Premieres Concert Series

There are a wide range of performance opportunities available to composers in the program, including the Premieres Concert series (3-5 concerts per year) featuring new music by student composers performed by student performers. Student composers also frequently perform or conduct. 


There is an increasingly vibrant community centered on improvisation in the composition program. Students and faculty alike often come together to improvise both in public performances and in experimental workshops. The faculty have recently performed with silent film in the Broad Underground Film Series and students have performed on the Premieres concerts and at various venues off campus.


MSU student composers utilize many venues on and around campus and in the Greater Lansing area. The College of Music's Fairchild Theatre, Cook Recital Hall, and the Wharton Center's Cobb Great Hall and Pasant Theatre are several of the more traditional concert venues on campus. Some have performed at the incredible Broad Museum of Art, while others have brought their music to less formal concert venues like the nearby brewpub Beggar's Banquet and Red Haven, a local farm-to-table restaurant, through the Consuming Arts Project which combines music and food.


Readings & Workshops

The composition area brings renowned guest performers and ensembles to campus each year to workshop and record student compositions. Recent guest ensembles include yMusic, the Momenta String Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, the Fifth House Ensemble, eighth blackbird, and many others.

The final projects for the graduate orchestration courses (MUS 877 & 878) are read and recorded by the top-tier ensembles, Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra. 

In addition to the orchestration reading sessions every semester, the composition area offers readings of students works by the top-tier ensembles, including the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, and Musique 21 (contemporary music ensemble).

Electronic Music Workshop

This student-lead group often combines real-time electronic music performance with acoustic instruments in performances of experimental works as well as in improvisation. More information.


There are thousands of rehearsals in the College of Music each year, and we highly encourage composition students to take advantage of the opportunity to observe the process of bringing a piece to life. The composition area has a great relationship with the conducting studios, and conductors generally welcome student composers into their rehearsals for observation and score study.  

Composition Competitions

Honors Composition Competition

This yearly competition is open to all composition majors who compete to have winning works performed on the regular seasons of the top-tier MSU ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, MSU Chorale, and Musique 21 (contemporary music ensemble). The Honors Composition Competition is coordinated by the chair of the area and adjudicated by an established composer outside of MSU. Instrumental categories alternate on a yearly basis: symphony orchestra/chamber ensemble on a given year and wind ensemble/mixed choir on another year. One work from each alternating category is selected each year (i.e. two works/winners per year). Interested students are allowed to compete for only one category per year by submitting only one work of a chosen category. The deadline for submitting entries to this competition is February 15 of every year. Winners are announced towards the end of each spring semester and premieres of winning works take place during the following academic year.

Jere Hutcheson Composition Competition for Large Ensemble

In addition to the Honors Composition Competition and to honor the contributions of Michigan State University Professor Emeritus Jere Hutcheson, the Orchestra, Band and Composition Areas sponsor a yearly composition contest that offers three winners the opportunity to compose short new works to be premiered by the MSU Concert Orchestra and Campus Band. The competition is coordinated by the chair of the area and adjudicated by an established composer outside of MSU. For this competition, each interested student submits one work for any instrumentation. Based upon the strengths of the works submitted, the outside adjudicator chooses three winning composers who are in turn paired with either the Campus Band or the Concert Orchestra in order to collaborate in the creation of a new 5-6 minute work following the specifications of each ensemble. During this collaborative process, winning students work closely with graduate student conductors who are assigned to conduct the premieres and offer guidance while the works are being created. The deadline for submitting entries to the Large Ensemble Composition Competition is during the beginning of the fall semester of every year. Winners are announced towards the middle of fall semester with the expectation that the new works will be ready by late February so they can be performed towards the end of each spring semester.


The College of Music's multi-disciplinary Running Start program helps equip students for life as a working musician in the 21st century. Running Start prepares students to creatively channel their passions into vibrant careers by providing:

  • individual career coaching
  • events and workshops
  • courses
  • entrepreneurial opportunities
  • performance opportunities 
  • engagement with faculty and alumni
  • online resources for internships, jobs, auditions, and more

Several composition students have also received support through the annual Running Start Competition to fund creative projects and performances.