Bachelor of Music in Composition (Concert Music)
The Bachelor of Music in Composition with an Emphasis in Concert Music is a course of study that equips students with a versatile skill set tailored for a range of career paths, from professional composer to songwriting to film and video game scoring.
The curriculum is comprehensive, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Students take challenging courses in music theory and history, performance pedagogy and literature, counterpoint and arranging, conducting, and at least six semesters of study in music composition. While the primary focus is on contemporary concert music, many other styles and technologies are explored, such as jazz, electronic, computer, and MIDI applications. Composition students have the opportunity to perform in recitals, compose and orchestrate pieces, play in large and small ensembles, and present a senior recital of original works.
Bachelor of Music in Composition (BM)
Find out more about the overall curriculum, electives and learning outcomes for a BM in Composition degree at Webster.
Special Study Opportunities
The Wet Ink Project is a cornerstone of the concert music emphasis and allows students to work closely with professional musicians. Unlike many other programs, Wet Ink provides a tangible platform for emerging composers to hear their work performed live, offering invaluable, real-world experience in the collaborative process of music creation and performance.
Wet Ink pairs Webster composition students with professional performers to create and showcase new pieces. This year's ensemble-in-residence is the Clarion Brass Quintet, provided by Chamber Project Saint Louis, a local organization known for their diverse chamber music and audience engagement. Throughout the year, each student will craft a new piece for the ensemble. The process begins in September when students are introduced to the ensemble and its capabilities. Informed by this understanding, students proceed to compose their pieces, which are read and critiqued by the ensemble in January. Students revise their works based on the feedback and then hear their creations come to life in rehearsals and at the recorded Wet Ink concert.
The New Music Ensemble explores contemporary acoustic, electronic, MIDI and improvisational works by Webster students and faculty, as well as major composers from the 20th and 21st century. Membership is open to instrumentalists and singers of all background experiences. The ensemble rehearses on Tuesdays from 5–6:20 p.m. Auditions are held during the first Tuesday class meeting. The group performs at least one concert each semester.
As a student musician, seize the opportunity to hone your skills in Vienna, home to legendary composers Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss. Students typically attend the Vienna campus during the spring semester of their junior year. Study jazz with a Viennese artist, take courses in music history (including Vienna's music traditions), and experience the vibrancy of Europe's musical capital!
Text on screen: Student Spotlight, Music Composition (BM)
Text on screen: Mika W.
[The still introduction photo changes to an interview close up of Mika.]
I think if you really want a place that's going to set you up for the career that you want, I feel like Webster is the perfect place for that.
[A photo montage of students, professors, guest speakers, etc. in the music program.]
Especially for the music program, because of all the connections that they have, the opportunities that they provide us… Especially in senior year with being able to go to Vienna, which, you know, is the birthplace of so much great music. I think that's a really great opportunity.
[Several video clips of bustling Vienna and orchestral beginnings, followed by more photos of students and professors in the music program.]
Being a composition major, the staff here at Webster are so wonderful and they have so much field experience that they get to provide to us students. They don't cut any corners at all.
[A poster highlighting Steve Burns as a guest speaker.]
Text on screen: STEVE BURNS, Actor | “Steve” from Blue’s Clues | Musician
Text on screen: Monday, April 4th 2022, 7:00pm Loretto-Hilton Center
When Steve Burns came to Webster -- the man behind Blue's Clues -- Blue's Clues was a really big part of my childhood. And seeing him and the fact that he also does music…
[Various photos of Steve Burns as a guest speaker or with students are intertwined with interview clips of Mika.]
I got to ask him a question about possibly being a children's music performer and artist. He provided a lot of good feedback and that was a great experience overall. I actually studied here since I was a child at Webster Community Music School. So I felt like this was the best home to come back to.
[The interview shot of Mika W. fades away as Webster logo slides up from the bottom of the screen.]
Text on screen: Webster University, webster.edu/music
Experienced Music Faculty
Comprised of professional composers and songwriters who are actively engaged in the music industry, composition faculty bring firsthand experience from their own professional journeys, providing students with mentorship that's deeply rooted in industry realities. Students not only learn the theory but also gain insights into the current trends, technologies, and opportunities in the field.
To learn more about our program and course offerings, email Prof. Kim Portnoy, Director of Composition.
Composition students are trained in traditional composition but also exposed to film scoring, video game audio design, and songwriting, among other career-oriented disciplines. This comprehensive approach equips students with a versatile skill set, preparing them for a range of career paths after graduation in the ever-evolving music landscape, including:
- Commissioned concert music composer (orchestra, band, choir, chamber music)
- Film composer
- Video game composer
- Freelance songwriter
- Music producer
- Recording artist
- Conductor/music director of a music ensemble
- Sound designer
- College professor (composition, theory, aural skills)
- Music scholar (musicologist/music theorist)
- Music editor
- Music copyist
Though a bachelor’s degree is an essential first step, many students choose to pursue graduate studies in composition to help them become competitive in these fields. Webster alumni have been accepted to some of the most prestigious graduate programs in the country, including Indiana University, USC, NYU and UMKC.
Recent graduates of the composition program have explored a diverse range of career paths and continued their studies at prestigious graduate programs.
- Louis Goldford, Concert music composer and music scholar, Fulbright Scholar
- Mary Robinson, Composer and sound designer for theatre and film
- Noah Valenti, NYU graduate student
- Hunter Johnson, IU graduate student
"I got into music at 12, when I picked up a guitar. After about two years I started writing, and put together a band to realize my dream of becoming a rock star. As my bands came and went, I learned the value of writing music that I enjoy listening to. I started a video game scoring company (Fat Bard) with my engineer and mentor during my senior year of high school and began to really dig into electronic music and MIDI composition when I entered Webster as a freshman. Webster was the obvious choice for me because of the small student/professor ratio, and I made the switch from performance to music composition to expose myself to new ways of thinking about writing and music itself. For me, music is a never-ending search for something new and exciting, and even if I’m the only one geeking out about it, that’s OK with me."
Freelance film composer
"Originally, I wasn’t going to be a composer; I was also accepted into the film department at Webster and planned on doing that. However, the Department of Music offered me a wonderful scholarship, and it was too good to pass up. To this day, I am so glad that I decided to go with music and be a composer. The Department of Music became my home away from home. The composition program, though small, is very thorough and filled with extremely knowledgeable professors. The one-on-one mentorship that I received at Webster is the one thing that really benefited me the most. I developed so much as a composer and learned techniques that I will use for the rest of my life."
Nashville-based recording artist
"The professors at Webster University played such a major role in my life. I was able to take private lessons and courses in theory, audio and music business. Webster gives a strong foundation that prepares each person to go out into the world. Some of my fondest memories have happened at Webster, and some of my best relationships have been made at Webster. And I am forever grateful for that."
Webster Holds Longtime NASM Membership
Webster University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). An important marker of standing among music programs in the U.S., NASM establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for music and music-related disciplines.
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