The Division of Theory and Composition offers Bachelor's of Music, Master's of Music, and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees. The curricula of these degree programs offer students maximum flexibility in pursuit of their musical interests and career goals. The traditional core courses in music history and theory have been streamlined to increase the number of hours available for individual electives. Students may utilize their elective hours freely, or may devote them to an official emphasis area (including conducting, electronic & computer music, ethnomusicology, jazz studies, music theory, musicology, or an applied instrument).
The New Music Ensemble, directed by Professor Dan Welcher, presents six full concerts annually of chamber music by living composers and those of the recent past. This group of sixteen instrumentalists and singers 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 he assumed the Directorship of the group in 1979, Dan Welcher has conducted the premieres of well over 100 new works, including music by internationally famous composers, local and faculty composers, and student composers.
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. Since its inception in 1995, the Visiting Composers' Series has captured the attention of the national media, as it is one of the few of its kind that bring diverse performance groups together on a monthly basis to perform major works of the leading composers of our time. These concerts have introduced to Texas audiences such works as Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (with New York Philharmonic Principal Percussionist Chris Lamb as soloist) and John Corigliano's A Dylan Thomas Trilogy for soloists, double chorus, and large orchestra.
The University of Texas at Austin's Electronic Music Studios (UTEMS) are among the most extensive and technologically advanced of any university in the country. Works created by UT faculty and student composers have been performed at important conferences and festivals all over the world, including the International Computer Music Conference, ISCM, SEAMUS and SCI Conferences, and the Bourges Concours International de Musique Electronique. They have also been recorded on Centaur, CRI, Folkways, and other well-known contemporary music labels, and included on CDs produced by the International Computer Music Association and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS). UT composition students concentrating in electronic music have won 9 Fulbright fellowships, 6 Bourges prizes, 14 ASCAP/SEAMUS student awards, and 3 Luigi Russolo Prizes, among other prestigious awards. Over thirty recent graduates of the UT composition degree programs now hold full-time teaching positions involving electronic music.
The Film and Media Scoring Studio is a 24 track, all digital Project Studio including a suite of professional sample libraries and sound processing software used by film and game composers plus 5.1 surround mixing and monitoring. Composition students enrolled in the Film and Media Scoring graduate courses are encouraged to work collaboratively with film and video makers in the Department of Radio-Television-Film.
UT Student composers have access to regular readings by the UT Symphony Orchestra, UT Wind Ensemble, and the resident faculty string quartet. There are also numerous opportunities for performance at the Butler School of Music. In addition to the four CLUTCH concerts each year, which are devoted exclusively to the performance of student works, the New Music Ensemble performs one student work in each concert, and composers of electroacoustic and mixed media works can participate in the EARS (Electro-Acoustic Recital Series) and EARS & Feet (annual collaborations with the Department of Theatre & Dance) productions. There is also an official student composition website that serves as a hub for current news, information, and opportunities.
In addition to providing a conservatory-class music education, the Butler School of Music, in conjunction with the large and diverse College of Fine Arts and The University of Texas as a whole, strives to provide a comprehensive arts and social education for a viable life and career in music.