Dr. Anthony Donofrio

Associate Professor of Music, Composition & Theory

Office: FAB 245   |    Phone: (308) 865-8632   |    Email: donofrioaj@unk.edu

Dr. Anthony Donofrio


Dr. Anthony Donofrio is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, teaching composition, coordinating the theory area, and directing the nationally-recognized UNK New Music Series and Festival. Prior to coming to UNK, Anthony taught at Kent State University, teaching courses in theory, post-tonal analysis, and initiated the Vanguard New Music Series.

Anthony is very interested in fusing the compositional techniques found in literature and painting with a very personal and secretive approach to composing music. Anthony’s pieces favor delicate and fragile timbres, non-linear structures, and distorted formal plans. Anthony’s research into the intersection of music and literature – specifically the study of non-linear or non-goal-oriented music – has been presented at the University of Tennessee New Music Festival, the University of South Florida New Music Symposium, and at the SOUNDRY Courses for the Omaha Under the Radar Festival.

Anthony’s works have been commissioned or performed by many wonderful and talented specialists in new music, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Quince Contemporary Ensemble, the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, Hasco Duo, Chamber Cartel, soprano Liz Pearse, bassist James Ilgenfritz, saxophonist Christopher DeLouis, and percussionist Bill Sallak. In 2018, Anthony’s The Observer Slowly Opens and Closes Their Eyes, for solo harp, was part of a three-piece study for the dissertation of Dr. Ben Melsky – who commissioned the work – from Northwestern University.

A regular collaborator with colleagues, Anthony has been commissioned by UNK professor of low brass Robert Benton, UNK professor of voice Sharon Campbell, Dr. Jayoung Hong, the Kearney Symphony Orchestra, and has written music for three separate UNK Dance productions. The 3-hour Several Hundred Drops of Water, premiered in May of 2017 by Chamber Cartel, was a result of a collaboration with UNK professor of ceramics Mallory Wetherell on the reactions of clay to water; the form of the piece is a direct mapping of the resulting shapes found in such reactions.

Anthony has been a guest composer, performer, and speaker at numerous new music festivals and conferences, including the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival, the University of Western Illinois New Music Festival, the University of Akron New Music Festival, Omaha Under the Radar Festival, the Vox Novus Festival, and the S.E.M. Composers Workshop.

More information can be found at www.donofrio-music.com

Link to New Frontiers spotlight on Dr. Donofrio:


Artist Statement: 

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 is passes through time. My music, my creative need, is an attempt to bring reflection and commentary on this belief.