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About the Department of Music

Experimentation is the DNA of UC San Diego's Department of Music. Courses cover a range of genres and periods, but the core mission is new frontiers in composition, performance, and research.

UC San Diego's Department of Music was founded by Will Ogdon and Robert Erickson in 1966. The two innovative composers shared a belief that the most effective educational environment brings together the finest faculty with gifted graduate students in a challenging, supportive environment that encourages each student to find his or her own path. Today, the Department of Music offers graduate degree programs in Composition, Computer Music, Integrative Studies, and Performance.

Ogdon and Erickson believed that the experience of making music should be the focus for the Composition and Performance programs. The Department of Music presents more than 100 concerts during the academic year. Student composers and performers create new works that often premiere in the department's Conrad Prebys Concert Hall or Experimental Theater. The department's resident ensembles include red fish blue fish (percussion); Palimpsest (new and experimental music); kallisti (voice and chamber opera); the Gospel Choir; as well as Jazz, Wind, Chamber, and Indian Classical Music Ensembles.

Internationally renowned artists often visit UC San Diego for residencies, during which they refine and record new works, present master classes, critique student compositions, and perform public concerts. The department's list of visiting artists has included the Arditti Quartet, John Cage, Percussion Group Cincinnati, Brian Ferneyhough, Helmut Lachenmann, Toru Takemitsu, Iannis Xenakis, Fritz Hauser, and Han Bennink.

Computer Music degree candidates and undergraduate majors will find that the Conrad Prebys Music Center is equipped with the latest software, sound, and computer technology. Research projects explore how new technologies can be applied to music. These projects range from collaborations with film director George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch to new compositions that incorporate a range of technologies and media.

A number of graduate students from diverse backgrounds elect to pursue degrees in Integrative Studies, which promotes an engagement with contemporary music and discourse that integrates varied methodologies, experiences, learning styles, and resources. The IS graduate program draws from fields including cultural theory, new media studies, ethnomusicology, improvisation, cognitive science, and systems theory. IS faculty members include Jann Pasler, a filmmaker, scholar, and author of several critically acclaimed books, including Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France; and Nancy Guy, an ethnomusicologist and author of Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan.

Over the years, several faculty members have earned Pulitzer, Guggenheim, MacArthur, and Grawemeyer awards. In 2009, Roger Reynolds became the University of California's first arts faculty member honored as a University Professor, the UC system's highest level of recognition for faculty.