Bachelor of Arts in Music
The B.A. Major in Music at Gonzaga University with an emphasis on music composition follows the methodology of Nadia Boulanger, the French composition instructor of several noted American composers including Roy Harris and Aaron Copland.
Students begin with chant like single melodies in order to learn the importance of differentiating pitch and rhythmic designs while gaining understanding in the use of tempo, dynamics and articulation marks. They then compose a song cycle in which they set three or more related poems to music for solo voice and piano. They next turn to an instrumental suite of five or six short pieces for a duo of their choice of instruments. Later they write a choral piece and an instrumental solo piece of some length. Students move through the course at their own pace, but usually completion of the program takes four semesters.
Each student meets weekly with the instructor for the purpose of either monitoring the work in progress or for establishing parameters for a new composition. Once a week, a full meeting of all composition students enables the group to hear and evaluate compositions by others in the program.
The requirement of Portfolio concerts, one at the Junior level and the other at the Senior level, enables the composition majors to see their work through to public performance.
Success of Gonzaga’s program in music composition is demonstrated by the following:
- The publication by a major liturgical publishing house of a choral work by one of the students while in the program
- Five annual awards by OPUS 7, Seattle’s professional choral ensemble, to Gonzaga’s students as the Outstanding Undergraduate composers in the Northwest
- Graduate school enrollment in composition by one or two members of the program each year since the Gonzaga University awarded its first B.A. in Music with emphasis on Composition.