The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts
Degree Programs: BFA, MFA, DMA
View Program Faculty Listing
Since its founding, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts has been recognized worldwide as a leading center for contemporary composition and performance. The school is extending this legacy by offering a unique program that reflects how new directions in creative music increasingly demand the thoroughgoing integration of composition and performance practice. This integrated approach to musicmaking serves as a vital linchpin in the evolution of original work and the maturation and refining of individual artistic voices.
This challenging program is not a double major, but rather focuses specifically on ways in which music artists can develop their overall creative profiles and a distinctive body of music by combining technical performance virtuosity with innovative compositional models. Each area depends on the other in order to be fully realized. In this process, students who are already accomplished composers and expert players immerse themselves deeply and intensively along the entire continuum of creative musicmaking.
The Performer-Composer Program does not prescribe any particular style or direction or point of emphasis. Instead, it provides highly individualized courses of study—comprehensive training regimens in cutting-edge composition and performance that are custom-tailored to the creative interests of each student and assessed continuously by the faculty. Studies may include mastering original systems of improvisation, special methods for notation, unique performance techniques and new music technologies. Students in this program give recitals and other performances centered on original music. In addition to solo performances, they often organize ensembles, sometimes with faculty participation, that are dedicated to exploring emerging musical languages. In keeping with the value CalArts places on interdisciplinary art, the Performer-Composer Program also strongly supports students who wish to explore—and link their work with—disciplines beyond music.
At both the BFA and MFA levels, the Performer-Composer Program culminates with a formal graduation recital and the completion of a professional-level composition portfolio. The DMA program culminates in a multi-faceted Doctoral Project.
Milen Kirov (Music DMA 12) performs his Toccata, for solo piano