Beyond the Classroom

At Mills, you’ll find a supportive, intimate atmosphere that inspires creativity, critical listening and thinking, and collaborative work beyond the classroom.

Meet Composers-in-Residence.

Each year, guest artists are invited to teach and perform concerts on campus; they also involve students in performing, building instruments and installations, and more.

  • Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence—This prestigious residency was initiated with Lou Harrison in 1998–99. The residency was subsequently held 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, Laurie Anderson, George Lewis, Morton Subotnick, and Hilda Paredes.

  • David Tudor Composer-in-Residence—Endowed in honor of electronic music composer/performer David Tudor, the first composer to hold this residency was Paul DeMarinis in 2000–01. He was followed by Maryanne Amacher, Steina Vasulka, Trimpin, Ron Kuivila, Jon Rose, Laetitia Sonami, Keith Rowe, Bob Ostertag, David Dunn, Ikue Mori, David Behrman, Nic Collins, and John Driscoll.

Perform & Collaborate.  

You’ll have numerous opportunities to perform on stage and work creatively with faculty and classmates. Many of our students begin collaborations on campus that continue throughout their careers.

  • Thursday Night Special—This biweekly student-run, cross-disciplinary performance event fosters experimentation, creative collaboration, and community among undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Campus Ensembles—Renowned Mills faculty lead groups of students in practicing and performing early music, chamber music, contemporary music, improvisation, jazz vocals, percussion pieces, African drumming, and gamelan.
  • Off-Campus Concerts—Discover the San Francisco Bay Area’s myriad venues for new music, including the Center for New Music, Luggage Store Gallery, Meridian Gallery, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley Arts Festival, and Garden of Memory Walk. Mills students, alumnae, and faculty frequently perform in these venues.

Hear New Work & Ideas.  
  • Mills Music Now—This fall-through-spring concert series in Littlefield Concert Hall features contemporary composers and performers from around the world as well as Mills’ own faculty and campus ensembles.
  • Songlines—The Center for Contemporary Music organizes symposia on sound, nature, and new music that brings composers, musicologists, instrumentalists, and others to campus for talks and performances in an informal setting. Guests have included Robert Ashley, Amelia Cuni, Luc Ferrari, Janice Giteck, Matthew Goodheart, Jason Kahn, Carla Kihlstedt, Kitundu, Christina Kubisch, John Leidecker, Annea Lockwood, Miya Masaoka, Neil Rolnick, Tetsu Saitoh, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny.
  • Signal Flow Festival—Graduating MA and MFA music students present their culminating work at this annual four-day event showcasing the cutting edge of contemporary music practices. Signal Flow features compositions and improvisations for ensembles, electronic works, interactive online concerts, installations, dance and theater pieces, video works, meditations, and songs—all reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the arts at Mills.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students also perform regularly in intimate classical and chamber concerts in settings such as the Mills Hall living room, bringing all members of the community together to enjoy music at Mills.

Access Unique Facilities & Equipment.  

As a Mills music student, you have round-the-clock access to a wealth of facilities and unique equipment, including:

  • The Center for Contemporary Music, which offers electronic equipment, instruments, and studios; provides instruction and technical assistance; and archives audio recordings
  • The 450-seat Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall in our historic Music Building, designed by architect Walter Ratcliff in the 1920s with murals by Raymond Boynton
  • Practice rooms
  • An instrument-building workshop to create your own circuits and synthesizers
What Can I Do with a Graduate Degree in Music from Mills?

The graduate music programs at Mills have a well-established reputation for producing distinguished composers, sound artists, and performers. Our alumnae include Charles Amirkhanian, Beth Anderson, John Bischoff, William Bolcom, Chris Brown, Dave Brubeck, Julia Christensen, Paul DeMarinis, Janice Giteck, Ben Goldberg, Ron Kuivila, Phil Lesh, Frankie Mann, Miya Masaoka, Rebeca Mauléon, Amy X Neuburg, Maggi Payne, Steve Reich, Gino Robair, Laetitia Sonami, Morton Subotnick, Mark Trayle, and many others. Below is a sampling of more recent graduates at the forefront of new music and recording technologies:

Madalyn Merkey, MFA ’14
Composer and performer of live computer music; releases include Valley Girl

Holly Herndon, MFA ’10
Composer, musician, and sound artist; releases include Platform

Zachary James Watkins, MFA ’06
Composer, educator, and guitarist of Black Spirituals; releases include Of Deconstruction

I Nyoman Windha, MA ’05
Gamelan composer and faculty at Indonesian Institute of the Arts Denpasar

Wu Fei, MA ’04
Guzheng master and composer; releases include Yuan

Noah Georgeson, MFA '03
Grammy-winning record producer, engineer, mixer, and musician

Kristin Miltner, MFA ’02
Senior Sound Designer and Composer, IGT

Evan Adams, MFA ’11
President, Keith McMillen Instruments

Anantha Krishnan, MFA ’08
Faculty at KM Music Conservatory, Chennai, teaching Western and Indian percussion

Marielle V. Jakobsons, MFA ’06
Composer, intermedia artist, and audio director at Electronic Arts

Tara Rodgers, MFA ’05
Composer and author of Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound

Julia Christiansen, MFA ’03
Associate professor of integrated media, Oberlin College

Cenk Ergün, MA ’02, MFA ’03
Improviser and composer; releases include Nana