News and Events

Music History Professor Featured at Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Performance Prelude Series

Dr. Kevin Salfen reaches audience through knowledge and enthusiasm

Dr. Kevin Salfen, visiting professor of music history at Meadows School of the Arts, is a presenter for the Performance Prelude series at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Performance Preludes are informal presentations offered by the DSO Guild before every classical concert, and feature knowledgeable guest speakers who give informative and entertaining talks on the works to be performed.

There are no strict guidelines for the hour-long Performance Preludes, so speakers can add their own spark to the presentations. Jamie Allen, director of education for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, said he originally hired Dr. Salfen in 2007 because “there’s something in the way he speaks about the music: his love for it is palatable, his knowledge of music is very deep, and he is able to combine that love and knowledge in a way that engages a wide variety of listeners.” Allen added, “The biggest challenge for a Performance Prelude presenter is being equally interesting to everyone. It takes a lot of experience, and he obviously has that experience.”

Dr. Salfen says his purpose during Performance Preludes is to help people learn to listen better. He wants everyone who attends the talks to leave more aware of the timbre, melody and form of the pieces they are about to experience. “My goal is to put myself out of a job,” Dr. Salfen says. “I want the people who go to the performances to become expert listeners, so that they can apply the concepts they learn in the Preludes to music they encounter anywhere.”

The majority of attendees at Performance Preludes have been subscribers for two or more seasons, though some people attend the Preludes during their first visit to the Dallas Symphony. Expectations of the Preludes include musical analysis and explanation, information on the composer as well as the historical context of the pieces, and audio/visual aids. Dr. Salfen believes that sharing this information with people is all to the good. “Going to a Performance Prelude should never diminish the experience of listening to the music,” he said. “Instead, it should enrich the experience by suggesting new dimensions to the music that the audience may not have perceived before.”

Dr. Salfen’s next Performance Prelude is titled “Merry Strauss” and will take place April 28 – May 1. For more information, visit http://www.dallassymphony.com/.

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