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Department of Composition


A distinguished faculty of internationally known composers empowers students with guidance and encouragement in the search of the student's individual voice and creative goals. Our students achieve at the highest level by creating cutting-edge work that explores a wide range of creative media and styles. Alumni continue our tradition of artistic excellence, holding teaching positions across the globe, performing and composing at the top of the field, and contributing in a meaningful way to a diverse range of communities.

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Composers in undergraduate and graduate programs enjoy premiere performances of their work through our recently revamped write HEAR / right NOW concert series, annual participation in the Midwest Composers Symposium (a forum for student composers from four schools), and concerts by University of Michigan ensembles. Students also have access to the incredible technological resources of the School, including the Duderstadt Audio Studio and the brand new Music Technology Lab.

Our composers benefit from the EXCEL Program, which provides entrepreneurship training and career services with the goal of enabling all students to forge a viable career by exploring, developing and leveraging their talents, training, skills, and ambitions.

All of these factors combine to make the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance one of the country's most important centers for the training of young composers.



guest composers & past faculty

In addition to the regular faculty, students have the opportunity to work with a variety of eminent composers each semester.


Chelsea Hamm and Kevin Allswede took Bharatnatyam lessons as part of the India program. Photo by Chelsea Hamm
The India Program is Music to Their Ears

When nine U-M students began their journey to India with Prof. Stephen Rush in July, they thought they were going to learn about Indian classical music. But when they returned one month later, they also brought vast new knowledge about themselves and each other. more

image for Workshop for Dream of the Red Chamber (VIDEO)
Workshop for Dream of the Red Chamber (VIDEO)

Last winter, voice students performed a workshop production of Dream of the Red Chamber by Professor Bright Sheng, which debuts at the San Francisco Opera on Sept. 10.     more

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The Koinonia Trio (Hye-Jin Cho, piano; Christine Harada Li, violin; Nathaniel Pierce, cello)
The New Entrepreneurs

EXCEL program prepares students for thriving careers in the performing arts more

JFK, composed by David T. Little; Les Feluettes (Lilles), composed by Kevin March
A Tale of Two Operas

As a composer, there are few achievements more prestigious than having a grand opera commissioned and performed by a celebrated company. Yet in the short span of four weeks this spring, two School of Music, Theatre & Dance alums-who earned degrees the same year-have seen this dream realized.     more



SMTD logo for eventEXCEL Trainings

Sep. 22, Nov. 10
Earl V. Moore Building, EXCEL Lab
Free - no tickets required to observe

image for Guest Recital: Francesco D’Orazio, violinGuest Recital: Francesco D’Orazio, violin

Friday, November 11 - 3:40pm
Earl V. Moore Building, McIntosh Theatre
Free - no tickets required

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SMTD logo for eventEXCEL Breakfast: Pamela Z

Friday, November 18 - 11:00am
Earl V. Moore Building, EXCEL Lab
Free - no tickets required

Michael Daugherty, Professor of Composition
Evan Chambers, Professor and Chair of CompositionRoshanne Etezady, Lecturer in CompositionKristin Kuster, professor of compositionErik Santos, Associate Professor of Composition and Director, Electronic Music StudioPaul Schoenfield, Professor of CompositionBright Sheng, Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition
"Michigan, for me, was incredible. I worked with everyone..... There are many schools that have great teachers but few where you can work with them intensively. I was not shy about approaching them, but there was something about Michigan that made me feel that I could."
Derek Bermel, MM Composition 1993 & DMA Composition 1997

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower