David Owen Norris

David Owen Norris

Piano

• Born 1953

Biography

The pianist David Owen Norris has been active in an unusually wide variety of fields; as a pianist he has played concertos and solo recitals, and accompanied singers, and he is conversant with historical keyboard instruments. Norris is also a noted composer and educator, and he is a familiar figure on British radio and television as both a presenter and a guest.

Norris was born in 1953 in Long Buckby in Britain's Northamptonshire County. He attended Keble College at Oxford University as an organ scholar (a student employed as an assistant organist). After graduating from Oxford he studied composition, supporting himself as a rehearsal pianist at the Royal Opera House. He maintained his piano studies and early in his career served as an accompanist, working with a variety of top-level performers including soprano Dame Janet Baker and tenor Peter Pears. Norris scored a major breakthrough as a soloist when he won the inaugural Gilmore Artist Award at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1991. Since then, Norris has achieved notable success in the U.S., appearing with the Chicago and Detroit Symphony Orchestras among top ensembles. Norris' solo recitals have taken him around the world, with music of Brahms, Schubert, and Poulenc often featured. Norris has also played his own music; his output includes a piano concerto as well as a symphony, an oratorio, and two operas. He has made multiple appearances on the BBC2 television network, beginning in 1990 with the program The Real Thing?: Questions of Authenticity. Norris remains one of the few pianists equally active on a modern piano and on historical keyboard instruments. He has played very early piano concertos written in London around 1770 on a small square fortepiano of the era and, in 1984, made one of this first historically oriented recordings, with David Wilson-Johnson, of Schubert's song cycle Die Winterreise, D. 911. Norris' large recording catalog includes albums on Chandos, Hyperion, and many smaller labels. In 2019 he was heard on Hyperion's The Jupiter Project, a recording of keyboard arrangements of orchestral works by Mozart.

Norris is Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton and has also taught at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music.

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