Paul Salerni’s music “pulses with life, witty musical ideas and instrumental color” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), and has been described by the New York Times as “impressive” and “playful”. Henry Fogel (Fanfare) has said “It is…music that sings and dances.”
Salerni’s one-act opera Tony Caruso’s Final Broadcast, with a libretto by Dana Gioia, won the National Opera Association’s Chamber Opera competition. A definitive recording was released on Naxos in 2010. His second one-act, The Life and Love of Joe Coogan, is adapted from a Dick Van Dyke TV Show episode. The original screenplay was written by Carl Reiner and adapted by librettist Kate Light. The two operas are published by Presser.
Recent orchestral commissions include Cape Cod Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, the Allentown Symphony, and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra.
Salerni’s chamber music and songs are widely performed. Recent highlights included the premiere of Quartet 1.5 commissioned by the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta and the premiere of Something Permanent, a song cycle on poems by Cynthia Rylant and photographs by Walker Evans.
Two highly acclaimed CDs of Salerni’s songs and chamber music have appeared on the Albany Records label: “Touched” in 2015 and “Speaking of Love” in 2017.
Salerni is the NEH Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and Professor of Music at Lehigh University. Salerni received his Ph.D. in composition from Harvard, where he studied with Earl Kim. An avid exponent of the music of his teacher, Salerni has performed Kim’s music at the Kennedy Center, the 92nd St. Y, and the Aspen Music Festival. A dedicated educator, Salerni was the recipient of the Stabler Award, Lehigh University’s most valued acknowledgement of excellence in teaching. His service to the larger community includes seven years’ service on the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of the Americas with two years as its Chair.