The Butler Composition program provides professional training of the highest calibre and a supportive environment for free creative expression and innovation. We actively recruit applicants of diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences, believing that each student can forge their unique voice through exposure to a wide variety of artistic practices.
We want our students to see every project to fruition by offering many opportunities to have their music heard. There are three regular performance series devoted to that end: CLUTCH, EARS, and The New Music Ensemble. CLUTCH presents a lively, eclectic season of events organized by the students. In addition to collaborating with Butler’s acclaimed performance departments and obtaining quality recordings of their works, students also get the valuable experience in curation, PR, and management. The Electro-Acoustic Recital Series (EARS) concerts, presented by UT Electronic Music Studios (UTEMS), showcase a wide range of approaches to electronic music, including improvisation, fixed-media digital audio works, video, and works for acoustic instruments with digital audio.
The New Music Ensemble presents six full concerts annually of chamber music by living composers and those of the recent past. This group of 16 instrumentalists is made up of the most proficient performance majors in the Butler School of Music, and is widely regarded as one of the best new music ensembles in the country. Since its founding, the ensemble premiered well over 100 new works, including music by internationally famous composers, local and faculty composers, and student composers.
Each year, there are several reading sessions by the School’s large ensembles – the UT Symphony Orchestra and the UT Wind Ensemble. Students also benefit from yearly residencies by guest professional ensembles, such as So Percussion, eighth blackbird, NOW Ensemble, Hub New Music, TAK Ensemble, and string quartets: Brooklyn Rider, Aeolus, Cassatt, and BSOM’s own – the Miró Quartet.
We take a broad view of a composer’s role in society, urging our students to engage with other disciplines as much as possible. Since we are nestled in the College of Fine Arts and are part of a large research university, our students collaborate routinely with choreographers, video artists, theater directors, filmmakers, designers, and engineers. Regular opportunities exist to showcase and document inter-disciplinary work at UT. Chief among them is the bi-annual Cohen New Works Festival, for which many of our composers create operas, musicals, and installations, but also yearly events like “Sound in Sculpture” featuring site-specific performances in partnership with UT Landmarks and “Soundspace” at the Blanton Museum of Art.
We believe that composers benefit from a wide variety of perspectives and pedagogical approaches. For this reason, our students typically receive instruction from everyone on the faculty and take advantage of visiting professors. Additionally, the Visiting Composers’ Series brings an impressive roster of first-rank composers to the UT campus for four-day residencies, during which their music is performed by Butler School of Music students, faculty and guest artists. These composers present public forums on their music, master classes for UT student composers, and attend rehearsals and concerts of their works by the New Music Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Choruses.
Austin has a worldwide reputation as a hip, culturally vibrant city with great live music, food, and a mass of innovative technology startups. Its yearly festivals, such as ACL, SXSW, and Fusebox attract international talent. Such an environment presents a fertile ground for experimentation, leading many of the Butler composers to engage the city’s cultural community by partnering with local arts organizations or creating their own initiatives.