[CUA Office of Public Affairs]   

   Dec. 3, 2004


CUA to Offer New Master’s Degree in Music Composition

Courses Will Emphasize Composing for Dance, Opera, Music Theater


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Starting in fall 2005, Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will offer a two-year program — unique in the Washington, D.C., area — that will train composers to write for a variety of genres, including dance, opera and music theater.


Developed to fill a void in music education — the training of composers interested in writing for genres in addition to symphonic or chamber music — CUA’s Master of Music in Composition, Stage Music Emphasis, is one of only two such programs in the country, according to Andrew Simpson, associate professor of music and program coordinator.

Murry Sidlin, dean of the music school, says “There’s a real need for this kind of training but a distinct lack of programs. Learning to compose stage music is generally done through workshops or an apprentice arrangement. We feel that we’re well positioned at CUA to offer something really innovative in composing for the stage.”

The curriculum for the new program includes many of the basic elements of the music school’s existing Master of Music in Composition, Concert Music Emphasis. But the new program also includes a focus on developing the skills needed to create music for dance, opera and music theater performances, which tend to involve a more collaborative process than composing for orchestra. 

“A composer writing music for a play or a dance has to collaborate with the director to achieve the director’s vision for the performance,” says Simpson. “The CUA program will provide that critical training.”


Students will have opportunities to work with artists who are members of the “vibrant” performing arts community at CUA and in the greater Washington area, Simpson says. The program also will offer student internships at dance, opera and theater companies in the Washington area, possibly writing music for a class or a performance. In addition to an internship, students will be required to complete a final thesis project as well as coursework and special workshops.


At Joy of Motion Dance Center based in Washington, which is developing an internship for the program, a CUA student might compose music for dance numbers or possibly write a score for the center’s Web site, says Douglas Yeuell, the center’s executive director. Joy of Motion, which offers classes at several sites around the Washington area, would structure internships to complement the interests of individual students, Yeuell adds.


In addition to the new master’s program, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs that include music theater and opera. At the music school, students train with professors who are also working singers, musicians and conductors. Fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the music school is Washington, D.C.’s only university school of music. Graduates perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Opera, New York City Opera and every major U.S. symphony orchestra.


For graduate programs, the music school has a rolling admissions process and is accepting applications now for the program. For more information, click on http://music.cua.edu/stagemusic/ or contact Simpson at 202-319-5564 or simpson@cua.edu.


MEDIA: To cover the program, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.




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Revised: 12/3/2004

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The Catholic University of America,
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