestra, when Cozens conducted the Regina Symphony in November 2012.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has showcased him as arranger for JUNO Award winners Eagle and Hawk; the premiere of The Nylons’ symphonic pops show, Putting It Together, which he also conducted; and, over the last few years, the Indigenous Summer Music Festival.
Maestro Cozens is one of the most recorded arranger/composers in Canada with at least 200 CD recording projects to his credit for such record labels as Universal, Sony, CBC SM 5000, Avalon, Reflections and Solitudes.
Maestro Cozens holds the Established Performing Artist Award from the Mississauga Arts Council, and has also been nominated for the Dora Award (Most Outstanding Musical: Swingstep) and the Chalmers Award in Composition (Peter Pan: The Return). His 2006 album Balance was nominated for a JUNO Award for Instrumental Album of the Year.
As Performer – Piano and Accordion
An accomplished pianist and accordionist, Maestro Cozens has performed many recitals, both classical and jazz. He has also appeared in concert with such musical legends as Henry Mancini, Cab Calloway Eartha Kitt and Randy Bachman to name a few. Earlier in his career, he won the Canadian Open Accordion Championship in 1968 and again in 1969, and subsequently represented Canada in the Coupe Mondiale 1969 in New York City, where he placed among the world’s top 10 concert accordionists.
He also is co-founder and pianist of TWIST, a dynamic classical/jazz chamber ensemble with violin, clarinet and bass).
An Active Advocate for the Music Industry
The subject of many articles, reviews and journals, Mr. Cozens has also been a contributing author to Broadway North: The Dream Of A Canadian Musical Theatre (Mel Atkey) and Glory Days (Bill Freeman).
Always at the forefront of modern musical concepts in orchestration, conducting and orchestral recording, Maestro Cozens is currently working on a detailed book to share his substantial knowledge on the art of arranging and orchestration. He was invited to be a member of the Advisory Committee for the Music Degree Program of Humber College, Toronto, and was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Canadian Music Competitions (CMC Toronto). He has also been a consultant to Roland Music Corporation, among others. Maestro Cozens is also included in Worldwide Who’s Who.