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)
Composition Department Events: 2014-2015

Sep. 5 | Guest Lecturer: Carlisle Floyd (composer, Susannah)

Oct. 3 | BluePrint New Music Creative Conversations: Elinor Armer

Oct. 31—Nov. 2 | Video Game Scoring Workshop (cosponsored by SFCM and ACF)

Nov. 14 | BluePrint New Music Creative Conversations: John Glover

Nov. 18 | New Music Ensemble excerpt readings

Mar. 13 | BluePrint New Music Creative Conversations: Robin Estrada ('05)

Mar. 15 | Hot Air Music Festival! Sixth annual, student/alumni-run all-day New Music Marathon

Mar. 17 | New Music Ensemble Readings

Mar. 18 | Biennial Art Song Competition

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

 Composition Department Concerts: 2014-2015

Sep. 19 | American Composers Forum Concert (featuring works by SFCM Faculty)

Oct. 4 | BluePrint New Music Series: From The Heart (music by Elinor Armer and Dan Becker)

Nov. 10 | Composition Department Recital

Nov. 15 | BluePrint New Music Series: Natural Systems (featuring music by Conrad Susa)

Dec. 6 | New Music Ensemble Concert

Jan. 29 | Cello Project Concert

Feb. 6 | Faculty Concert, featuring works of David Conte and Conrad Susa

Feb. 7 & 9 | Conservatory Orchestra performs Nathan Campbell ('14) Lunar Prelude

Mar. 14 | BluePrint New Music Series: Exotic Soundscapes

Mar. 20 | Faculty Concert, featuring works for strings and piano by Elinor Armer

Apr. 7 | New Music Ensemble Concert

Apr. 25 | 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