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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.


U-M’s “Mestiza Music" film receives public screening, will air on PBS

Film follows alumna Gabriela Lena Frank as she creates a concert of "mixed-race" music, fusing multi-cultural styles with classical music.  more

Photo by Hamid Payombarnia
2016 Brehm Prize in Choral Composition Awarded

DMA student Iman Habibi is the winner of the 2016 Brehm Prize in Choral Composition.  more

See more department news

image for New Symphony Band CD features faculty and alumni composers and soloists
New Symphony Band CD features faculty and alumni composers and soloists

Reflections, a new recording by the USB, features new works by faculty and alumni composers, along with alumni and faculty solo performances. more

image for Students perform workshop production of new opera by Prof. Bright Sheng
Students perform workshop production of new opera by Prof. Bright Sheng

Prior to its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera in September, students will workshop Dream of the Red Chamber by Sheng, with libretto by Sheng and David Henry Hwang, who will attend along with SFO creative team and administrators.  more

image for Professor Emeritus Leslie Bassett Has Died
Professor Emeritus Leslie Bassett Has Died

The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, who taught at SMTD for 40 years, passed away on February 4, 2016 at age 93. more

SMTD’s Collage Concert XXXIX

The most anticipated SMTD event of every year, the Collage Concert is a non-stop evening of virtuosity, featuring students from every performance discipline in a riveting display of talent, made even more exciting by unique ensembles, exhilarating repertoire, and unexpected juxtapositions of acts. 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