Composition at Arts Academy
Why Study Composition
If you love composing for your instrument or for your friends, come work with Interlochen faculty to develop your skills and nurture your talent. We provide superior instruction with opportunities to collaborate with performers and other artists. You'll emerge from our program a technically proficient, well-versed composer who can participate in any number of artistic projects.
What You'll Learn
In our Composition major, you'll take a combination of private composition lessons, studio classes with other composers, music theory and performance classes. You'll study the craft of composition with a focus on learning today's techniques and trends. You'll also continue to progress in your primary instrument through lessons and performing in ensembles.
Your accomplished instructors will help you with counterpoint, form, proportion, orchestration, notation, and other concepts to meet your individual aspirations. Your works will be performed by our outstanding Interlochen student musicians throughout the year. In addition, you'll be encouraged to collaborate with students in other artistic disciplines such as: composing scores for film, dance, and art song. Our instructors serve as professional role models, while providing mentorship, constructive criticism, and individual attention to help you express your unique artistic vision. They will also assist you in planning for the future, pointing you towards conservatory or college programs that will take your talent to the next level.
As a student in the Composition program, you will:
- Compose original music for a variety of instruments and voices
- Establish a unique style for your work that expresses your artistic vision
- Prepare scores and parts for rehearsals
- Organize rehearsals with the help of composition faculty
- Participate in concerts which feature your music and provide a recording of the performance for your portfolio
- Study and analyze musical scores in a variety of styles
- Orchestrate music in various styles for ensembles of varying sizes and instrumentation
- Evaluate the historical, social, and cultural context of musical compositions that inspire your own writing
- Collaborate within the music department and with peers in other arts areas
For more information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.
A recipient of the American Prize, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs an advanced repertoire that includes symphonies, concerti, contemporary works, and original compositions.
The American Prize-winning Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Symphony presents a diverse and challenging repertoire in regular live, prerecorded, and public radio performances.
The Choir welcomes students of all majors who are passionate about singing—presenting works from a variety of genres, musical eras, and geographic origins and performs regularly at events both on and off campus.
At Interlochen, we have hosted many guest composers. These composers share their own work, review student pieces, and share ideas with our studio. Some of our guest composers include:
MaryClare Brzytwa, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Kenji Bunch, composer
Matthew Burtner, composer
Jennifer Higdon, composer
Jonathan Bailey Holland, composer
Clint Needham, composer
Jamie Leigh Sampson, composer
Jim Stevenson, composer
Steven Stucky, composer
As a Composition major, you'll have the opportunity to present your work 4-5 times during the school year in Composers' Forums. These concerts are set aside for the composers to showcase their new pieces. These pieces might be instrumental/vocal only or they might include collaborations with dancers, filmmakers and other artists. Composers and Composition Faculty work with student performers to rehearse the new works and have them ready for performance.
Composition students have access to the Composition Lab—a workspace dedicated for composers to focus on their own pieces, along with access to a piano, superior speakers for playback, and computers equipped with the latest technology and programs.
The Music Center
Our state-of-the-art 60,000 square-foot music facility has two 3,500 square-foot rehearsal halls, two recording studios—which allow for rehearsal and performance recordings in multiple venues on campus—multiple ensemble and practice rooms, and individual faculty teaching studios. Learn more about The Music Center.
My time at the Academy has been exceptional. I have grown so much both academically and artistically. I have found a taste for sound that I never imagined I would enjoy: dissonance. I love contemporary music: I love writing it, and I love the mathematical ways we are allowed to create music. Within a year of being here, my sound as a composer has changed and become more… me.
Composing for the greater good
Emerging composer TJ Cole (IAC 03, 06, 08-09, IAA 10-12) has an astonishing list of accolades. But one of her greatest achievements may be collaborating with Project HOME, an organization that helps homeless adults and families find permanent housing.
Composition students regularly enroll in top music programs and conservatories including:
Berklee College of Music
Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Cleveland Institute of Music
Curtis Institute of Music
Johns Hopkins University
The Juilliard School
New York University
Oberlin College and Conservatory
Royal Academy of Music
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
State University of New York at Fredonia
University of Michigan
University of Rochester
University of Southern California