Renowned Piano Professor Joins UT, Performs in Debut Recital Sunday

UT conducted a nationwide search to find a piano professor who was both a performance virtuoso and an acclaimed teacher.

In the end, they found Chih-Long Hu, the School of Music’s new Sandra G. Powell Endowed Professor of Piano, right here in Tennessee.

Hu, who spent the last ten years on the faculty of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, will make his recital debut in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, September 18. The event is free and open to the public.

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. James Powell,” said Jeffrey Pappas, director of the School of Music. “They continue to support our school in so many ways. Their legacy is strong and their impact will be everlasting. I can’t wait to hear the debut recital of the Sandra G. Powell Endowed Professor in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall.”

Hu’s recital will feature Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” works by Franz Liszt, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Hu’s own composition “Afterthought on Bach’s Goldberg Variations.” His composition is a modern presentation of variations inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach. Hu attempts to bridge the 300-year gap between Bach and the present, incorporating nineteenth century romantic, twentieth century ragtime, pop and jazz songs.

“It’s quite exciting every time you have the chance to play for people, but this recital will be especially exciting as it’s my first concert as a UT professor in a world-class facility on a new Steinway piano handpicked in Germany by UT faculty,” said Hu.

A native of Taiwan, Hu first came to the United States in 2003 to attend the University of Michigan. He graduated three years later with a doctoral degree in piano performance and a job offer in East Tennessee.

“I’m so fortunate to be in Tennessee,” said Hu. “I’ve been to so many places in the world—I travel a lot—but every time I come back to this area, I just feel so calm. I don’t want to leave this place.”

Music has always been his passion but hasn’t always driven his career path. Hu holds a bachelor’s degree from National Taiwan University in civil engineering, following in his father’s footsteps. His mother’s influence as a music teacher and choral director, however, won him over even while he was pursing that degree.

By day, his engineering projects would take him into tunnels to study how miles-long passageways were built using explosives; by night, he was performing in concert halls.

“It became clear that music was a path that I could pursue. I’m not very good at expressing myself, but in music, I feel so free and everything’s possible. Things I can’t say, I can express in music. Artistic expression makes my life more complete and made me realize that’s the path I was to pursue,” said Hu.

Hu has received honors in piano competitions in Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Japan, and the United States. He has performed as a concerto soloist, at recitals, and as a chamber musician. His performances have been broadcast across America on NPR and televised in Taiwan and Japan. He has released several critically acclaimed albums.

In addition, he was honored by the Tennessee Music Association as teacher of the year in 2014.

Hu’s goals for his career at UT are to help build a world-class music program and reach out to the community with the music, as well as continuing to develop as a musician.

“I really want to help the school to recruit talent from everywhere in the world. I have experience working with very talented students from all over the world. The wonderful thing about these students is not only their vibrancy, but also that they contribute to diversity. Music is never just about the sound or notes, it is a reflection of the culture and humanity. More diversity results in more culture, which results in more richness in our music.”

Hu has big plans for the upcoming year including a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York and a concert tour in Asia.

C O N T A C T:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)