In the century since its founding in 1920 by composer Ernst Bloch, The Cleveland Institute of Music has been a place for young composers to find their voice, refine their skills, and create a new and exciting repertoire. Consistently considered among of the nation's top conservatories, CIM provides a unique environment for composers and performers alike to explore their imagination and creativity while working with a world-class faculty devoted to training the complete musician of the 21st century.
In the rich and diverse musical climate of our time, I welcome and encourage a variety of compositional styles among my students. My primary goal is to help you discover and cultivate your own personal and unique compositional language. I work with each student on how to write dynamic, sophisticated, and moving music, while also learning to develop musical material, shape the overall design and architecture of a piece, and nurture and expand your musical knowledge, taste, sophistication, and judgment.
CIM strives to provide our composers with as many opportunities as possible. Among them is our Partnership Program, which pairs student composers with student performers, who then come to that student's composition lesson to work together on the realization of his or her ideas. This hands-on experience of working directly with performers as part of the creative process is invaluable to a young composer's development and is one of the things which makes CIM such a unique place to study.
Another is our biannual collaboration with the Cleveland Institute of Art, pairing student composers with student filmmakers to create short films to be shown in the Shafran Planetarium at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This collaboration offers our students valuable experience in the art of collaboration, film scoring, and sound design.
I invite you to explore our community — one committed to the complete training of the creative artist of the 21st century.
- Keith Fitch
Head, Composition Dept.
Vincent K. and Edith H. Smith Chair in Composition
The CIM Composition Department provides an intensive environment for student composers where the highest level of excellence is expected. The incredibly high standard of performance at CIM assures student composers very fine performances of their solo, ensemble, and orchestral works, as well as works developed in our Electronic Music Studio, all of which are digitally recorded.
Every composition major at CIM receives a weekly individual lesson. Additionally, students are required to attend the weekly seminar, where faculty and students present their own music, meet with visiting composers, explore career options, and discuss virtually any and every topic related to being a composer in the 21st century.
The CIM Composition Department offers three studio recitals every year; students are required to have works performed on at least two of the three. The CIM Orchestra devotes three days each semester to reading and recording student works, providing vital and practical training in orchestral composition. Additionally, CIM student performers regularly program student composers works on their own recitals.
A wide variety of composers with differing styles and ideas regularly visit CIM, meeting with students in Composition Seminar, discussing their music in symposia, and in many cases, looking at individual student works in master classes. Composers who have visited in recent years include John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Mario Davidovsky, John Corigliano, Joan Tower, Melinda Wagner, Claude Baker, David Rakowski, George Tsontakis, David Del Tredici, Steven Stucky, Sean Shepherd, Julian Anderson, Stephen Paulus, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, and Chen Yi, among many others.
There are many professional opportunities for CIM composition students throughout the neighboring communities. The Canton Symphony offers an annual Composer Fellowship to a CIM composition major, resulting in a work premiered by them as part of their regular season. The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra has presented CIM student works at Severance Hall; other recent student commissions have included works for local dance companies, the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, and the Museum of Natural History, among many others.
CIM students consistently are among the nation's most celebrated young composers. Their awards include honors from the Fulbright Foundation, the ASCAP-Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the BMI Student Composers Competition, the Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kronos String Quartet Under 30 commission; the National Association of Composers USA Competition, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Composition Prize, the Leo Kaplan Prize, the National Federation of Music Clubs competition, and the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Composition Competition.
Our students regularly receive commissions from SCI, ASCAP, the BMI Foundation, the New York Youth Symphony, as well as new music ensembles and soloists throughout the nation.
Additionally, CIM students have received residences at the Copland House, Camargo (Cassis, France), the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Summer Music Festival, the Free University Berlin Institute, Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Fresh, Inc. Festival, New Music on the Point, California Summer Music, and Brevard Summer Music, among others.
- Meet the CIM Composition Faculty.
- Learn about our Electronic Music Studio.
- Read about the New Music Ensemble
- See some of our Distinguished Alumni.
- See CIM Faculty over the years.
Statement of Purpose
Bachelor of Music in Composition
The Bachelor of Music degree in composition emphasizes the development of the creative artist through an immersive and comprehensive program of study. The craft of composition and the artistic voice of the student are developed in a program of study that is both broad in scope and focused on the creative process. With ongoing opportunities for performance of new works, the student develops compositional techniques within the context of established, emergent and original styles and contexts. With an emphasis on portfolio creation, interdisciplinary projects and ongoing opportunities for the performance of newly created works, the student acquires both the artistic and the practical knowledge to create original works using different media and to present such works in a variety of settings.
Master of Music in Composition
The Master of Music in Composition is designed for the student who has acquired a solid undergraduate foundation in composition to work intensively for continued professional growth. The degree develops advanced capacities to work independently and make effective artistic and intellectual judgments and professional decisions in composition. Students demonstrate professional competence in the area of specialization before peers and faculty, and produce a final project reviewed by faculty.
Applicants must demonstrate knowledge and skills equivalent to those who have completed CIM's undergraduate program. Audition and admission examinations are evaluated on that basis and help shape the overall construction of an individual's program of study. Emphasis is on refining existing skills, addressing deficiencies, building a portfolio, and preparing to either enter the workforce as a professional musician or pursue doctoral work. The program may also include deficiency course work, the credit for which is not applicable towards fulfillment of degree requirements. Overall individual program requirements, including those courses that are applicable to the degree and deficiency courses that are not, are determined by means of audition, admission examinations, and transcript evaluation.
Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition
The degree Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition is intended for candidates with outstanding ability as composers who demonstrate deep and detailed knowledge of their major field, as well as comprehensive understanding of related subjects. The program is highly flexible, adapted to, and reflective of the needs of individual students. An applicant for admission to the DMA program must possess a Master's degree or its equivalent, with a major in the same principal area in which admission is being sought. Although a minimum of one academic year in residence (two consecutive regular semesters) is required as a full-time student, applicants should expect to spend three years of full-time study in this program.
The primary focus of the DMA program in Composition is to prepare students to enter the profession as highly qualified teachers with the potential for long-term professional success. Graduates from the program are expected to have a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of Western music history, music theory, all composition related topics (instrumentation, orchestration, electronic music, etc.), as well as experience in classroom teaching, and new music ensemble management, where appropriate. Additionally, graduates should themselves be highly accomplished, creative composers, with significant potential for professional success.
The doctoral degree program in composition stresses creative activity emphasizing the development of a personal aesthetic expressible in sound. Competencies also include a broad knowledge of historical and contemporary compositional practices, music theory, history and criticism, and creative approaches to their relationships to the compositional process.