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Composition

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Your Training

Composition instruction at The Boston Conservatory emphasizes musical fluency and creativity through a practical approach. The undergraduate program provides the fundamental tools for composition. A thorough study of theoretical subjects and private composition lessons enable you to become familiar with the techniques of various historical styles and discover your own mode of expression. 

The M.M. composition program is an advanced degree for experienced student composers focusing to a far greater extent on developing the individual’s voice.

The Professional Studies Certificate is an opportunity for students with an M.M. in Composition who may not want – or may not yet want – to enter a D.M.A. program to continue their studies and benefit from the many performance opportunities provided by the Conservatory.

Students study with a different composition teacher each year in order to foster guidance from - and exposure to - a diverse range of compositional voices, styles, and emphases. In addition to the private lesson with a composition professor, students attend a weekly two-hour Composition Seminar which addresses some of the less academic aspects of being a composer. The seminar also provides a forum for visiting composers, visiting artists, and interdisciplinary projects. Recent and upcoming guests include Derek Bermel, William Bolcom, Betty Olivero, Lisa Bielawa, Ken Ueno, Dawn Upshaw, Brave New Works, QX, Samuel Adler, and Hans Abrahamsen.

Your Teachers

Composition Faculty

Composition Classes

Recent Visiting Artists

  • Hans Abrahamsen
  • Samuel Adler
  • Louis Andriessen
  • Simon Bainbridge
  • Derek Bermel
  • Lisa Bielawa
  • William Bolcom
  • Betty Olivero
  • Keeril Makan
  • Andrew Norman
  • Augusta Read Thomas
  • Ken Ueno
  • Chinary Ung
  • Dawn Upshaw
  • Evan Ziporyn
  • Eric Nathan
  • ensemble mise-en 

Your Department

Average number of undergraduate composition students: 20

Average number of graduate composition students: 10

Your Performance Opportunities

The faculty strongly believes that composers can not grow effectively without frequently hearing your music. Therefore, performances of student compositions hold a central position in our program. The Composers’ Recital Series comprises approximately 29 concerts of student compositions. Included in these are concerts of student works given by the Conservatory's Contemporary Performance Program, and 8 premiers given by New Music Chamber Ensembles; assigned student performers with faculty coaches and conductors. Additionally, the composition department hosts choral readings, instrumental clinics and concerts of multiple concerts of student works every semester performed by Conservatory Ensembles as well as workshops given by guest artists and ensembles.

Your Music

Each year, The Boston Conservatory presents more than 200 new works by our students. Your opportunities to hear your compositions performed include:

  • The Boston Conservatory Composer Recital Series
    An annual 30-concert series devoted to student composition performances by chamber ensembles, ensembles-in-residence and student performers; each performance is livestreamed online and recorded for archival purposes
  • The Boston Conservatory Composers' Orchestra
    A week of rehearsals each semester during which student compositions are prepared for a public performance
  • The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble Composition Competition
    An annual competition in which a student is selected to compose a new work for a public performance
  • The Boston Conservatory Sinfonietta Composition Competition
    An annual competition in which a student is selected to compose a new work for a public performance
  • The Song Project
    An annual composition collaboration with voice students
  • Choral readings, masterclasses and instrumental clinics/workshops with visiting ensembles and artists
  • Collaborative projects with students of the Music, Dance and Theater divisions, as well as neighboring schools

Your Future

Your Boston Conservatory education prepares you to work at the highest level in doctoral programs, as well as with large and small ensembles and solo performers, collaborating on commission, concert series and interdisciplinary works.

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