How do I apply to CUA?
You can read about the specific application requirements for the composition program here.
Is an audition required?
YES for all students. There are two prongs to this: within composition for all degree programs, and in a performance area for certain degree programs.
An interview audition with composition faculty will be scheduled for all undergraduate applicants during their on-campus audition date. For graduate applicants, or for undergraduates who audition remotely, an interview via video-chat with composition faculty will be arranged on the designated audition days.
All undergraduate applicants are required to pass an audition in a principal instrument or voice. MM and DMA Composition applicants are not required to audition, although an audition is strongly encouraged (see the financial considerations below).
All Composition applicants, whether or not they audition on an instrument, are required to submit a representative portfolio of compositions and sit for an audition interview with the Composition Faculty.
Is an interview required?
Yes. An interview audition with composition faculty will be scheduled for all undergraduate applicants during their on-campus audition date. For graduate applicants, or for undergraduates who audition remotely, an interview via video-chat with composition faculty will be arranged on the designated audition days.
How do I schedule an audition?
Please go to the audition website to request a live audition.
What are my possibilities for financial aid?
All applicants are eligible for music scholarships by auditioning on an orchestral instrument. Through the university at large, graduate students may be eligible to be recommended for academic scholarships (ranging from half to full tuition) based solely upon GRE scores.
If you are a graduate applicant, in order to put yourself in the best possible position for financial aid from both the Departments of Music and the university, you should plan to take the GRE, even though the test is not required for admission by CUA or the Departments of Music.
Also, if you are a vocalist or instrumentalist, you should plan to audition!
Again, even though instrumental/vocal auditions are not currently required of DMA or MM Composition applicants, audition is encouraged.
Performance scholarships are given in return for some service given to the Departments of Music: for example, playing in the orchestra or, if you are a pianist, accompanying or chamber music duties. The applicant should understand that they are also competing with students in those degree areas for said scholarships. As of this writing (Fall 2018), orchestral instruments stand the best chance of winning a performance-based scholarship.
Audition information and dates are available online. If you have further questions about the audition process, please contact (202) 319-5414.
What is the application deadline?
February 1st for financial aid consideration. CUA has a rolling admissions policy, which means that applications are considered (not for aid) after February throughout the summer prior to the fall semester.
I am a graduate applicant interested in theory teaching assistantships. What possibilities exist at CUA?
Teaching opportunities in the undergraduate theory sequence are often available to graduate students as sections and courses are available. Qualified graduate students are compensated via a discount on tuition (up to a certain number of credits) and a small stipend.
However, this is generally done on a case-by-case basis, and assistantships as such are not presently part of the Department's financial aid structure. These assistantships are awarded through competitive audition and seniority. Though they are limited in number, many of our graduate students do obtain significant teaching experience during their time in the Departments of Music.
Auditions for graduate student teachers in theory are typically held each spring semester by the Theory-Composition area. Interested graduate students should contact Dr. Stephen Gorbos, chair of the department of theory, history, and composition via email (GORBOS@cua.edu), and include a resume that outlines relevant experience.
I am interested primarily in electronic composition. Is CUA a good fit for me?
Yes. The Composition program at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art has, in recent years, focused on acoustic composition and the composition of theatrical/stage music. A new electronic studio was established in the Departments of Music in summer 2008, and we are gradually expanding our software and hardware with an eye towards developing a fully-fledged electronic music program. Dr. Stephen Gorbos has been placed in charge of expanding the resources of the electronic studio. The BM Composition curriculum has added a newly-required course, Introduction to Music and Electronic Media, and there is also a topics-based advanced course. We now operate both the general lab for all music students (9 workstations in Ward 211) and the advanced production lab (1 workstation in Ward 32). In addition to the lab computers, the composition area maintains a collection of mics, amps, midi controllers, and other associated hardware to facilitate the interest of our composition students.
What performance possibilities exist at CUA for my music?
CUA student composers enjoy the benefit of many performance possibilities. Each year, we have between 1 - 3 events sponsored by the composition area, which center around concerts of student works. Sometimes these involve group composition projects, where students and faculty write new pieces around a central theme; some of these events are more of a grab-bag of recently finished pieces by students alongside faculty works. Undergraduate major and minors, as well as composers in all of our grad programs, are able to program their works on these concerts.
Our composers also work with the CUA Symphony Orchestra and the CUA Chamber Choir on reading sessions of student works, which are always recorded. We also frequently host guest ensembles/soloists that do readings of student works (recent guests include New Morse Code and SONAR new music).
Each fall, the Departments of Music commissions a student composer (usually a graduate student; every third or fourth year the commission goes to a faculty member) to compose a choral-orchestral fanfare to open its annual televised Christmas Concert in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located on the CUA campus. We have also created several composer-in-residence positions with our major ensembles, which are assigned to our students at the start of each year: the wind ensemble and chamber choir have this each year, and the orchestra is looking to add this as an every-other-year program for our composition students.
Additionally, CUA composers benefit from the Washington, DC area's network of new music organizations: such organizations and ensembles as the District New Music Coalition, Great Noise Ensemble, 21st Century Consort, Contemporary Music Forum, and Washington Music Viva have performed works by CUA students and alumni, and many CUA composers are active in the Washington DC metro area as performers, arts administrators, and conductors.
What kind of music is being written and performed at CUA? Is there a particular "style" which is favored by the academic area, or an expectation of writing in a given way?
To answer the second question first, the short answer is "No." The most important thing at CUA is to make sure that whatever style in which you choose to compose, your works have as much structural and formal coherence and expressive range as possible. Although undergraduate students are often encouraged to widen their stylistic boundaries as they learn new and (to many) unfamiliar repertoire, the emphasis lies principally upon technique and expression, regardless of the style of the music.
To answer the first question, our composers write in a great variety of styles, and cover a broad spectrum of musical interest and practice.
Should I make contact with the faculty/department prior to applying?
Absolutely: please reach out to area head and department chair Dr. Stephen Gorbos (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Who are some CUA alumni, and where are they now?
CUA has produced many fine composers who enjoy successful careers as composers and musicians. Here is a partial list of notable CUA alumni composers.
What graduate programs do recent BM graduates attend?
Recent BM graduates are currently in, or have recently graduated from, graduate composition programs at the Peabody Conservatory, Royal College of Music (London), Boston University, New York University, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
What are students currently enrolled in the Composition program at CUA doing?
Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, and are involved in a wide range of activities.