Skip to main content

David NorthingtonKNOXVILLE–University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Music professor David Northington says the music of his mentor Aaron Copland “put America on the musical map.” This season’s first College of Arts and Sciences Pregame Faculty Showcase, “A Musical Tribute to a Great American: Aaron Copland,” will be led by Northington and will focus on the composer and his work.

The showcase will take place Saturday, September 3, before the Vols’ home opener against the University of Montana. Featuring a thirty-minute presentation followed by a fifteen-minute question-and-answer session, each showcase is free and open to the public and held two hours before home game kickoffs in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center Room 213. Light refreshments are provided, and guests have a chance to win door prizes. Guests who complete a registration form receive a 10 percent discount coupon for game day purchases from the UT Bookstore.

The showcase will feature the works of the noted American composer as well as Northington’s commentary on his music and personal memories about his mentor.

“On a personal level, Mr. Copland was an inspiration and mentor to me, as I spent several days with him when I was 17 years old, including a day at his home in Peekskill, New York. As a result of these encounters, I have been a devotee of Copland’s music for most of my professional life,” said Northington, who teaches piano at UT and is an accomplished pianist himself.

Copland, whose life spanned the entire twentieth century, has been referred to as the “father of American musical composition.” Well-known for ballet and film scores in the 1930s and 1940s, also scored the films Of Mice and Men, based on the John Steinbeck novel, and The Heiress, which won the 1949 Academy Award for Original Music Score. Other notable works by Copland include ballets Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid and songs Fanfare for the Common Man and Lincoln Portrait, both considered well-known American morale boosters.

Northington is currently recording the complete piano works of Copland for Centaur Records. The first compact disc of a three-disc series was released in June.

Northington has been called by the New York Times “an immensely gifted musician…who combines the technical mastery of a virtuoso with the musical sensitivity of a poet.” Named Tennessee Arts Commission Artist of the Year and selected to the Artistic Ambassador Program sponsored by the US Information Agency, Northington has performed concerts and concerto engagements throughout the United States as well as in eastern and western Europe, Canada, China, and Russia. His music has been broadcast throughout Europe on the Voice of America, and he has filmed recitals for telecast on French National Television. Recently, he was invited to perform a two-week residency at Shandong University in Wei Hai, China. Northington has also given master classes in leading music conservatories throughout the world.

Northington has received first prizes in the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the East/West Artists Competition, and the American Music Scholarship Association’s International Competition, as well as the unanimous Judges Prize at the Fourth Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, the Phi Kappa Phi 2010 triennial National Artist Award, the Tennessee Music Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year Award, and the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts Outstanding Teacher Award.

The rest of the showcase lineup includes:

  • September 10—Greg Kaplan, professor and interim department head of modern foreign languages and literatures, presents “Christian Pilgrimages and Cave Churches in Medieval Spain,” detailing the Way of St. James, an ancient pilgrimage route in northern Spain that continues to draw many thousands of pilgrims each year.
  • October 1—Gladys Alexandre, associate professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, presents “Research of the Microbial Kind,” discussing how microbes “think” and her research which seeks to characterize, at the molecular level, the strategies used by bacteria to adapt to changes in their surroundings.
  • October 8—Jered Sprecher, School of Art associate professor, presents “An Exploration of Humanity through Abstract Painting” and will share work of his own and others, as well as examine how commonplace objects can inspire and influence works of art.
  • October 15—Michael Best, associate professor of chemistry, presents “Bioorganic Chemistry: Advancing the Frontiers of Medicine.” His research involves the design and synthesis of organic molecules, which can be used to understand biological processes relevant to disease. One aspect of his research is geared to the making of enzyme inhibitors, which are used in an array of applications in modern medicine, including the development of new drugs to treat various diseases.
  • October 29—Tom Burman, department head and professor of history, presents “Christians’ Reactions to the Koran in History.” His remarks will provide an overview of Christian-Muslim relations throughout the ages, drawing from his scholarly work which focuses on the intellectual and religious interactions between Latin Christendom and Arab Islam, especially as these can be seen in the transition and circulation of Arabic works in medieval and early-modern Europe.
  • November 5—Casey Sams, associate professor of theater, will present “Creating Choreography for the Clarence Brown Stage,” as she examines the role of a choreographer in theatrical production, using examples from two of this fall’s Clarence Brown Theatre productions.
  • November 19—Michael Knight, professor of English, presents “The Typist: An Author’s Translation of History Into Fiction,” talking about his inspiration for and the writing of his novel about an American soldier working as a typist in General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in post-war Tokyo.

The Pregame Showcase is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences. Sponsorship is also provided by WUOT 91.9 FM, with support from the UT Knoxville Office of Alumni Affairs and UT Athletics. For more information, visit

C O N T A C T :

Beth Gladden (865-974-9008,