Graduate Studies in Composition

The graduate program in Composition at UC Berkeley strives to give space to the cultural leaders of the future – composers, composer-performers, improvisers, sound artists, and composers with special emphasis in technology. We prepare students for professional lives as practicing artists and as academics. Every student in the program receives a full fellowship that includes a stipend with no teaching responsibilities in the first year, a teaching fellowship (Graduate Students Instructor) until they dissertate, and a one-year dissertation completion fellowship (if qualification exams are passed in normative time). Other funding opportunities include possible summer funding, competitive composition awards (e.g. the Ladd Prize for a composer to spend a year in Paris), and Graduate Student Researcher positions.

The works of the composition faculty (Edmund Campion, Carmine-Emanuele Cella, Cindy Cox, Myra Melford, and Ken Ueno) are heard regularly around the world, and their presence is deeply embedded into the cultural life of the San Francisco Bay area. Our graduate composers have regular opportunities to hear their music performed by the professional Eco Ensemble through the Berkeley New Music Project (BNMP), conducted by David Milnes. In partnership with the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) directed by Edmund Campion, students may work with innovative and unique technologies for human/computer interaction, assisted composition and orchestration, advanced real time sound transformations, instrument augmentation and much more.

The department sponsors residencies, workshops and readings with world-class ensembles such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Arditti Quartet, Sound Icon, Quatuor Tana, and Quince. Through the Bloch Lecture Series and our weekly composer colloquium, students interact with luminaries such as Kaija Saariaho, George Lewis, Du Yun, Steve Reich, Anna Clyne, Philippe Leroux, Magnus Lindberg, Steve Mackey, and Beat Furrer. Many students develop strong ties to professional new music groups and go on to have works programmed by ensembles such as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Oakland Symphony, the Earplay Ensemble, and the Empyrean Ensemble. The composition faculty mentor and support students with the goal of guiding the development of their professional careers. Faculty help arrange professional performance and educational opportunities, attend performances and readings of students works, and enable specialized technologies for innovative projects.

In their first year of graduate study the students participate in a two-semester composition seminar where their writing is evaluated and critiqued in a supportive environment. Beyond the first year, the students are required to enroll every semester in private lessons. Faculty frequently offer special seminars on topics of interest.

The program (from MA through the completion of the PhD) normally requires a minimum of five years to complete.We encourage our students to seek interaction and collaboration at all levels in the university. Students are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary studies both inside and outside the department. Many of our distinguished recent graduates have defined themselves by working closely with the ethnomusicology and music history sectors of the department or through significant contact with other departments on campus. Composers have collaborated successfully with the Arts Research Center, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), and Cal Performances (ECO Ensemble, Tempo Festival and Edge Festival). Through CNMAT the graduate composers regularly interact and collaborate with students and faculty from the Department of Psychology, Computer Science and Engineering as well as the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Recent Graduates in Composition

UC  Berkeley Ph.D. Alumni in Music Composition are thriving around the world in prestigious careers as professors and music professionals.

Jean Ahn (2008) is CMO/Advisor for music technology startup Cool Jamm Company. She is appointed as a composer-in-residence for SFCA and she recently earned the 2nd place from Flute National Composers Association for “TOYS”. She will be the guest speaker at Festival of New American Music@ Sac State and her piece “Stereograph”, “Flashback” and “Fingerdance” will be played several times this fall. She is now working with Gayaguem soloist JUL for CD of her gayaguem music.

Mason Bates (2008) was recently named the most-performed composer of his generation and the 2018 Composer of the Year by Musical America. He is commissioned by major orchestras in the United States and serves as the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Nils Bultmann (2013) is an active professional composer, performer, and producer.

Lily Chen (2017) is currently an Assistant Professor of composition at Taipei National University of the Arts.

David Coll (2011) is a freelance professional composer, sound artist, and educator working in the Bay Area.

Daniel Cullen (2012) is Program Manager for the InterMusic SF, an organization that supports the professional and artistic growth of San Francisco Bay Area musicians.

Anthony DeRitis (1997) is Professor in the Music Department at Northeastern University

Richard Dudas (2005) is Associate Professor of Composition and Computer Music at Hanyang University, South Korea.

Aaron Einbond (2009) is Senior Lecturer (the UK equivalent of Associate Professor) at City, University of London, where he teaches Music Composition, Sound, and Technology and co-founded the research center SPARC (Sound Practice and Research @ City). Recent composition projects include Hidden in Plain Sight: a site-specific immersive music theater work for four performers and electronics premiered at the Académie du Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; The kind of problem a city is, commissioned by Yarn/Wire, performed at the TRANSIT Festival in Leuven, Belgium, and to be released on multi.modal records in London in 2019.

Sivan Eldar (2016) is a professional composer pursuing an active career in Europe and the United States. Recently, she completed Heave, a Royaumont/IRCAM co-commission for EXAUDI premiered at Royaumont Festival. Upcoming commissions include Rainy Days Festival. (Luxembourg Philharmonie, new quartet for Diotima), Festival Présences (Maison de la Radio), and Accentus choir (La scène musicale). Her music is published by Durand/Universal Music Classical.

Robin Estrada (2013) is adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco. He is recognized as a unique musical voice strongly influenced by his Filipino heritage. Joshua Kosman, in a recent review of a VOLTI music CD says, “in paghahandog, Estrada chops his Tagalog text into dissociated syllables that whirl around in a frenzy of textural recombination, creating a musical pressure cooker that is at once daunting and thrilling.”

Evelyn Ficarra (2011) is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex and Acting Head of the Music Department. Recent commissions: music and sound score for Listening Creates an Opening; Mary Armentrout Dance Theater; Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy New York, Sept 2018; Summer, Winter, Spring sound score for multi track video / sound installation and performance, SF Arts Gallery @ Minnesota St Projects, SF, Jan 2018;War Poems: the dead returning lightly dance for large ensemble and electronic sounds, commissioned by Poems on the Underground, premiered Nov 2016 in London.

Heather Frasch (2011) is Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, as Composer/Sound Artist-in-Residence 2018-19.  She was a Research Fellow at the IEM, in Graz, Austria as Composer-in-Residence 2015. She is co-editor of mumei publishings which, since 2015, has published three online journals, 2 books and 1 collection of text-scores. She was invited co-editor of Sound American Edition 5, Networks of Listening. Recent commissions include: slightly shifting for Chamber Ensemble, funded by INM Berlin 2018; weaving broken threads for Chamber Ensemble and Digital Instrument, Commissioned by Adapter Ensemble 2017; Quivering for Chamber Ensemble commissioned by Vertixe Sonore 2016.

Matthew Goodheart (2013) is an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic where he teaches courses in Music and Sound and the History Jazz and Improvised Music. From 2015-17 he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University.

Rama Gottfried (2015) is a post-doctoral Researcher in Multimedia Composition at the Hochschule für Musik und theater Hamburg.  This year, Apophänie, with Down the Rabbit Hole, was presented at the Ultima Festival Oslo.

Hubert Ho (2005) is a Lecturer at Northeastern University and is Co-Artistic Director of the Dinosaur Annex, one of Boston’s most established New Music Ensembles.

Brian Kane (2006) is an Associate Professor Music at Yale, Department of Music. His scholarly work is interdisciplinary, located in the intersection of music theory, composition and philosophy.

Ravi Kittappa (2017) is 2018-19 Fulbright Fellow in the Czech Republic, Prague.

Ursula Kwong-Brown (2018) recently began teaching scratch video coding and lego robotics for Robofun, a New York City-based organization that offers after-school programs to youth in technology and multimedia.  The UC Berkeley orchestra is premiering her dissertation piece Where the I Comes From on April 13, 2019 and the Berkeley Symphony will be performing her new work Poems from Angel Island on May 5, 2019 as part of the Bay Area Book Festival.

Jason Levis (2012) is an Associate Professor at the California Jazz Conservatory and maintains an active career as a performing musician, composer and arranger.

Mei-Fang Lin (2007) is Associate Professor of Composition at the Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan.

Jimmy López (2012) is Composer-in Residence with the Houston Symphony for the 2018-19 season.  His new oratorio, commissioned by Cal Performances and the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, with Esa-Pekka Salonen, will be premiered in Berkeley in the Spring of 2019.

Keeril Makan (2004) is the Michael (1949) and Sonja Koerner Music Composition Professor at MIT and Head of the Music and Theater Arts Section. His opera, Persona, was recently performed by the Los Angeles Opera and his a new CD of his music, Letting Time Circle Through Us was released on New World Records.

John MacCallum (2011) is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Inria/CNRS/Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris-Saclay.

Ali Momeni (2005) is Senior Principal Scientist at Shield AI, leading user services and experience teams focused on human robot interaction design.

Amadeus Regucera (2016) is the Artistic Production Director at the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He maintains an active career as a composer with several upcoming commissions including a new work for Ensemble Linea for the Festival MC2 in Grenoble.

Ilya Rostovtsev (2017) is a Research Scientist in Music and Technology working in the Bay Area.

Matthew Schumaker (2015) is an MLK Visiting Scholar at MIT, where he is composing new music and teaching undergraduate courses in computer music.

Thatchatham Silsupan (2015) is a lecturer in sonic arts and sound studies at Department of Media Arts and Design,Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University.

Ronald Bruce Smith (1993) Associate Professor of Music Technology, Northeastern University, recently completed a twenty-five minute work commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation for David Tanenbaum and the Del Sol String Quartet.

Dmitri Tymoczko (2002) is Professor at Princeton University; his fourth CD, “Fools & Angels” came out Fall 2018 on New Focus.

Robert Yamasato (2010) is a Lecturer in Music Theory at UC Berkeley.

Michael Zbyszynski (2000) is a Research Associate in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of Longdon. He teaches perception and multimedia computing.