Assistant Professor of Voice
“Not only does he sound like God on a good day, but he’s intensely imaginative and adventurous, navigating repertoire that make most singers creep into the wings and weep.” – The Washington Post
Known as a consummate artist, baritone Stephen Salters has performed throughout Europe, Africa, the United Kingdom, Asia & the USA. Most recent successes include Mahler’s Das Lied Von der Erde & Mahler Songs and the Brahms Requiem in New York City. In Boston, he created the title role in Elena Ruehr’s tour de force dance opera Toussaint Before the Spirits for Opera Boston. Recent seasons include performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and Wagner’s Rienzi and Walton’s The Bear with Boston’s Odyssey Opera, Phillip Glass’ Symphony #5 at the Kennedy Center & New York City’s Trinity Church, Elena Ruehr’s opera Crafting The Bonds in Boston, and an historic sesquicentennial vocal recital honoring Harry T. Burleigh @ Skidmore College, NY and his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic with conductor Alan Gilbert.
Mr. Salters most recently performed the lead in Gounod’s opera Le Médecin malgré lui with recitatives by Erik Satie to critical acclaim and Julian Wachner’s Epistle Mass in New York City. Other noteworthy career highlights include concerts for children in Monaco with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo; The Cleveland Orchestra; Orchestra of St. Luke’s; Minnesota Orchestra; the symphonies of Houston & San Francisco; appearing in many American & European festivals; Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem, written for Mr. Salters by Ysaye Barnwell; the World Premiere of Dan Sonenberg’s The Summer King; the World Premiere of Philippe Fenelon’s Les Rois for Opera National in Bordeaux; Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Orvieto, Italy; Shostakovich’s The Nose; Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; Gluck’s Alceste; Mozart’s Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Così fan tutte; Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore; Handel’s Alcina and Guilio Cesare; Rossini’s La Cenerentola; Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci; and Britten’s Peter Grimes at Tanglewood on the 50th anniversary of that work’s U.S. Premiere. Mr. Salters has sung over 40 operatic roles excelling equally in contemporary works and standard repertory with many of the world’s great stage directors – highlights include appearing with the National Opera of Paris, Opéra de Nice, Opéra de Rennes, Opéra du Rhin and the Opéra de Tour in a range of productions that include Alfredo Arias’s production of Carmen, Nicholas Hytner’s Giulio Cesare, Olivier Py’s Der Freischutz, and both Francesca Zambello’s and Colin Graham’s Billy Budd, Alain Garichot’s Penelope, Robert Wilson’s Madame Butterfly, Stein Winge’s and Gunther Kramer’s Tristan und Isolde and Dominique Pitoiset’s Don Giovanni.
Mr. Salters has demonstrated his versatility on the concert stage in such diverse works as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion to Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 to Wachner’s Epistle Mass. In the past couple of seasons alone, he was seen in several performances of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer & Kindertotenlieder; Copland’s Old American Songs; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Vaughan – Williams’ Sea Symphony, Dona Nobis Pacem, Hodie, & Five Mystical Songs; Haydn’s Mass in a Time of War; Britten’s War Requiem; Mendelssohn’s Elijah & Paulus; a concert performance of Der Freischutz; Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater; Zemlinsky’s Symphonic Songs; the Brahms Requiem; and Handel’s Messiah. He has appeared with symphonies in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and St. Louis, with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestra of Monte-Carlo, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Handel & Haydn Society, the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Noordhollands Philharmonisch Orkest, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestre Royal de Wallonie, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense, Nouve Musiche, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Liege, the Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn and countless others. As a skilled stylist, he also appears in Pops programs, including with the Boston Pops on their national holiday tour and twice at Bravo! Vail with the Rochester Philharmonic. His most recent & unique collaborations include a dance/recital program as singer and dancer under the combined auspices of Ravinia with Welz Kauffman and the Luna Negra Dance Theatre premiering a piece in honor of Cervantes’ Don Quijote including a commission by Mexican composer Ana Lara, as well as having performed Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder again as a singer and dancer with the Joffrey Ballet with superlative reviews. Stephen Salters has also appeared in a dance opera with choreographer Nicola Hawkins as well as appearing many times and premiering programs with the Mark Morris Dance Group.
Mr. Salters is a sought-after interpreter and an advocate of ‘New Music’ and often engages composers to write music for him to enrich the vocal repertoire. In the past years, he has sung many commissions including a fantastic cycle by William Bolcom; French composer Pierre Ruscher; and started a new recital program entitled The Black Russian. He has begun commissioning composers for 2 new recitals 1) Wonderful Woman and 2) Underrepresented/Unsung Heroes both to debut in the 2024 & 2025 seasons.
Not only has Mr. Salters conducted masterclasses world-wide for the past 25 years, he has for approximately 15 years had a private teaching studio in Europe, & the USA and now teaching in Australia. Mr. Salters has also spearheaded a highly successful & creative residency called Until Now for young singers and the general public across the globe and has also begun to appear on International Competition Juries. Mr. Salters has always embraced his African-American background – breaking boundaries and continuing to press forward in the footsteps laid out by other great African-American artists.
A celebrated recitalist, known for his musically distinctive and intensely moving performances, Mr. Salters has thrilled and engaged audiences all over the world, including leading venues in New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Milan, Tokyo and throughout Benelux. Mr. Salters has also been a sought-after chamber musician working with many string quartets including the Biava, Shanghai, Borromeo, & Lark over the past decade. Due to his musicianship, precision and artistry, he was asked to be one of the Lark Chamber Artists for several years. Through these collaborations, he has expanded this repertoire with approximately 15-30 new pieces/arrangements written for his voice and this pairing with more to come.
Baritone Stephen Salters first gained worldwide attention in 1996, when he won First Place in Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth International Competition of Singing and became the first American to win the Grand Prix of one of the most important vocal competitions in the world. Also that year, he captured First Place in the 1996 International Puccini-Licia Albanese Competition; National Finalist of the 1996 Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions; first place winner of the Leontyne Price Competition; recipient of the Esther B. Kahn Career Entry Award; candidate of the Marian Anderson Award; and a George London Foundation Award in memory of Bruce Yarnell. It was indeed no surprise when Mr. Salters next obtained America’s most prestigious vocal award, the 1999 Walter W. Naumburg International Competition becoming the first and only musician to win both the Queen Elisabeth & Walter W. Naumburg International Competitions in their combined approximate 180 year illustrious history.
Stephen Salters has worked with leading conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano, Bobby McFerrin, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Martin Haselbock, Keith Lockhart, Ivor Bolton, Will Crutchfield, Leonard Slatkin, Hugh Wolff, Jane Glover, Julian Wachner, Marc Soustrot, Maurizio Benini, Pinchas Steinberg, Gary Bertini and Martin Isepp. In addition, Mr. Salters has sung at leading Festivals worldwide, including Aldeburgh, Banff, Edinburgh, Pietrasanta, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Vail, and BAM’s Next Wave.
Stephen has made several CDs including one of French melody, German lieder and spirituals with pianist Shiela Kibbe for Cypres, and Telarc’s award-winning recording of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with Boston Baroque and Christine Goerke. His most recent recordings include Spirit: Are You There? You Are There; several world premiere performances and recordings, including William Bolcom’s Billy in the Darbies written for Mr. Salters and the Lark Quartet; and 3 different CDs of Elena Ruehr’s music all written for Mr. Salters – Toussaint Before the Spirits; Averno & Gospel Cha Cha; Song of the Silkie with the Borromeo Quartet/Cypress Quartet. The summer before COVID-19 began, he was a featured soloist on a DVD & CD recording of Phillip Glass’s epic 5th Symphony with Maestro Julian Wachner and the Trinity Choir. We are joyfully awaiting the release of Julian Wachner’s Epistle Mass “Live” recording created expressly for Mr. Salters & Songs for Stephen by Elena Ruehr being recorded this summer. Stay tuned!
Artist Diploma with Distinction – Boston University School of Music (1994)
BM, magna cum laude – Boston University School of Music (1991)