6. University of Southern California Thornton School of Music – Los Angeles, CA
Notable Faculty: Stephen Hartke, Frank Ticheli, Morten Lauridsen, Andrew Norman, Donald Crockett
Led by some of the prominent composers working in today’s musical world, including the immensely popular band composer Frank Ticheli, the Grammy-winning composer Stephen Hartke, and an accomplished generation of rising composers, including Andrew Norman and Ted Hearne, the University of Southern California is one of the most interesting programs in the nation today. Possibly the most desirable composition studio in all of California, students of the program have won many of the most prestigious prizes in music composition, including the ASCAP Morton Gould Prize as well as the BMI Student Composer award, and have gone on to respectable careers in concert and commercial music industries.
Their most famous alumnus is probably the composer to the Battlestar Galactica series.
5. Cornell University (Graduate Only) – Ithaca, NY
Notable Faculty: Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra
Students of this institution, accepted only at the graduate level, are allotted stipends that are paramount to a starting salary to focus solely on their artistic creations. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky heads a department of composers who regularly achieve and maintain residencies at artist colonies, acceptances into exclusive summer music programs, and prizes in the highest volume competitions. Although there is no performance department at this school for the composers to channel their music into, the institution hosts a very impressive contemporary ensemble that performs the works of the student composers.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964
4. The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance – Ann Arbor, MI
Notable Faculty: Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Evan Chambers, Kristin Kuster, Erik Santos, Paul Schoenfield
Led by Grammy-winning composer Michael Daugherty and MacArthur fellow Bright Sheng, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has long been considered the midwest’s highest authority for contemporary classical composition. Founded on a tradition of American classical pluralism by Professor Emeritus William Bolcom, the composers here regularly find themselves turning out music of variety, thriving in an atmosphere guided by principles of both the traditional past and the populist present.
Alumni of the department regularly find employment in top academies and universities throughout the world, with several of their students going on to very successful careers as established composers, like this guy.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Michael Daugherty’s Grammy-winning Metropolis Symphony.