Composition at the School of Music is a diverse, active and eclectic department. We teach composition at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level.
Before coming to study at university, many students have a very mixed background in composition teaching, but after starting in year 1 many find that it is one of their favourite elements of their undergraduate degree. Many of our composition students opt to continue to study for a Masters and PhD in composition. Several alumni of the School have gone on to become active professional composers.
We offer a wide range of composition modules throughout the undergraduate and Masters programmes along with a range of additional technical and musicology modules.
Guest composers, professional performers and ensembles regularly visit the School to carry out composition workshops and seminars. This gives you an opportunity to hear your music come to life and gain practical experience of working with performers to realise your compositional ideas in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Weekly composition seminars
Our composers welcome invited guests to talk on a wide range of important issues relevant to the discipline. These seminars can include discussions with visiting composers; presentations from PhD students; and analysis of compositional techniques.
Annual composition showcase
Our postgraduate composers organise an annual showcase concert featuring recent works by our current students; it is one of the highlights of the concert series during the spring semester. Our PhD composers also organise concerts of compositions by Year 1 and 2 students.
‘Composer in focus’ study day
Each year, Dr Daniel Bickerton organises an opportunity for undergraduate and postgraduate composers to celebrate the work of a featured composer in their own unique way. Student composers have the opportunity to hear their works performed in an afternoon concert following intensive morning of workshops and seminar discussions with guest speakers.
Previous celebrations have included the Britten Centenary (2013), ‘The Triumph of Time?’ Responses to Birtwistle at 80 (2014), La Monte Young at 80 (2015), and Reich at 80 (2016). The 2017 composer in focus will be Howard Skempton.
Composition staff have established national and international profiles. Works by composers at Cardiff University have been performed and commissioned by a range of companies including the New York Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, South African National Youth Orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, London Sinfonietta, Cape Town Opera and the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra.
Our composition staff are: