The Mills College Music Department has an international reputation for musical innovation, and our students have the opportunity to push musical boundaries or simply enjoy the cutting edge of music at Mills.
We offer a full range of concerts throughout the year that may include performances from visiting artists, our renowned faculty—Chris Brown, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Maggi Payne, William Winant, and James Fei—and students. Typically performances are free or discounted for members of the Mills community.
Mills Music Now─Our annual concert series, hailed as one of the “gems of Bay Area culture,” presents a diverse blend of experimental, world, and traditional Western music performed by artists such as Angela Hewitt, Kazue Sawai, Louis Lortie, Ikue Mori, Ali Akbar Kahn, Wadada Leo Smith, and Luc Ferrari. The series is held in our historic, 450-seat Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall, which has excellent acoustics for vocal, instrumental, and ensemble performances by students and visiting performers.
Songlines—The Center for Contemporary Music presents a series of public events performed in the more informal setting of the Mills Ensemble Room. This series of symposia on sound, nature, technology, and performance features guest composers, performing artists, and researchers in an intimate setting encouraging dynamic interaction between the audience and artist.
Signal Flow—Graduating master’s degree candidates showcase the cutting edge of contemporary music in this annual four-day festival. Signal Flow typically features compositions and improvisations for ensembles of all sizes, electronic works, interactive online concerts, installations of all descriptions, 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.
For more than 50 years, the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) has been at the forefront of developments emphasizing experimental methods in contemporary music. In 1966, the San Francisco Tape Music Center moved to Mills College and became the Mills Tape Music Center, and later, the Center for Contemporary Music. Since its inception, this organization has achieved a strong international reputation as a leading center for innovation in music.
CCM’s assets include studios with state-of-the-art electronic equipment, and a variety of contemporary and historic instruments (including one of the first Buchla synthesizers)—all of which are available to Mills students and faculty 24 hours a day. In addition, CCM provides instruction and technical assistance, archives audio recordings, and offers a wide range of community programs in the arts, including public concerts and lecture series and artist residencies.
CCM functions as an important resource center for the Bay Area's community of composers and artists, who contribute to CCM's exciting atmosphere of collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and outside professionals.