Stephen Salters



Competition Winner

Born: April 26, 1970 (New Haven, CT)

Stephen Salters, baritone, was the winner of the 1999 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Vocal Competition. Passionate and impeccably articulated performances of a wide range of repertoire have won him acclaim throughout Europe, the UK, Asia, and the United States. He works regularly with leading conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano, Nicholas McGegan, Keith Lockhart, Ivor Bolton, Will Crutchfield, Leonard Slatkin, Hugh Wolff, Bobby McFerrin, Jane Glover, Jeff Tyzik, Julian Wachner and Martin Haselboeck.

On the opera stage with more than 30 roles, he excels equally in contemporary works and standard repertory. He received superlative praise in the role of the Minotaur in the world premiere of Philippe Fenelon's Les Rois for Opera National in Bordeaux, and when he created the title role in Elena Ruehr's Toussaint Before the Spirits for Opera Boston, The Boston Globe called his performance "Astounding…Salters is a fearless and exhaustingly honest performer and a thrilling singer."

Other career highlights include: concerts for children in Monacowith the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo; Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem, written for Mr. Salters by Ysaye Barnwell; the world premiere of Dan Sonenberg's The Summer King; Monteverdi's Orfeo in Orvieto, Italy; Shostakovich's The Nose; Weill's Rise and Fall of Mahagonny; and Britten's Peter Grimes at Tanglewood on the 50th anniversary of that work's U.S. premiere.

His recordings include Spirit: Are You There?, and several world premiere performances: William Bolcom's Billy in the Darbies, written for Mr. Salters and the Lark Quartet, and Elena Ruehr's Averno and Gospel Cha Cha.

Beginning August 1, 2023, Mr. Salters became a faculty member of the vocal department at the University of Tennessee in Nashville.

Excerpt from The New York Times review, November 11, 1999 (Stephen Salters NY debut, Naumburg concert)

Music Review; The Songs Must Go On, A Recitalist Determined

"A musical performer has to be, among many other things, a trouper, a lesson that Stephen Salters, a young baritone, has evidently learned early and well. At the end of his recital on Monday evening at Alice Tully Hall, presented by the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, Mr. Salters, speaking from the stage, noted in passing that he was fighting a cold...Still, he performed admirably within his means and with unfailing artistry.

The varied program was typical for a young performer trying to establish his versatility, and in that respect, too, it was successful.

(Mr. Salters's articulation conveyed most of the evening's texts in English, German and French with remarkable clarity to an ear ready to receive them, and seemed to do the same in Spanish, more foreign to that ear.)

It was in the boldest proclamations -- Handel's ''Honor and Arms,'' from ''Samson,'' and Julian Wachner's ''War Songs,'' an alternately atmospheric and hectoring setting of texts by Robert Frost, Wilfred Owen and Walt Whitman -- that Mr. Salters seemed to have more to offer than he was able to project on this occasion. Still, the Handel, particularly, showed a fine sense for the dramatic utterance.

In quieter material, Mr. Salters often proved melting, nowhere more so than in Xavier Montsalvatge's ''Cancion de Cuna Para Dormir a un Negrito'' (''Cradle Song for a Little Black Boy''), conveyed on an eloquent wisp of tone. The encore, ''Think on Me,'' was similarly effective.

In such excursions into the soul, Mr. Salters was sensitively supported by the pianist, Shiela Kibbe." - James R. Oestreich


1999 Vocal Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

No items found.

Naumburg Performances

No items found.

Recording Awards

No items found.

Social Media