Michael Kaulkin — Bio

Michael Kaulkin (b. 1967) is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory having previously studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary.  He is active in the San Francisco Bay Area as a teacher and as a composer of works for chorus, orchestra, film and the musical stage. His music has been described as “exceptionally beautiful on many counts.”

Kaulkin’s Waiting… for chorus, string quartet and piano was recently premiered by the Sanford Dole Ensemble. Other choral works have been heard in the Bay Area by audiences of the San Francisco Choral Artists and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble.  His Cycle of Friends, for chorus and chamber orchestra with soprano solo was commissioned and premiered by the Music Group of Philadelphia in conjunction with Orchestra 2001.

Chamber works include the string quartet City Walks, which was premiered in Berkeley, Ca. in 2009 and revived in 2010 as part of the San Francisco International Airport’s “You Are Hear” festival.  It was performed again at the HellHot Festival in Hong Kong in the summer of 2012 It is scheduled for performance in the Philadelphia area by the Elysian Camerata in 2015. American Standard for clarinet and piano has become popular with clarinetists around the world and in 2014 received its first performance at the International Clarinet Association’s annual ClarinetFest®. It is included on a critically acclaimed CD of American works for clarinet and piano called Time Pieces on the British label Clarinet Classics.  Kaulkin’s most recent chamber work is Zwei Hülshoff Lieder, a setting of two poems by German poet Annette von Droste Hülshoff for soprano, clarinet, viola and piano, which was commissioned by the San Francisco recital series LIEDER ALIVE! and premiered in January, 2015.

In addition to Cycle of Friends, orchestral works include Letter To Hungary for string orchestra, which was commissioned by the Hungarian Chamber Symphony Orchestra and premiered in Budapest in 2005. The piece was given its U.S. premiere in 2007 by the Mission Chamber Orchestra. Misterium Tremendum for full orchestra received the San Francisco Conservatory’s Highsmith Award for orchestral competition in 2000 and later received its professional premiere by the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

As a teacher, Kaulkin’s years in Budapest afforded him the opportunity to have a very close look at the Hungarian approach to teaching music literacy, recognized around the world for its effectiveness, and he applies those methods whenever possible.  His is currently on the musicianship and composition faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Pre-College Division and has previously taught at the Crowden School in Berkeley, and has served as Artist-in-Residence, teaching composition at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA).  He has also previously served on the Summer Institute faculty of the Kodály Center at Holy Names University and on the board of the Northern California Association of Kodály Educators.

A native of Washington, D.C., Kaulkin earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied with Joseph Castaldo, and went on to further study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary, where he remained for three years, studying composition with János Vajda and choral conducting with István Párkai. After returning from Budapest, he studied composition with Conrad Susa at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he received his Master of Music degree.

Kaulkin is also the founder of Swirly Music, a web store offering composers a venue to sell scores and parts in print.

Michael Kaulkin lives in Oakland, California with his wife, sculptor Georgianna Krieger, and their thirteen-year-old son Philo.