By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
March 4, 2010
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The second time was a charm for Indiana State University music alumnus David Darling.
The 68-year-old cellist won a 2010 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for "Prayer for Compassion," the result of his 10-year collaboration with long time producer and friend Mickey Houlihan of Wind Over the Earth Records. This was Darling's second Grammy nomination, having been previously nominated in 2002 for his solo, self-produced CD, "Cello Blue."
Darling will return to Indiana State to perform March 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the University Hall Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.
The Grammy winner's musical career has solid roots in Indiana and public school music programs.
Darling, an Elkhart native, began piano lessons at age 5 and studying the cello at age 10. "I grew up in a musical family," he recalled, adding his siblings also displayed musical talent.
"My mother was a wonderful pianist and my father loved classical music. Our house was always full of music," Darling said, adding it was due to school music programs.
"Indiana has always had amazing school music programs," he said. "All of us were lucky to have wonderful teachers and a mother and father who appreciated music."
Darling can trace his love for the cello back to a school music program which introduced young students to musical instruments. As a student, Darling remembers learning about each instrument and listening to their sound.
"I immediately fell in love with the cello," he recalled. "I loved the dark, deep sound and its big size."
His passion for music developed throughout his school years. In high school, he was principal cellist in the orchestra, played tuba in the concert band, sang with the madrigal singers and acapella choir, and played baritone sax in the pep band. He organized his own jazz ensemble, playing double bass and alto saxophone.
Besides being a musician, Darling was an athlete -- participating in tennis and winning numerous state high school and college competitions.
He considers music and athletics to be two kindred disciplines.
"They take the same type of passion," Darling explained. "They both require intense coordination. The cello takes vigorous energy to play."
It was as a promising high school musician that he got his first taste of Indiana State.
"I attended summer music camps for a month at Indiana State," Darling recalled.
He eventually found his way to Indiana State as a student, thanks in part to his father.
"My father said I should go to Indiana State because I was a teacher," Darling said. "Indiana State had a wonderful reputation for training educators. And I could still be on the tennis team as well as participating in jazz band."
It was a decision he didn't regret, adding he became a well-rounded musician at Indiana State, branching out to play tuba in the marching band and in symphonic band.
"Had I gone to a conservatory, I would've had to stick to cello," he added.
While at Indiana State, Darling crossed paths with Joseph Gremelspacher, professor of music, and director of bands.
"All the students loved his character," Darling said. "He was a wonderful musician and teacher."
Darling has fond memories of one of his mentors at Indiana State, former music department chair Jim Barnes, who conducted the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. As a student, Darling played in the orchestra and was a conducting student of Barnes.
"It was a big deal for students to play with the Terre Haute Symphony," Darling added.
He received bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Indiana State University in 1963 and 1968. He taught four years in Evansville elementary and secondary schools before going to Western Kentucky University in 1969.
After his first year at Western Kentucky, Darling received a call from Paul Winter, whom he had heard play while a student at Indiana State.
"I went up to him afterwards and told him I loved his group and would like to audition if an opportunity came around," he recalled. "He called me up, out of the blue and hired me over the phone without hearing me play."
Darling spent the next eight years as a member of the Paul Winter Consort, which blended jazz, classical and world music with, at times, voices and sounds of nature. He retired from the Consort in 1978 to explore solo performance, teaching and recording.
The experience with Consort set Darling on his way.
"It was my start as a professional musician," Darling said. "I learned so much from Paul. You learn so much from being in a group because you are learning from others."
Since 1978, Darling has been active with "Music for People," an internationally recognized non-profit educational network he co-founded with Bonnie Insull, dedicated to teaching and fostering music improvisation as a means of creative self expression. In fact, the Indiana State alumnus conducts many of the workshops.
"Everyone should have the chance to be musical," Darling said. "It's not just for a select few."
His musical career has come full circle, extending to teaching children.
Since 1986, Darling has worked for Young Audiences, Inc. a National "Medal of the Arts" award-winning organization, dedicated to enriching childrens' lives by providing in-school programs in the form of workshops, artist residencies, and guest performances.
He has traveled extensively for more than 40 years enthusiastically encouraging all humans to explore their musical talents and creative abilities, performing at concert venues such as Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and Queen Victoria Hall.
For Darling, his music has taken him many places and has earned him great acclaim.
"From growing up in Elkhart, Indiana to where I am today has been an amazing journey," Darling explained. "It's such an honor that your colleagues would nominate you for a Grammy not once, but twice."
"I couldn't believe it the first time I was nominated," he added. "And I couldn't believe it when I won with Prayer for Compassion."
"So to Harold Hansborough, my colleagues at Lincoln Grade school to Paul Winter, Mickey Houlihan and Manfred Eicher who gave me a chance to record my music I say thank you."
Besides being a Grammy-winner, "Prayer for Compassion" holds a special place in Darling's heart.
Prayer is the result of a 10-year collaborative effort between Darling and Houlihan. During that decade, both men lost their mothers.
"There's a piece on the album that honors them," Darling said.
According to Darling, "Prayer for Compassion" is a musical call for worldwide peace and understanding. The work is dedicated to author, historian and activist Howard Zinn and Amy Goodman, the principal host of Democracy Now!, a public radio/television/internet news program.
"Especially to Howard Zinn for his historic honest and courageous work in telling the truth about how this country really began and of course all the work we still need to do to create equality for all, and to stop wars and to and promoting social agendas and planet earth awareness," Darling explained.
Darling, who resides in Goshen, Conn., creating music in his home studio, Camp David Recording Studios, is looking forward to returning to his alma mater.
"I drove through campus in 2007 as part of a cross-country driving tour," Darling said. "I'm looking forward to interacting with the faculty and students in March."
In addition to sharing his music, Darling will share pearls of wisdom he's learned as a musician and educator.
"Find your passion and follow it," Darling said, adding "Nothing is difficult and everything is experience."
Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, 812-237-3783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Darling, who won a 2010 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album, will return to Indiana State to perform in the University Hall Auditorium.