Anthony Donofrio teaches composition, coordinates the theory area, and directs the UNK New Music Series and Festival at the University of Nebraska Kearney. Prior to coming to UNK, he taught at Kent State University in Ohio, where he gave courses in theory, post-tonal analysis, and initiated the Vanguard New Music Series. He holds the Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Iowa.
Anthony’s music reflects a deep interest in delicate and fragile treatments of time and gesture that are often interrupted, diverted, or dissolved. Furthermore, his music investigates the intersection of music and experimental literature; nonlinearity and structural distortion are commonly found in his pieces. His research on this subject discusses the use of novels such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights, and B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates as direct pedagogical and referential tools for composers.
Anthony’s music has been commissioned, performed, and championed by numerous soloists and chamber ensembles, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the S.E.M. Ensemble, Longleash Piano Trio, pianists Amy O’Dell and Holly Roadfeldt, percussionists Brett William Dietz, Bill Sallak, and Caleb Herron, saxophonists Jeff Heisler, Alex Sellers, and Christopher DeLouis, and harpist Ben Melsky of Ensemble Dal Niente. His music has been featured at many festivals and conferences, including the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival, the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival, Washington State University’s FOCAM, and the University of South Florida’s New Music Festival and Symposium.
Anthony also enjoys reading, book collecting, cooking, chess, and art museums.
My pieces are attempts; attempts to create individual sound worlds that speak for themselves, existing on their own terms and conditions.
I am very concerned, possibly obsessed, with the shapes and durations of my pieces. For me, durations have personality and character, similar to how certain chords and certain sounds have character. A six-minute piece speaks differently than a 30-minute piece, and I have found much pleasure in exploring these differences. Furthermore, I am interested in questioning and challenging the notions of beginning and ending. I often do not intentionally end my pieces, preferring to allow them to stop on their own. I believe that this approach brings a satisfying ambiguity to both the creation of the work and the final product.
I am influenced by the compositional techniques found in all arts as well as in music. I enjoy attempting to mirror the structural divisions of novels and the immediacy of painting. Though my approach to creation is interdisciplinary, I believe in absolute music and do not concern myself with depicting or recreating emotions, stories, or narratives. Rather, I find beauty in simply experiencing sound as it passes through time. My music, my creative need, is an attempt to bring reflection and commentary on this belief.