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Music composition at the School of Creative Arts, University of Ulster

With four professional composers on our staff, excellent concert and recording facilities and a range of compositional activity that includes contemporary concert music, songwriting, electroacoustic composition, sound installation and composing for the screen, composition at the University of Ulster continues to go from strength to strength.


Our aim is to help students discover and develop their own creative voice while acquiring knowledge in the techniques and art of composition by delivering courses that explore all forms of contemporary composing – from instrumental and vocal composition to electronic music - as well as providing numerous opportunities for students to have their music performed and recorded.


Composers’ Concerts showcasing student works feature prominently in our lunchtime recital series. The University also helps facilitate external performances for undergraduate and postgraduate composers such as the annual CMC music marathon. Meanwhile, the School’s multimedia collective, Deme, serves as a platform for composers to experiment with collaborative work with our sister subjects of dance, design and drama – recent performances include high profile events at venues in Belfast and London.


The University also stages a number of concerts and workshops by high-profile performers of contemporary music over the year both as part of and in addition to our Ensemble-in-Residence programme. This enables students to have pieces workshopped and performed by some of the finest musicians working in new music today, an opportunity afforded by few other institutions. Recent visitors include Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea (violin and piano), Juice Vocal Ensemble, Paul Roe (clarinet) and the new music group, Decibel.


Several distinguished composers have also visited the School over recent years to give masterclasses, group seminars and individual tuition to our composition students. These include Michael Finnissy, Martin Kutnowski and Ed Bennett. The appointment of one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated composers, Brian Irvine, as visiting professor of music at the School of Creative Arts has further enhanced our profile as a centre for compositional excellence.


BMus students are introduced to a variety of compositional techniques and approaches in their first year including songwriting and ensemble arranging. Those opting to take composition in second and third year encounter a more rigorous programme of compositional study including large-scale works and the study of orchestration. Studio-based composition including electroacoustic music is covered in aspects of the Music Technology provision while a large portion of the Music and Moving Image module is devoted to composing for screen.


Those speciliasing in composition (instrumental and electronic) on the MMus programme are given the chance to both consolidate and develop their craft through an intensive programme of project work across a variety of musical canvases and professional contexts. Students receive individual supervision from a member of the composing staff while group seminars provide a platform for critical reflection, discussion and analytical work. Concerts and workshops dedicated exclusively to the work of our MMus students are held throughout the year. Meanwhile, Music’s place within the School of Creative Arts affords a wealth of possibilities for those interested in composing for dance, moving image and theatre.


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University of Ulster Choir