Faculty Profile: David Conte, composition chair


Now accepting applications
for Fall 2017 enrollment.

Application deadline is December 1. Apply now →




  • 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 (Viola; Cello; Piano; Guitar, etc.)
  • Extensive performance opportunities, including two department concerts each year for works for 1-4 players, and three concerts each year with varied student chamber ensmbles (Pierrot ensemble; chamber orchestra; winds only, etc.)
  • 4 readings per year of student compositions by the Conservatory Orchestra
  • Annual Highsmith Competition for composition students, with winning piece performed by the Conservatory Orchestra in the season's final concert
  • Biennial Choral Composition Competition, with cash prizes
  • Biennial Art Song Competition, with cash prizes
  • Annual San Francisco-Shanghai Conservatory Chamber Music Competition for student work
  • 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 composer masterclasses include: John Adams, Kaija Saariaho, Caroline Shaw, John Corigliano, many others


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.

SFCM Alumni Composer Selections:

SFCM New Music Gathering Clips:

Composition Department Events: 2015-2016

Sep 8 | Steve Reich Visits, evening of performance and discussion

Jan 23 | Faculty Artist Series: Maryclare Brzytwa (Technology & Applied Composition)

Feb 16 | Master Class: Steve Schick (composer and percussionist)

Feb 27 | Faculty Artist Series: David Conte (Chair, Composition)

Mar 5 | Hot Air Music Festival

Two orchestra readings will occur each semester, dates are TBA

Composition Department Concerts: 2015-2016

Sep 21 | New Music Ensemble (works by Hans Werner Henze and Giya Kancheli)

Oct 29 | Viola Project XI (world premieres of solo and chamber viola music)

Nov 4 | New Music Ensemble: Pre-Election Concert (works by Ted Hearne and Frederic Rzewski)


Nov 17 | Composition Department Recital


Dec 2 | The Living Earth Show at SFCM: with Ted Hearne, David Coll, and Philip White


Jan 20 | San Francisco Contemporary Players



Feb 14 | Composition Department Recital


Apr 19 | New Music Ensemble: Concert featuring Lou Harrison's The man, the poet, the artist.






Composition Workshop

Composition Seminar


New Music Ensemble