Performance Departments


The Conservatory's Composition Department is committed to developing the complete musician, with performance and musicianship supporting activities in composition. Visiting artists, frequent competitions and inter-departmental collaboration enhance a department directed by world-class faculty, situated in the artistic center of "the composer's city," San Francisco.
Please visit the SFCM Composition Facebook page to see what our students are up to!  You can find the page here
  • Four composition faculty
  • Small department of 30 composers enrolled at any one time
  • Both undergraduate and graduate degrees offered
  • Electronic Composition Studio allows student composers and performers access to the latest electronic instruments and equipment
  • Scholarly courses in composition technique, style and theory offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level
  • Close collaboration between faculty, students and visiting artists
  • Annual collaboration between composition students and specific instrumental departments
  • Extensive performance opportunities
  • Three or more annual concerts of student composer works performed by the New Music Ensemble
  • Annual Highsmith Competition for composition students, with winning piece performed by the Conservatory Orchestra in the season's final concert
  • Annual Conservatory Choral Competition for composition students
  • Annual Conservatory Art Song Competition for composition students and vocalists
  • Annual San Francisco-Shanghai International Music Festival Trio Competition
  • Annual Kris Getz Composition Competition awards a commission to compose a work for young musicians, to be premiered by students in the Preparatory Division
  • San Francisco is described as a "composer's city," with many opportunities to be involved in premieres, work with visiting composers and shape the future of new music
  • Recent guest composers in residence include John Adams (2007-08)
SFCM Alumni Composer Selections:

SFCM New Music Gathering Clips:

Composition Department Events: 2015-2016

Dec 5 | Del Sol String Quartet: Featuring a world premiere for guitar and string quartet by Terry Riley

Dec 13 | Life in the '70's at SFCM: Special guest John Adams and Mack McCray piano

Mar 6 Hot Air Music Festival

Orchestra readings will occur each semester, the time is currently TBA

 Composition Department Concerts: 2015-2016

Nov 1 | David Conte composition: "60th Birthday Concert" Works of Conte and SFCM alumni

Nov 13 | Composition Department Recital

Dec 7 | Composition Department Recital

Dec 14 | Composition Department Recital

Apr 4 | David Garner '79 composition: Selections from Mary Pleasant At Land's End and a premiere of a vocal chamber-work

Apr 8 | Composition Department Recital


Elinor Armer
David Conte chair, composition department
David Garner
Mason Bates

 We encourage prospective students to contact the composition faculty to arrange a consultative lesson. The composition faculty and the Office of Admission are happy to answer any specific questions that you have about our program. 




New Music Ensemble

Composition Workshop

Composition Seminar