A Letter From The Area Director
Coming to study composition at CSULB means joining an active group of undergraduate and graduate composition students who are working closely with an enthusiastic and accomplished faculty. The faculty, composers themselves, actively write works for the concert hall, television, film, and other venues and media. Composition study with us also means entering a department that supports an amazing variety and number of new music activities every term, from student composer recitals, to guest artist events, from composition degree recitals, to faculty composer concerts, to film score recording sessions and experimental Happenings, as well as New Music Ensemble concerts, Laptop Ensemble concerts, and much more.
We are a welcoming department, and our student composers support each other by playing each others’ pieces, serving as stage hands on fellow composers’ degree recitals, and working together to produce recording sessions of student works and late-night concerts and to bring in guest artists to campus.
The composition program at CSULB provides students with advanced skills covering a wide range of compositional techniques and technologies in order that they become more informed, literate musicians, better prepared to develop their own unique creative compositional voices. Skills taught include: beginning and advanced film scoring, advanced theory, electronic and computer music, experimental music and digital media, sound design, advanced topics in listening and analysis, text setting and strategies for working with contemporary poetry, contemporary and computer music notation, beginning and advanced orchestration, and sound engineering and recording. In addition to the expertise that the composition faculty members bring to the program, our musicology faculty includes specialists in 20th-Century music and in film music, regularly offering seminars that are also open to composition students. Recent musicology seminars, for example, include ones focused on Stravinsky, John Cage, 20th-century Latin American music, and music in film noir.
One of our greatest strengths is that we offer many, many performance opportunities for students in the program. In part supported by our student group, the Composers’ Guild, the department brings in professional ensembles at least once a term to workshop and perform student works. In recent years, our student composers have heard their works in concerts by many great performers including the Eclipse Quartet, the Robin Cox Ensemble, the Mojave Trio, the Elixir Piano Trio, Ensemble FRET, Conundrum, the Definiens Project, a duo from the California E.A.R. Unit, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, and others. In addition, recent/upcoming workshops have allowed BCCM composition students to work with the Kronos Quartet, pianist Michael Mizrahi of the NOW Ensemble, the Veda Quartet, Kathy Supové, and many others.
The BCCM’s own award-winning ensembles also regularly provide readings and public performances of student works. There are opportunities for the students to hear their works read and recorded by the conservatory’s orchestra, the bands, the percussion ensembles, the New Music Ensemble, and other on-campus groups. Many student performers commission pieces for their recitals and for the ensembles that they form. These relationships extend into professional networks in classical, film, and jazz-informed collaborations.
We hope you’ll consider applying and joining us in the vibrant new music community of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music!
Dr. Alan Shockley
Area Director, Composition Studies
Bob Cole Conservatory of Music