The Life and Legacy of Dr. Timothy Newton

SUNY Oneonta

Lara Murray-Sterzel, Editor-In-Chief

Oneonta says goodbye to another member of our community. Dr. Timothy Newton, a beloved music professor and conductor, tragically died last week. Dr. Newton worked at Oneonta for fourteen years in the Music Department and participated in many musical associations. His passing was unexpected, leaving his staff and students in disbelief. But his memory hasn’t been forgotten, Dr. Newton left a mark on this school which has inspired and keeps inspiring faculty in his field to pursue their dreams as well as possess a kind heart. 

Dr. Newton was also known for sharing his talents outside the school grounds. Throughout the years he partook in international tours with the London Philharmonia Chorus, a prestigious ensemble, where Dr. Newton received media attention and developed valuable connections. It was through these connections that Dr. Newton was able to arrange trips to London, England with a few students to teach further about the world of music. 

Dr. Joseph Pignato, Professor and Chair of the Music Department, described Dr. Newton as a gifted musician with many talents who really helped students become who they want to be and worked very hard in bringing out their best. Pignato said that Professor Newton really got to know the subject before teaching it to students. A skill driven from his love for the language of music. “I’d imagine it was in him from very, very young. But I got to know him when he came here as a faculty member. What I can say is in watching him perform music, teach music, and experience music when we would go together to watch student recitals there was a joy in him in response,” said Pignato. He said he’ll never forget his brilliant personality, their friendship, and the great dedication he had toward his work. 

Dr. Adam Kent, Associate Professor in the Music Department and dear friend of Dr. Newton, described him as someone who cared about people getting the recognition and appreciation they deserved through their work. “I think whenever he felt there was a kindred spirit, someone who shared his passion for music and music history, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. I’ve never really had a colleague like this who put other people ahead of himself,” said Kent. Dr. Newton served as Dr. Kent’s mentor back in 2016. Throughout their time together, Kent came to learn of Dr. Newton’s good and adventurous character. According to Dr. Kent, Dr. Newton was taking piloting lessons. He had even offered to take him up on an aerial tour of Otsego County.  

Gone but never forgotten, Dr. Newton truly touched our Oneonta community and it’s being seen to this day. Oneonta is celebrating and honoring his memory in many ways. Just last week the Division of Student Affairs hosted a memorial for staff and students to gather in the Fine Arts courtyard. Even after word of his passing, numerous students and alumni posted beautiful tributes to Dr. Newton on social media. Thank you, Dr. Timothy Newton. You will be missed.

1 Comment

  1. I remember the day in 2004 when Tim auditioned for the Philharmonia Chorus. We went to the pub after his audition, and we hit it off immediately. His first concert was a performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast in Cardiff on 17 July 2004, and, as he used to remind me, we sang next to each other. He was with us too in August of that year at the Edinburgh Festival for a concert performance of Der Freischütz conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. When he managed to fit a concert with us into his schedule, he generated so much enthusiasm and love for the shared experience of music-making that his presence made such a lasting impression. He was welcomed warmly every time when he arrived in our rehearsal room to take part in a project – everyone was delighted to see him.

    We began to see much more of Tim with the appointment in 2010 of Stefan Bevier, former double bass player in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Karajan and a pupil of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, as Chorus Master. Tim admired Stefan so much. It was at that point when Tim started to introduce his own selected students to the Chorus, using his teaching position to prepare them for the video audition, and for those that were accepted, providing them with performing opportunities that he knew they would never forget for the rest of their lives. That is what he gave to them. There is still a video clip on You Tube of part of a performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem in Valencia, with one of his students in the alto section in the middle of the screen. He brought three of his students to London where they took part in a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Jakub Hrůša in February 2020 at the Royal Festival Hall, just before we were all locked down. He jumped in to help us when we needed him. When Stefan fell ill just before the Rheingau Festival in 2017, Tim was there to take rehearsals in London, and to accompany the Chorus in a rehearsal in the Marktkirche in Wiesbaden just before a concert. The Chorus meant a lot to him, and he meant a lot to us.

    Timothy stayed in my house many times, and I stayed with him in Oneonta. His last visit was in the summer of 2022, to take part in Beethoven 9 at the BBC Proms. A few years earlier on one glorious summer’s day, when I had a second home in Devon, we walked along the South Devon Coastal Path from East Prawle to Gara Rock and back. Tim loved the spectacular scenery and the freshness of the air. I treasure that memory. We used to meet online regularly, every couple of weeks or so. Always engaging, always full of life, a feeling of time well spent. My life has been enormously enriched by his friendship.

    A tree will be planted in London in his memory.

    Richard Harding
    Chairman, Philharmonia Chorus

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