The Bachelor of Arts in Composition is specifically interested in welcoming composers who demonstrate extraordinary intellectual curiosity and whose primary goal is to communicate with others on a profoundly human level. The program emphasizes the collaborative relationship between composers and performers in such a way that a simulated professional experience is achieved. The school’s renowned composition faculty expect students to acquire and master basic skills, which involves an intensive study of: music theory (written and oral), counterpoint, orchestration, analysis, technology, performance, the traditional Western canon and its history, in tandem with the study of popular, jazz, rock, folk, and non-Western traditions. Students who successfully complete the B.A. at UCLA are prepared to enter the professional world as practicing artists, film composers, or to continue with graduate studies at the highest level.

Featured Alumni

Jake Heggie ’84, M.A. ’05

B.A. Composition ’84, M.A. Composition ’05

Jake Heggie is an American composer of opera, vocal, orchestral and chamber music. He is best known for his operas and art songs, as well as for his collaborations with internationally-renowned performers and writers. Hailed by the Associated Press as “one of the pre-eminent contemporary opera composers,” Heggie is most known for his contributions to the American operatic repertoire, which includes “Dead Man Walking,” “Moby-Dick,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Three Decembers,” among others. His work has been produced on five continents at some of the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls. In September 2021, “Dead Man Walking” received its 71st production at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway, making it the most widely performed American opera of the 21st century.

Read more to learn about his experiences at UCLA, the silver linings of challenges throughout his career and advice for young musical artists.

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Composition Faculty

Dante De Silva
Lecturer - Composition, Music Theory
Ian Krouse
Distinguished Professor
David Lefkowitz
Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Music
Hitomi Oba
Director of Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, Lecturer
Shahāb Pāranj
Composition – Lecturer and Postdoctoral Scholar, Contemporary concert music
Kay Rhie
Assistant Professor
Bruins Who Score- UCLA's film composition students
Anything but generic, UCLA’s Composing for Visual Media Program, which awarded its first degree in 2008, provides exposure to a broad range of musical styles, as well as what Lefkowitz calls a “focus on fundamentals” — long a hallmark of UCLA’s curriculum.
Richard Danielpour presents The Passion of Yeshua at the Oregon Bach Festival
“Yeshua,” co-commissioned by OBF, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, will receive another performance in December at UCLA.
‘Inside the (G)Earbox: John Adams @ 70’: an up-close look at America’s most innovative composer
Composer John Adams turns 70 this month, and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is joining the world-wide celebration with a daylong symposium, “Inside the (G)Earbox: John Adams @ 70,” that explores the more intimate side of this composer’s work and process. The program will be held March 4 at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall. Curated
Composer Jon Jang will be artist-in-residence at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology will welcome pianist and composer Jon Jang for a week-long artist residency, from Jan. 16-20. Jang’s music has been likened in the New York Times to the “… ‘Third Stream’ composers of the 50’s who married jazz and classical music. Jang honors his two idioms
GRAMMY Nominations at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The 60th GRAMMY Award nominations, announced recently by the Recording Academy, include a handful of UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music faculty, artists-in-residence, staff or alumni, among them Richard Danielpour, Billy Childs, Chris Potter, Daniel Seeff and Randy Newman. Award-winning composer and Professor of Composition Music Richard Danielpour tops the list. He is competing for
UCLA to host first piano festival devoted to contemporary canonic works
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music presents the “Dialogues and Re-imaginings Piano Festival,” a three-day event that will feature the responses of contemporary composers to canonic works for the piano.

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