The composition program at UC Santa Barbara is recognized internationally for its innovation, fine instruction, and performance resources in contemporary art music. It maintains high standards for the composition and performance of new music and offers to students excellent opportunities for pursuing research. The diverse backgrounds of the composers in the Department contribute to a lively atmosphere. The result is a cosmopolitan perspective on the current international scene.

Music production, research, and teaching activities within the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technologies (CREATE) have earned UCSB an international reputation as a leader in multimedia and electronic music. Today, CREATE has three designed studios for sound generation, processing, and recording, including an octophonic recording and playback facility.

The Ensemble for Contemporary Music is a student and faculty ensemble dedicated to the performance of new music. It introduces participants to innovative composition and performance. Its repertoire includes works by well-known composers as well as representatives of a host of contemporary trends. Student compositions are played regularly.

In order to provide a fertile ground for creativity and learning, the Department sponsors new music concerts featuring works by students, faculty, and guests from around the world of music. A regular Composition Forum encourages students to exchange ideas with other students, performers, and guest composers. The annual Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Awards are for Excellence in Music Composition. They are open to all UCSB undergraduate and graduate student music majors in the Music Department, the College of Creative Studies, and the Media Arts and Technology Program.

Degrees Offered

Undergraduate

  • Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition

Learn more about the BM degree in the Music Department, Undergraduate Program section of UCSB's General Catalog. Find more information on applying to the undergraduate program on the Undergraduate Degrees page.

Note: As preparation for the BM degree, many incoming freshmen will choose to declare the Bachelor of Art in Western Art Music, work towards their portfolio in Music 8 and 88, and submit the portfolio to a jury at the end of their sophomore year. However, both prospective transfer students and freshmen may send portfolios in the month of January prior to entrance to UCSB for consideration. Entrance into the major as a Freshman requires advanced composition skills, comparable to successful completion and review of the sophomore level portfolio (Music 88).

Graduate

  • Master of Arts (MA) 

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The MA-only time-to-degree is two years. The PhD-only time-to-degree is four years (for applicants who have already completed a master's degree at an accredited university). If accepted into the MA and PhD programs, the time to complete both degrees is five years. Learn more about the MA and the PhD Composition degrees in the Music Department, Graduate Program section of UCSB's General Catalog. Find more information on applying to the graduate program on the Graduate Degrees page.

 

Composition Faculty

Sarah Gibson | Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment

Jo Ann Kuchera-Morin | Professor

João Pedro Oliveira | Professor, Corwin Chair of Composition

Curtis Roads | Professor

Andrew Tholl | Lecturer

Notable Alumni

Lansing McLoskey | Professor of Composition, University of Miami 

Composition Forum

The Composition Forum takes place regularly throughout the year, usually on Friday mornings. It is a place for students and faculty to present and discuss their works, thoughts, and aesthetical points of view. It is usually coordinated by graduate composition students in collaboration with the Corwin Chair.

Corwin Concert and Lecture Series

The Corwin Concert and Lecture Series is also organized by the Composition area in collaboration with the Corwin Chair. It consists of external guest lecturers, guest performers, and guest composers. Lectures usually address subjects of students' interests, and concerts often include student pieces. These events frequently take place in collaboration with CREATE and the Media Arts and Technology Program.

Corwin Awards

The annual Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Awards are for Excellence in Music Composition. They are open to all UCSB undergraduate and graduate student music majors in the Music Department, the College of Creative Studies, and the Media Arts and Technology Program. Every year there are several different categories, such as solo or ensemble pieces, electroacoustic or visual music. Three external judges are nominated by the Corwin Chair to evaluate student scores and recordings and to name winners. Winners in each category receive monetary rewards, or have their pieces performed in concert and/or recorded by a professional ensemble.

Deadline for submissions is typically mid-February.

Awards to be announced and granted at the Music Department Awards and Graduation Reception.