Kevin Salfen took his first two degrees in composition and his Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of North Texas. His Master’s thesis was a one-act opera (Paintings and Palaces) about an artist in a fast food restaurant, and his dissertation concerned the early collaborations of Benjamin Britten and writer William Plomer. Major research interests include twentieth-century British music and Japanese noh theater. His article on text-music relationships in the opera Gloriana was published in Music & Letters (February 2011), and he is working on a book-length project on Benjamin Britten’s librettists. He has presented papers at numerous academic conferences and is currently the Southwest Chapter Representative to the American Musicological Society.
Salfen is committed to making music history accessible and useful. He has written a music appreciation e-textbook, Pathways to Music (Preliminary Edition, Kendall-Hunt, 2010), designed to introduce music through five themes: ritual, emotion, work, art, and politics. He has written program notes for Dallas Chamber Music and the San Antonio International Piano Competition Piano Series. He has also given many pre-performance talks and panel discussions for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the DSO’s Greenville series, the Dallas Opera, and for the Nasher Sculpture Center’s chamber music series. He has been featured on the Dallas Opera’s YouTube channel and on the classical radio station WRR, and he was the official blogger for the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.
In 2009 and 2010, Salfen, who lived in Japan for almost two years, organized residencies in Dallas for the international troupe Theatre Nohgaku. These residencies introduced aspects of traditional Japanese theater arts to Dallas campuses and the greater community. Salfen became a member of Theatre Nohgaku in 2011 and is now Secretary of the troupe and Editor of its newsletter, In the Noh. He has also performed noh, playing noh flute and singing in the chorus for a production of the classic noh Funa Benkei (Benkei on the Boat) and performing the wakitsure role in the classic noh Astumori.
Salfen’s music has been performed in England, China, and throughout the U.S, and he continues to be an active composer. He was a finalist for the ASCAP Young Composer Award (Paintings and Palaces) and received a special award for composition from the American College Theater Festival for his score for a production of Euripides’ Medea. The noh-influenced theater piece Icarus, for which Salfen wrote the music (to a libretto by Elise Forier-Edie), premiered in Ellensburg, Washington in 2012. It was also performed at the 2012 Asian Studies Development Program National Conference in Seattle and at the 2013 Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. His settings of three poems by Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio’s Poet Laureate, were recently performed as part of a concert in her honor.