High School Composition

High School Composition

The high school composition program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is dedicated to guiding young composers as they develop their individual voices. Nestled in a community that values a vibrant arts culture and a campus where the focus is nothing but the arts, UNCSA is a haven for creative innovation.

Program Features

  • Individualized instruction stemming from an outstanding student-to-teacher ratio: 6-1
  • UNCSA Wind Ensemble commissions 2-3 student works a year
  • Performance faculty sponsor annual competitions for student composers for professional premieres
  • Annual Orchestra Premieres concert of student compositions
  • Access to and guidance in the latest developments in technology
  • Recording sessions with guest ensembles. Recent ensembles include eighth blackbird (whose residency is featured in the video above), Daedalus String Quartet, ICE, Prism Saxophone Quartet, yMusic, Cassatt String Quartet
  • Annual professional premiere of a student orchestra piece by the Winston-Salem Symphony
  • Regular performances of student works by UNCSA String Orchestra, UNCSA Opera Scenes, UNCSA Cantata Singers
  • Skype sessions with major guest composers. Recent sessions with Vijay Iyer, Chen Yi, Andrew Norman, Kati Agocs, Gabriel Kahane, Missy Mazzoli, Steve Mackey

This is a great time to be a composer. More and more performing musicians are including new works on their programs, and the standard of playing has improved dramatically over the last few decades. New innovations in technology are extending our understanding and capabilities in composition. Composers are collaborating with dancers, actors, filmmakers and designers to create innovative artistic events. The range of viable styles of new music has never been broader, from the most intimate songs to the most complex multimedia productions.

Where do you fit in? At UNCSA, you are engaged in answering this question on a daily basis – honing your craft, expanding your horizons, delving into constant creative inquiry – under the guidance of established, experienced mentors. Our Composition Seminars are lively opportunities for you 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, drama and filmmaking, in addition to music, UNCSA provides a special environment for collaboration and artistic exploration.

High School Diploma

As a high school music student in the composition program at UNCSA, you will be able to focus on your passion for writing music while also pursuing traditional academic courses. As a composition student, you will receive weekly private lessons from a faculty instructor, who will give you the tools you need to share your artistic message and take you as often as possible on the full trajectory from initial concept to performance.

The high school academic program is highly valued as an integral component in the education of our students. The music intensive curriculum is balanced by the academic classroom – 9th and 10th graders are required to take at least four academic courses, 11th graders at least three academic courses and 12th graders at least two. High school musicians graduate with a diploma, with the option to work toward an additional “Concentration in Music” designation.  Because of the intensive nature of the program, only high school students who demonstrate exceptional potential and achievement will be accepted.

After Graduation

In the past 10 years, graduates of our high school program have been accepted for Composition studies at:
  • The Juilliard School
  • The New England Conservatory
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Peabody Institute
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Roosevelt University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music

Related Programs

UNDERGRADUATE COMPOSITION      GRADUATE COMPOSITION