The Composition program at UCSD is committed to nourishing the individual gifts and capacities of student composers in a diverse and active environment, with an emphasis on intensive personal interaction between faculty and student.
The faculty mentor considers a student's particular goals and then attempts to strengthen his or her technical capacity to meet them. Of course, it is also the case that the diversity and liveliness of our program itself often challenges students to reevaluate their goals.
An incoming student in the M.A. or Ph.D. program begins with a year-long seminar (taught by a different faculty composer each quarter), and continues with individual studies thereafter. At the close of the first year Fall Quarter and again after the following Spring Quarter, the entire composition community gathers for a daylong "jury." Each seminar member is allotted a block of time, during which the composition that has just been completed is performed and recorded in a carefully rehearsed presentation. There is a detailed discussion of each work by the faculty composers, and the student has an opportunity to comment, explain, and pose questions. Following the performance and discussions of this day, the composition faculty meet to assess the students' work collectively and to offer any guidance deemed necessary. This process is at the root of the uniqueness of the UCSD program, and manifests the range, seriousness and vitality with which compositional issues are explored here.
After completing three quarters of the composition seminar and two juries, students come to know something about the ideas and perspectives of each faculty composer; the faculty, in turn, is aware of each student's objectives and needs. At this point, an individual mentor is agreed upon and this personal relationship becomes the center of the student's continuing work as the degree is completed.
There is also a biweekly "Focus on Composition" seminar at which faculty, students and selected visitors present work of interest (compositional, analytical, technological, even whimsical).
These seminars foster mutual awareness within the student composer group. Collegial relationships develop which lead not only to friendships but also to further creative outlets in cooperative projects (including the student-run Composers' Forums, performance collectives, and recital projects). UCSD performers - faculty and student - are all committed to playing new music, and frequent composer/performer collaborations are a vital aspect of life in the Department.
In sum, the composition program at UCSD is a nourishing, though admittedly demanding one. We believe that the distinctive mix of experience and inquiry promotes useful preparation for a professional life in music. We have no orthodoxy, only a full-time investment in the importance of contemporary musical creativity and a determination to see it flourish.