Michael Kaulkin (he/him) is active as a teacher and composer in the San Francisco Bay Area. His choral, orchestral and chamber music has been performed around the world. Recent projects include the opera Lilith, a prototype scene from which was included in West Edge Opera‘s 2022 SNAPSHOT program in San Francisco, showcasing works in progress.
Chamber works available from Universal Edition include Zwei Hülshoff Lieder, for soprano, clarinet, viola and piano, American Standard for clarinet and piano, and String Quartet No. 1 (“City Walks”), which was a finalist for The American Prize in 2015. More recently, By Hook or by Crook (2020), for horn quartet, was the 1st Place winner of the Quadre 2020 International Composition Competition.
Kaulkin’s orchestra piece Misterium Tremendum won the San Francisco Conservatory’s annual Highsmith Prize in 2000 and was later performed by the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Other orchestral pieces include Letter to Hungary (2005), for string orchestra and Cycle of Friends (1996) for soprano solo, SATB chorus and chamber orchestra.
A composer with deep ties to the theater, Kaulkin has collaborated with the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre, ARK Theater in Los Angeles, and the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater, among others. He also composed the score for the independent film Shakespeare’s Merchant.
In recent years, Kaulkin has composed a number of choral works, popular among them including The Noble Art of Music, a 2-minute choral fanfare, and Tumbalalayka (2015), an arrangement of the popular Yiddish folksong. He served as 2017-18 Composer-in-Residence for San Francisco Choral Artists, and he is the 2020-21 winner of the Organization of American Kodály Educators’ (OAKE) Ruth Boshkoff Composition Prize, resulting in the commission of Redbirds for children’s choir, now published by Colla Voce Music.
A native of Washington, D.C., Kaulkin studied composition with Joseph Castaldo at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, followed by 3 years’ post-graduate study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary, under the tutelage of composer János Vajda and choral conductor István Párkai. He earned his Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he studied composition with Conrad Susa. He is on the Musicianship and Composition faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Pre-College Division. An avid adopter and adapter of the Kodály Method in teaching Musicianship, he has also served on the faculties of summer Kodály programs at Holy Names University and Portland State University.