Skip to main content


Fostering the creative, intelligent, and passionate performance of contemporary music is the mission of the Performance Program of the Department of Music. As once stated by founding faculty composer Robert Erickson, we at UC San Diego are a “community of musicians.”

Performers act and interact in a communal environment by means of collaboration with faculty and student composers, research in the areas of new performance modalities, music technology, and improvisation, among many other pursuits. The performance of contemporary music is viewed as a creative act that balances expertise and exploration.

Graduate performance students pursue either a master of arts or a doctor of musical arts degree in contemporary music performance. The course of study for both programs involves the completion of required graduate seminars and intensive study with a mentoring faculty member. Students are encouraged to adopt a vigorous, exploratory orientation in their private study. Final degree requirements include two recitals and the presentation of personal performance research.

The work of graduate performance students forms an integral component of a rich musical environment, which produces an astonishing quantity and variety of performances. Students may perform in collaborative performances with fellow students and faculty. Ensembles include red fish blue fish, Palimpsest, kallisti, Bass Ensemble and  groups specializing in improvisation and the interpretation of unconventionally notated scores. Student-initiated concerts provide an opportunity for the presentation of a wide variety of work spanning many practices. A strong, collaborative spirit among the curricular areas of the department (Performance, Composition, Computer Music , and Integrative Studies) yields many new projects each year. Works by graduate student composers are performed in the annual Spring Festival and other concert series. The sense of musical community engendered by diverse interactions permeates the atmosphere and makes the Department of Music at UC San Diego a uniquely rewarding place to create the newest of music.