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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.


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Alumnus Michael-Thomas Foumai, MM '11, DMA '14, was named one of the 2017 Morton Gould Young Composer Award recipients by ASCAP.

SMTD logo for news
Dean Dworkin's statement on proposed elimination of NEA and NEH

In a letter to all SMTD constituents, Aaron Dworkin lays out the importance of the NEA and NEH to our nation and to the future success of our students.  more

See more department news

Michael Daugherty at the GRAMMY Awards (photo: Yopie Prins)
Professors Daugherty and Gramley receive GRAMMY Awards

Daugherty's "Tales of Hamingway" album with the Nashvill Symphony received 3 Grammys, including Best Contemporary Classical Compostion. As a member of YoYo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, Gramley won Best World Music Album for "Sing Me Home." more

Hila Plitmann performing with the USB in 2016 (photo: Peter Smith)
New U-M Symphony Band CD features multiple GRAMMY-winners

GRAMMY winners include soprano Hila Plitmann, composer Michael Daugherty, and saxophonist Timothy McAllister, who said students performed at "highest professional leve."  more

image for Always Inspirational, Forever Valiant: A Bicentennial Appreciation for the Performing Arts at Michigan
Always Inspirational, Forever Valiant: A Bicentennial Appreciation for the Performing Arts at Michigan

The University of Michigan Bicentennial marks 200 years of extraordinary research, education, and public service.  more

image for SMTD Professors Daugherty and Gramley Receive GRAMMY Nominations
SMTD Professors Daugherty and Gramley Receive GRAMMY Nominations

Multiple GRAMMY nominations went to Michael Daugherty's Tales of Hemingway; YoYo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, of which Joseph Gramley is a member and associate artistic director, received two nominations.  more


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