After almost forty years of teaching at the University of Tennessee, Professor David Northington will retire at the end of the 2015–16 academic year. He will celebrate by performing a tribute to Chopin at one of his final concerts on Sunday.
Northington will present “A Waltz Through the Life of Chopin” at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall at UT’s Natalie L. Haslam Music Center. It is free and open to the public.
“The performance will explore Chopin’s life through his waltzes, with related commentary to significant events and persons in his life, his joys, and his sorrows,” Northington said.
Northington said he thinks punctuating the concert with historical anecdotes about Chopin’s life will help the audience enjoy and appreciate the waltzes even more.
While Northington has played at concert halls in more than thirteen countries around the world, he’s really looking forward to this concert.
“It’s very sentimental for me to play here, at UT, in front of my students. I have so many people, not only university friends and colleagues, but also people in town and wonderful supporters who have attended my concerts throughout the years,” he said. “To be able to play for these friends and people is the most special of all.”
Northington started playing piano at the age of six. His parents always told him that he was a performer and he grew up surrounded by music. His mother was a pianist, his father was a jazz musician who played the saxophone and clarinet, and his uncles all played instruments as well.
“That, combined with my entertaining nature, led me to play the piano,” Northington said.
He discovered his real passion for piano, though, after attending the first Georgia Governor’s Honors Program following his junior year of high school.
Northington has won top honors in the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the East/West Artists Competition, the American Music Scholarship Association’s International Piano Competition, and the Fourth Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition.
After being selected as an Artistic Ambassador for the United States in 1985, Northington toured extensively in France, Spain, and Portugal. He has played four concert tours and taught master classes in leading conservatories in China.
His teaching awards include the Tennessee Music Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year Award and the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts’ Outstanding Teacher Award.
When Northington came to UT in 1978, he and his wife did not know they would be here until he retired.
“We fell in love with East Tennessee and its rolling hills, the beauty, and the four seasons, none of them too harsh. We had been in Michigan; New Haven, Connecticut; upper state Connecticut; and Massachusetts. We had experienced a lot of severe weather in those locations,” Northington said.
The Northingtons’ two children, both born in Tennessee, are now UT graduates.
“Teaching has allowed me to share my enthusiasm and energy for music and the piano with many students over the years,” he said. “It has also enabled me to grow enormously as a musician and an artist because we learn a lot more from our students than they do from us.”
“There’s no question that I’m going to miss the energy that I get from my students. They energize me, they innovate me and they make me feel probably ten years younger.”
For more information about the concert, visit music.utk.edu/events.
For more information about David Northington, visit davidnorthington.com.
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