The Mills Music Department has enjoyed an international reputation in the field of contemporary music for well over half a century, occupying a unique place in Bay Area culture. Our two-year graduate degree programs continue this tradition of excellence. Mills offers three graduate degrees:
Master of Arts in Composition
Master of Fine Arts in Electronic Music and Recording Media
Master of Fine Arts in Music Performance and Literature (with specializations in solo and chamber music or in improvisation)
These programs successfully blend appreciation for past accomplishment and skills with commitment to artistic innovation and technological advancement. The graduate faculty of leading composers, performers, and scholars prides itself on its creative openness and accessibility to students.
The programs in composition and electronic music keep Mills at the forefront of new music. Directed by a core of distinguished composers and sound artists, including John Bischoff, Chris Brown, James Fei, Fred Frith, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, Maggi Payne, and Les Stuck, these programs welcome stellar guests to their teaching rosters, including Joëlle Léandre in 2006, Hilda Paredes in 2007, and Zeena Parkins in 2011 and 2012.
The Music Department also has at least one visiting composer in residence each year. Lou Harrison was the first Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence in 1998–99, followed by Gordon Mumma, José Maceda, Bun-Ching Lam, Cecil Taylor, Meredith Monk, Terry Riley, James Tenney, Maggie Nichols, Helmut Lachenmann, Muhal Richard Abrams, Julia Wolfe, Christian Wolff, Alvin Lucier, and Laurie Anderson. The Music Department also has an endowed residency in honor of the electronic music composer/performer David Tudor; Paul DeMarinis initiated this residency in 2000–01, followed by Maryanne Amacher, Steina Vasulka, Trimpin, Ron Kuivila, Jon Rose, Keith Rowe, Bob Ostertag, David Dunn, Ikue Mori, and David Behrman.
The College's Center for Contemporary Music (CCM), with its roots in the historic San Francisco Tape Music Center, is world renowned for its innovative work in electroacoustic and computer music, interactive installations and performances, sound art, performance art, visual arts, recording media, and sound synthesis. Its popular public events include Songlines, a series of symposia on sound, nature, and new music technologies that brings together in an informal setting guest composers, performing artists, and researchers. Guests have included Robert Ashley, Nicolas Collins, Amelia Cuni, Luc Ferrari, Janice Giteck, Jason Kahn, Carla Kihlstedt, Kitundu, Christina Kubisch, Annea Lockwood, Miya Masaoka, Neil Rolnick, Tetsu Saitoh, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny.
Scholarship is an important component of all our graduate programs, and a lively intellectual atmosphere is maintained through seminars and one-to-one studies in musicology, theory, and ethnomusicology with renowned scholars David Bernstein and Nalini Ghuman.
Our commitment to creating interdisciplinary works with other fine arts departments is enhanced by Mills' Intermedia Arts Program, which generates many fresh ways of making and thinking about music and sound art.