Assistant Professor of Music History
Ph.D., University of North Texas
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 an opera 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 text-music relationships in twentieth-century opera and also Japanese noh theater in the twentieth century. His article on text-music relationships in the opera Gloriana has recently been published in Music & Letters (February 2011), and he is working on a book-length project on Benjamin Britten’s librettists.
Salfen is committed to making music history accessible and useful to a wide audience. He has written a music appreciation e-textbook, Pathways to Music (Preliminary Edition, Kendall-Hunt, 2010), designed to introduce music through five broader topics: ritual, emotion, work, art, and politics. He has 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, on the classical radio station WRR, and was the official blogger for the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.
In the spring of 2009 and 2010, Salfen organized residencies in Dallas for the international troupe Theatre Nohgaku, which introduced aspects of traditional Japanese theater arts to area campuses and the greater community. Salfen, who lived in Japan for almost two years, has also performed noh, playing noh flute and singing in the chorus for full productions of the classic noh Funa Benkei (Benkei on the Boat). He was recently elected to membership in Theatre Nohgaku. Salfen’s music has been performed in England, China, and throughout the U.S, and he continues to be an active composer. He is currently writing the music for “Icarus,” a noh-influenced collaboration with Central Washington University’s Elise Forier Edie and George Bellah, III, which is scheduled to premiere in 2012.