At the Conservatory, we believe a student composer learns most by composing. For four years, music composition students spend extensive time studying composition under the guidance of faculty composers, writing works for a variety of ensembles, studying the compositional techniques of their own time, and working to develop their own compositional voice. During their four years at Pacific, students write music for solo instrument, duos, trios, mixed and/or homogeneous ensembles, voice, chorus, percussion, computer, and larger musical forces. They study music from western and non-western sources - old and new, vocal and instrumental, composed and improvised, acoustic and technological. They learn to use the tools of new technology as creative resources, in the studio and on the stage. Whether at the piano or at the computer, compositional tools are always taught as a means for furthering the creative act.
The learning process for a young composer is only complete once they hear their work in a public concert. A unique relationship exists here at Pacific between the composition department and the chamber music performance program. Student compositions are performed each term in Composers Club concerts by students from the Chamber Ensemble class thus guaranteeing this important stage in the compositional process. As students progress to larger works, readings and performances can be arranged with the conductors of the orchestra, band, or choral ensembles. In their senior year student composers write a work for large ensemble forces (orchestra, band, chorus with ensemble, opera, music and film, etc). This is then presented on their senior recital along with works from previous years.
Student composers at Pacific have taken advantage of the opportunity to study and network with young composers abroad. Composition students have participated in both the American Conservatory, Fontainebleau, France, and the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, Germany, as well as composition workshops at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and California Summer Music.
After graduation, many composers continue their study at major graduate schools throughout the United States and Canada. Recent alumni composers have pursued graduate work at Mannes College The New School for Music and the Manhattan School of Music, New York; The Yale School of Music; McGill University, Montreal; University of Missouri Kansas City; San Francisco Conservatory; University of California, Berkeley; Mills College; and the University of Oregon. Others hone their skills in the professional world of music or use their music composition experience as a foundation for activities or further studies in conducting, performance, theory, and/or teaching.
Music Composition Faculty
Robert Coburn, Program Director for Music Composition (on sabbatical 2011-2012)
Professor of Music Composition and Theory, 1993
B.M., University of the Pacific
M.A., University of California-Berkeley
Ph.D., University of Victoria in Canada
Professor of Music Composition and Theory, 1997
B.M., M.M., McGill University
Ph.D., University of California-San Diego
Lecturer of Music Theory and Music History, 1998
B.M., M.M., University of Oregon
D.M.A., Boston University