As a music composition student at Western Michigan University, there are many opportunities to learn, collaborate, and have your work performed. Each year the composition faculty organizes readings of student works by professional ensembles and masterclasses with visiting composers. The composition studio organizes four concerts per year in which student composers collaborate with WMU musicians and artists in other disciplines such as dance. Additionally, we have two important internal annual competitions.
The Franklin G Fisk Composition Award is a yearly award made to a young and promising composer in the WMU community. It is made possible by a generous donation of the Fisk family in commemoration of Franklin G. Fisk, a former professor at WMU and integral member of the community who loved and supported classical music throughout his life. The award is externally adjudicated and the recipient is provided with a cash prize and a performance of the winning work by WMU’s new music chamber ensemble, Birds on a Wire.
The WMU Large Ensemble Award is annually awarded to a composer at WMU for the commission of a new work of “peaceful music” for a large ensemble, rotating between symphonic orchestra, wind ensemble and choir. The commission includes a cash prize, performance of the new work, and guidance by both the composition faculty and the ensemble director throughout the process.
Each year the Western Student Composer's Alliance manages four concerts dedicated to the presentation of new work by student composers. These concerts feature performance by Western's excellent student performers and ensembles. These concerts also feature multimedia works presented with a state-of-the-art sound system.
There are readings of student wind ensemble works every year, typically in the fall semester, and readings of orchestral works by student composers each spring semester. The composition studio regularly organizes additional reading sessions with guest ensembles. Students have received readings with some of the most celebrated new music groups in the United States, including Ensemble Dal Niente, Mivos String Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Spectral String Quartet.
The composition area works to foster entrepreneurial skills in our students. We encourage student composers to have their works performed off-campus. We offer support in lessons and a class on professional development to prepare composers for their post-academic careers. The composition faculty assists students in the preparation of their scores and recordings for external opportunities, readings, competitions, and festivals as part of private lesson instruction.