Rodney DuPlessis (photo by Adriane Hill)
UCSB graduate composition student Rodney DuPlessis working with CREATE's modular synthesizer in Studio Varèse
The composition program at UCSB 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

Note: As preparation for the BM degree, many incoming freshman 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 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). See the Admissions section for more details.

Graduate - Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Learn more about the MA and the PhD Composition degrees in the Music Department, Graduate Program section of UCSB's General Catalog.

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
Clarence Barlow | Professor Emeritus
Joel Feigin | Professor Emeritus

Graduate Students

Notable Alumni

Lansing McLoskey | Professor of Composition, University of Miami 


UCSB Composition Alumnus Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles receives 2019 Grammy Award nomination for Best Choral Performance

Composition Forum

On January 17, 2007 a series was brought to life called the "Composition Forum". Replacing the previous "Composers Forum", it takes place every other week in the Winter and Spring quarters on a Wednesday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Coordinated by an appointed group of graduate composition students, the Composition Forum involves (almost) exclusively the music of UCSB composition students. Works are presented from tape or if possible in live performance. After a maximum of one hour of music, all told, a half-hour of discussion follows.

Corwin Concert and Lecture Series

At irregular intervals, at about 12-15 events a year, external guests – composers, performers (individuals and ensembles), visual artists and music software developers – are invited by the Corwin Chair to speak to and play for the students. Some of them also do readings and/or performances of composition students' works. These events frequently take place in collaboration with CREATE, the Media Arts and Technology Program, and the Primavera Festival.

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. Four categories are listed: Work for Large Ensemble, Work for Chamber Ensemble, Electronic/Audio-visual Work, Works for Marimba and Bass Clarinet. Every year, three external judges are nominated by the Corwin Chair to evaluate student scores and recordings and award prizes linked to monetary rewards, concert performances, and studio recordings.
Deadline for submissions: Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 4 pm
Awards to be announced and granted at the Music Department Awards and Graduation Reception in Spring 2021.
Corwin Awards Submission Form (please download and submit as a PDF)