The Music Composition program challenges individual composers to hone their creative skills. Students will cultivate the ability to use all of the building blocks of music to create a diverse portfolio of original works, gain necessary professional skills, and explore a wide variety of musical styles as they develop their unique voices.
Program Director Clay Mettens recently hosted a webinar discussing student experience and opportunity in the Music Composition program, and we invite you to watch the recording here.
If you are looking for an intensive music conservatory experience paired with the rich musical and cultural experiences provided by living in a major city, then the CCPA Composition Program will prepare you for a career as a professional composer. The emphasis on entrepreneurial activities also prepares students for multiple career opportunities after graduation.
We generally have 14-16 undergraduate and graduate composition students each year, along with a small number of composition minors.
Collaboration with other student musicians is a hallmark of Roosevelt's composition program. Our students regularly collaborate with student pianists, who play the composition students' pieces in master classes and premiere them in a concert at the end of the spring semester. OperaLab is a collaborative project between the Composition Program and Opera Program, where one composer each year is given the opportunity to write a short opera that is premiered by graduate students at OperaFest the following academic year. The Dance Collaboration project brings together CCPA composers and dancers to create a new body of works that are premiered in April in Ganz Hall.
The Composition Program holds a Biannual Chicago Electro-Acoustic Music Festival. This festival features a mixture of guest composers, Chicago-based composers, and CCPA student composers. Composition majors have access to the University's Electro-Acoustic Studios right away, and the Electro-Acoustic Music sequence is offered every other year.
Students in the program will work at developing technique and expressivity. The curriculum contains coursework that addresses the essentials of pitch, rhythm, meter, tension and relaxation, and formal structure. Students will become comfortable in both electronic and acoustic media and gain fluency in speaking and writing.
Students need to take two years of instrumental lessons. Most often, students take piano lessons (you don’t have to audition for the piano studio). If you wish to have lessons on an instrument other than piano, you need to take an instrumental audition in order to be accepted into a studio.
Students are required to take 30 credit hours of non-music, academic electives.
The minor in composition is available to students pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance or Music Education. It consists of five courses in composition and related subjects.
After graduation, several composition students have gone on to masters and doctoral degrees in universities around the country. Recent graduates have gone on to composition programs at Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Our former students have also received recognition in the field, including awards such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, Aaron Copland Award, and Rockefeller Foundation Artist Fellowship. Former students have had their works performed by violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, eighth blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, Turtle Island String Quartet, Cavatina Duo, Sequitur, Alarm Will Sound, Volti, Mizzou New Music Festival, Bang on a Can, Accessible Contemporary Music, Attacca Wind Ensemble, Assad Brothers, Philadelphia Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and the Louisville, Austin, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras.
Roosevelt graduates are responsible for creating musical organizations such as Access Contemporary Music, Anaphora Ensemble, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Singers on New Ground, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Players.
We hold four student composition recitals a year, which feature works written by composition majors and minors. While all composition majors are required to program at least one piece per year on one of these concerts, students are encouraged to program as many pieces as they wish.
The Composition Seminar is held every Thursday evening (6:00 – 7:15 p.m.) throughout the academic year. The Seminar covers a wide variety of activities, including reading sessions with guest artists, presentations by guest composers, pre-concert talks for the student composition recitals, presentations of masters’ theses by graduate composition students, and discussions on topics relevant to the business of running a composing career.
Each year, we bring in several distinguished and emerging composers who have teach composition lessons and/or give presentations on their music. Recent guests include Joseph Schwantner, Michael Colgrass, Michael Daugherty, John Harbison, Dan Welcher, Aaron Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, David Rakowski, Chen Yi, Mason Bates, Anna Clyne, Gabriela Lena Frank, James Primosch, Lee Hyla, Joel Hoffman, Laura Schwendinger, Lowell Liebermann, Bernard Rands, Marta Ptaszynska, Claude Baker, James Mobberley, Susan Botti, Eric Chasalow, Frank Ferko, Mei-Fang Lin, Rob Deemer, Paul Rudy, Elainie Lillios, Zygmunt Krauze, Mark Applebaum, Mischa Zupko, Stephen Montague, Victoria Bond, Mike McFerron, Zach Browning, Marita Bolles, Rick Taube, Lou Mallozzi, and Hummie Mann.
The Contemporary Ensemble Composition Competition is an annual competition and open for all students registered as a composition major in the undergraduate and graduate programs. The winning piece is premiered at the Contemporary Ensemble Concert in the following semester. The student receives a recording of the concert performance to use for non-commercial purposes.
The Wind Ensemble Composition Competition is a biennial competition and open for all students registered as a composition major in the undergraduate and graduate programs. The winning work is premised by the CCPA Wind Ensemble on their spring semester concert. The student receives a recording of the concert performance to use for non-commercial purposes. We also have a biennial Wind Ensemble reading session in which student works are read by the CCPA Wind Ensemble at the end of the academic year.
The Composition Program brings professional musicians (solo/chamber) every year. The ensemble gives two workshops, reading participating student works, and a final concert featuring the winning piece of student competition. The student receives a recording of the concert performance to use for non-commercial purposes. Our guest ensembles include the Brava Quartet, Gaudete Brass Quintet, Orion Ensemble, Accessible Contemporary Music, Zodiac Trio, Fifth House Ensemble, Lincoln Trio, as well as soloists Michale Hall, Shanna Gutierrez, Timothy McAllister, and Julia Bentley among others..
Visit the Young Composer Competition page for complete 2021-2022 guidelines.
The Music Composition program is focused on challenging our students to realize their utmost potential as composers while encouraging them to explore and discover their own unique compositional voice. Our award-winning faculty are dedicated to giving students a comprehensive education that will prepare them for the professional life and business of being a composer.
All portfolio materials are due by the time of your interview and must be submitted through Acceptd. Mailed submissions will not be accepted.
The Music Composition program uses a two step admissions process:
Step 1: Applicants must apply to Roosevelt University/CCPA. Once this application is complete, students will be emailed information about how to schedule an interview time for the Music Composition program.
Step 2: Applicants must create a profile on Acceptd and upload all required materials to that site by the date of their music composition interview. Applicants who do not meet this deadline will only be considered for admission at the discretion of the Music Composition faculty. A link for Acceptd will be available to you after you apply.
Undergraduates should submit scores and, when possible, recordings for at least two (2) original works, preferably composed for different performance media (for instance, a violin and piano duo, woodwind trio, or string quartet). One composition may be an electronic work. Neatness and legibility of scores will be considered. Scores and recordings MUST be uploaded to Acceptd. Recordings of performances are greatly preferred, although MIDI representations are acceptable.
Undergraduates are also required to submit two letters of recommendation by persons familiar with your work, a résumé including a complete list of compositions (include title, duration, and instrumentation for each work), and a statement of your professional goals. All of these items MUST be uploaded to Acceptd - hard copies will not be accepted.
Graduates should submit scores and, when possible, recordings for at least three (3) substantial original works, preferably composed for different performance media (for instance, a chamber ensemble work, choral piece, or orchestra score). Up to two compositions may be electronic works. Neatness and legibility of scores will be considered. Scores and recordings MUST be uploaded to Acceptd. Recordings of performances are greatly preferred, although MIDI representations are acceptable.
Graduates are also required to submit two letters of recommendation by persons familiar with your work, a résumé including a complete list of compositions (include title, duration, and instrumentation for each work), and a statement of your professional goals. All of these items MUST be uploaded to Acceptd - hard copies will not be accepted.