DePaul University School of Music > Academics > Studios & Areas of Study > Composition


The DePaul School of Music Composition Department encourages its students to compose for a variety of ensembles and media and to develop a strong awareness of significant techniques, styles and aesthetic trends of the past fifty years. This is brought about through all aspects of the curriculum:  one-on-one composition lessons with each of DePaul's distinguished composition faculty members; courses in orchestration, analysis, counterpoint, computer music, specialized topics in contemporary music; weekly composition studio classes; and performance opportunities. The department strives for a community environment that emphasizes collaboration with peers.

Composers at DePaul have ample opportunities to work with accomplished instrumentalists and singers throughout the process of composing and rehearsing new works for performance. The School produces several new music concerts each quarter:  New Music DePaul, Composers Forum, and two quarterly concerts by Ensemble 20+ - DePaul's distinctive student new music ensemble, conducted by Michael Lewanski.  These concerts provide consistent opportunities to hear and perform local, national and international works of new music.


Performance Opportunities    

The department produces quarterly student composition concerts entitled Composers Forum -- all composition majors are encouraged to program as many works as possible. Senior undergraduate students and second-year master's students will have a work read, performed and recorded by Ensemble 20+, conducted by Michael Lewanski. Reading sessions are also possible with DePaul Wind Ensemble, University Singers or Chamber Orchestra.

Studio Class    

All composition majors take part in the Studio Class, which meets once per week. The class provides a forum for students and faculty to present and discuss recently completed compositions, works-in-progress, and other analytical or research topics of interest. The Studio Class also features one or more presentations by guest artists each quarter. Recent guests have included Chaya Czernowin, Raphael Cendo, Julio Estrada, Dai Fujikura, Yehudi Wyner, Kyong Mee Choi, Hans Thomalla, Augusta Read Thomas, Stacy Garrop, Kotoka Suzuki, Michael Pisaro (alumnus), Christopher Burns, Ken Ueno, Bernard Rands, Colin McAllister, and Aiyun Huang.

Annual Projects    

As possible, guest artists are brought in to teach or perform during a week-long residency.  In 2012-2013, Dai Fujikura was in residence to teach composition lessons and supervise the premiere of his commissioned work for wind ensemble, my butterflies. In 2013-2014, komungo artist Ik-Soo Heo was in residence to rehearse and perform new works for this Korean instrument by faculty and students.


An annual composition competition for specific types of ensembles is sponsored each year by Sidney Kleinman. Winning entries may be performed on a new music concert at DePaul.  The 2016 Kleinman Composition Competition calls for compositions for SATB chorus on any text in English, with or without keyboard accompaniment, and for a duration of eight to ten minutes. All students and alumni of the DePaul School of Music who have not reached their 30th birthday on the date of submission are eligible. The $1,000 prize will be awarded to the composer whose submission is selected on the basis of merit by a panel of judges. Full competition information here.

After Graduation    

Our graduates have gone on to study and/or teach at the following institutions: Boston University, CalArts, University of North Texas, Northwestern University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, University of Iowa, Roosevelt University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon and Indiana University.