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Compose your own success

Comprehensive professional training
Intensive personalized instruction - Preparation for career success

This is an exciting time to be involved in new music. More and more performing musicians are including new works on their programs, and the standard of playing has improved dramatically during the last few decades. New innovations in technology are extending our understanding and capabilities in composition. The range of viable styles of new music has never been wider, from the simplest songs to the most complex multimedia works.

Composition Faculty
Composition Faculty: Kenneth Frazelle, Michael Rothkopf, Lawrence Dillon

Where do you fit in?  That is the question that all composers must answer for themselves.  At the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, composers are engaged in answering this question on a daily basis -- writing, studying and listening to new music in all of its forms.  Our monthly Composition Seminars are lively opportunities for composers to gather -- sometimes with special guests -- to discuss some of the most important issues facing all of us.  With professional training schools in dance, design & production, drama and filmmaking, in addition to music, UNCSA provides a unique environment for artistic inquiry and exploration.

Other Program Features

  • Student compositions performed on a regular basis by peers and professionals
  • Annual competition for a premiere by the Winston-Salem Symphony
  • Several faculty recitals each year include student compositions
  • Annual concert of student works by the UNCSA Symphony
  • Annual concert of student works by nu (the UNCSA contemporary ensemble)
  • Access to the latest developments in technology, including film composition and recording
  • Annual residencies bring a diverse range of composers to the campus, as well as renowned contemporary ensembles to record students' works (see lists of guests below)

In addition to the wide range of artistic possibilities, our curriculum boasts specially designed courses to enhance the students' career perspectives in a contemporary, market-sensitive approach to educating musicians.

As you think about how you want to pursue a future as a composer, please come visit our beautiful campus and discuss your options with our faculty. You will find that the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has all of the ingredients necessary to provide composers with a strong professional and artistic grounding in the pursuit of their dreams.

Recent Guest Composers

Samuel Adler
Larry Austin
Mason Bates
William Bolcom
Steven Bryant
Robert Carl
Mario Davidovsky
Mark Engebretson
Peter Fischer
Kyle Gann
Adam Guettel
Jennifer Higdon
Jeffrey Holmes
Anthony Iannaccone
Edward Jacobs
Gabriel Kahane
Arthur Krieger

Loren Loiacono
Steven Mackey
Missy Mazzoli
Andrew Norman
Nicholas Omiccioli
Bernard Rands
Huang Ruo
David Smooke
Eleonor Sandresky
Margaret Sandresky
Eric Schwartz
Augusta Read Thomas
George Walker
Robert Ward
Randall Woolf
Robert Yekovich

Guest Performers

Cassatt String Quartet
Da Capo Chamber Players
Daedalus String Quartet
Eighth blackbird
Emerson String Quartet
Forecast Ensemble
International Contemporary Ensemble
Prism Saxophone Quartet
Speculum Musicae
Zephyros Winds

Graduate Composition Program

The graduate composition program is designed to offer guidance to composers as they prepare to enter the profession.  Students may choose to refine their artistry through either of two curricular paths, focusing on acoustic music composition or specializing in the integration of technology into their creative work.  Both courses of study are designed to offer critical mentoring and support while maximizing performance and professional opportunities.

Undergraduate Composition Program

The undergraduate composition program includes a broad array of academic courses in addition to a rigorous professional education in music. Students study a wide range of topics designed to develop and articulate their personal styles and communicate their musical ideas effectively. The intensive curriculum provides comprehensive training in composition, conducting, music literature, analysis, orchestration, counterpoint, electronic media, business skills and music research. Every effort is made to secure performances and recordings for all student composers.  Internationally renowned guest composers supplement the curriculum with lessons, master classes, seminars, and campus performances. The diverse conservatory setting of UNCSA, an environment where musicians, dancers, actors, designers and filmmakers live and work together, provides numerous opportunities for composers to explore innovative ideas in programming and performances.

High School Composition Program

Students in the high school composition program study the technical skills necessary for music composition. Students develop the basic tools that will enable them to succeed in the artistic milieu of their choice.  Emphasis is placed on providing a substantive basis for future growth. The intimate conservatory setting provides numerous performance opportunities for all composition students. Students meet with the primary studio teacher for weekly private lessons and with the entire department for monthly composition seminars.

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