G Clef by Gina Heideman


Our perennial judge and featured perfomer is Dr. John Salmon (bio below). Each year he is joined by two other outstanding adjudicators. For more information, please see here.

Dr. John Salmon

Dr. Salmon's homepage

Pianist JOHN SALMON has distinguished himself on both sides of the Atlantic, as both a classical and jazz artist.

In the United States, he has given recitals for the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago, the Discovery Series in Indianapolis, the Van Cliburn Foundation in Fort Worth, and a Busoni Gala at Symphony Space in New York, as well as at the Spoleto Festival of Charleston. He has also appeared as recitalist at many colleges and universities across the United States, including Tulane, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati College Conservatory, and San Francisco State University. He has appeared as soloist with numerous symphony orchestras, including those of Asheville NC, Battle Creek MI, Beaumont TX, Dallas TX, Lake Placid NY, Muskegon MI, Shreveport LA, and York PA. His broad repertoire covers the classics--Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms--though his interest in modern music is equally strong. He commissioned The water is a fire by Steve Hicken, a work that Salmon premiered in the United States in 1991 on National Public Radio's "Performance Today." In addition, he has broadcast over WFMT radio in Chicago and performed a recital for a PBS television broadcast sponsored by The Beethoven Foundation. Other special performances have included an all-Liszt recital for the American Liszt Society in Mexico City and a gala concerto appearance with the Hendersonville (North Carolina) Symphony celebrating its 25th anniversary. Salmon has also concertized in Central America, Canada, and throughout Europe. He has recorded for Spanish National Radio, Radio Suisse Romande, RAI Italian Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and has appeared with the Haydn Orchestra in Italy and the Sinfónica Bética in Spain, and at the International Bartók Festival in Hungary.

As a jazz pianist and composer, Salmon has toured Europe with his jazz trio and performed with the jazz quintet SPECTRUM, a group praised for its "amazing collection of straight-ahead jazz, whirl of changing meters, even boogie-woogie and old rock in swinging and tightly ordered music making" (Cue Magazine). Salmon's versatility often produces striking juxtapositions. In one season, Salmon performed the Mozart Concerto, K. 488, with the Asheville Symphony on a Saturday night, then performed the next afternoon with SPECTRUM as part of the Carolina Jazz Showcase Festival. The local press called the group "the hands-down, thumbs-up favorite" of the Festival.

In recent years, Salmon has become increasingly involved with American composer and jazz artist, Dave Brubeck. In May 1994, Salmon helped award Brubeck an honorary doctorate from Gerhard Mercator University in Duisburg, Germany; in October 1996, he helped award Dave and Iola Brubeck the Achievement in the Arts award from Northwood University. His articles on Brubeck have appeared in American Music Teacher and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is editor of Brubeck's piano volumes Nocturnes (Warner Bros. Publications, 1997) and Two-Part Adventures (Warner Bros., 1999). Brubeck has dedicated two piano pieces to Salmon: The Salmon Strikes and Bach Again. Salmon has recorded a CD of Brubeck's solo piano works on the Phoenix label.

Dr. Salmon's latest CD, featuring his own original compositions, is available from Albany Records.

As guest lecturer, Salmon has appeared in St. Louis for the College Music Society ("The Piano Sonatas of Carl Loewe"), in Miami for the Music Teachers National Association ("What Brubeck Got from Milhaud"), at Boston Conservatory ("September 1828"), and at The Juilliard School ("Beethoven's Shadow"). He has been guest artist and speaker for the Minnesota Music Teachers Association Convention, as well as the Interlochen (Michigan) annual Piano Festival. He is a frequent clinician in Spain, most recently having taught a jazz-piano seminar at the University of Valencia. Salmon also served as contributing editor to Piano & Keyboard and has written articles on a wide variety of subjects. His book The Piano Sonatas of Carl Loewe was published by Peter Lang Publishing in November 1996.

Salmon's multifaceted career includes the directorship of Focus on Piano Literature, an annual symposium he founded at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Since its inception in 1990, the symposium has garnered widespread recognition and a devoted following across the United States. It has been praised in Piano Quarterly, Clavier, American Music Teacher, and Piano & Keyboard, and excerpts from concerts have been broadcast on National Public Radio.

John Salmon has been a member of the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 1989. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin; the Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School; the Solistendiplom from the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg im Breisgau; and the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (philosophy) from Texas Christian University. His awards include the Premio Jaén, the Gina Bachauer Award from Juilliard, a fellowship from the Beethoven Foundation, and prizes from the Busoni Competition and University of Maryland Competition.

In the spring of 2000 Professor Salmon presented an open master class and a provocative lecture/recital entitled "Adding Notes: A Reflection on Interpretive Freedom" at the Albertson College. In his performances and discussions Dr. Salmon related classical and jazz improvisation, from Bach to Dave Brubeck.


The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
UNCG School of Music
P.O. Box 26167
Greensboro, North Carolina 27402-6167

Telephone: (336) 334-5789
Fax: (336) 334-5497
E-mail: jcsalmon@uncg.edu

International Reviews of Dr. Salmon


"ACQUAINTANCE WITH A PIANO SOVEREIGN...energy and emotion, sharp rhythms, deep lyricism, magnificent splendor...We will hear more of him."
Badische Zeitung (Freiburg, Germany)

"BEETHOVEN'S RIDDLES SOLVED...What distinguishes his playing is the elasticity, in the smallest detail as well as in the whole. Every phrase is pliably formed and naturally delivered...Under his hands, technical and formal problems dissolve into the unity of a work of art."
Hamburger Abendblatt (Hamburg, Germany)

"EXCITING PRESENCE ON THE CONCERT STAGE...polished virtuosity and pellucidity of phrasing...an ebullient spirit...nothing less than enchanting."
Sylter Insel-Nachrichten (Westerland, Germany)


"Not only a dashing performer but also an authentic musician."
Journal de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland)

"What mastery and virtuosity this pianist possesses!"
La Suisse (Geneva, Switzerland)


"BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE OF THE TEXAN SALMON...Salmon was very much liked for his frank musicality and for his masterfully high technique, fruits not only of superior education, but also of natural talent."
Il Piccolo (Trieste, Italy)


"A remarkable personality, an extraordinary talent, and a sum of qualities which inspires admiration of which only true musicians are worthy."
Commercio do Porto (Porto, Portugal)


"A tremendous pianist who could soon be placed among the greatest of the day."
El País (Madrid, Spain)

"PRODIGIOUS MAESTRO...Closing the delightful evening was Brahms' Sonata in C Major, Op. 1, in which Salmon displayed an energetic pianism throughout, marked by captivating impetuousness and pathos. The whole effect was of great depth and conceptual integrity. Especially outstanding was the fluid and elegant finale which made of this fascinating sonata a wonder of expression and dynamism. A concert to remember, one that creates fans and gives them the means to contrast the virtuosity of masters."
Diario de León (León, Spain)


"Upon beginning his jazz improvisations, the pianist confessed that his problem was not knowing when to quit. According to the response from the audience, he could have continued until the early morning hours."
La Nación (San José, Costa Rica)


"Salmon's rapport with the piano is formidable...brilliant performance."
Indianapolis Arts Insight (Indianapolis, Indiana)

"John Salmon's performance showed why he has won so many competitions. His playing could be both bold and breezy...elegant, engaging, even ingratiating."
Shreveport Journal (Shreveport, Louisiana)

"PIANIST JOHN SALMON GIVES SUPERB CONCERT...Salmon set his audience on fire...absolutely breathtaking." The News & Courier (Charleston, South Carolina)

"Thundering applause brought the pianist back...The audience loved guest performer John Salmon's rendition of Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2."
York Dispatch (York, Pennsylvania)

The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana)

"...stunning...virtuosic piano playing at its best...exquisitely passionate."
Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan)

"John Salmon thrilled an SRO audience with a program of Romantic piano music."
Humanities in the South (Greenwood, South Carolina)

"A towering presence...mesmerizing boldness and confidence."
Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida)

"Salmon set fire to the keyboard from one end to the other."
The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana)

"PIANIST SHINES IN RETURN TO HIS HOME TERRITORY...Fort Worth-born and educated pianist John Salmon returned to the area for a scintillating performance."
Arlington News (Arlington, Texas)

"Guest pianist John Salmon joined the orchestra for the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488. Salmon's playing produced gem-like sound, sensitive and poetic nuances, and classic clarity of texture. Salmon's carefully thought-out reading, nevertheless, preserved human warmth and spontaneity and did not hint at academic rigidity."
Asheville Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina)

"Great credit should go to John Salmon of the UNCG piano faculty who is also the director and guiding spirit of [Focus on Piano Literature]. His organizational skills are impressive, but his artistic abilities at the keyboard are altogether remarkable...in all respects, in an elevated class by itself."
Greensboro News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

"Sitting down to what I thought might be a novelty, I was ill-prepared for this brilliant recording [John Salmon Plays Brubeck]. John Salmon is remarkably persuasive. He seems equally conversant in jazz and classical realms, and melds the two with an uncanny conjunction of clarity and poignancy."
Piano & Keyboard

Our festival is part of a growing movement whose battle-cry is, in John Salmon's words, "to loosen the strictures of perfectionism and literalism that have gradually eviscerated the interpreter's art in this age of 'note-perfect' recordings and competitions, and to reemphasize the beautiful, the imaginative."

See John Salmon's articles & website on classical embellishing/improvising:

Adding Notes: A Reflection on Interpretive Freedom