The Catholic University of America

Welcome to the Music Composition Area at CUA! 

Composition Calendar
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Student SCI Chapter  |  New Voices Festival

There are as many ways to make music as there are composers.
At CUA, we pride ourselves on helping you find your creative voice.  You will experience your own music in performance, discover the dynamic modern world of the arts in Washington and beyond, challenge yourself to master the tools of your craft, and create your own artistic identity in the supportive atmosphere of our studio.

Compose -
Innovate - Learn - Perform



CUA Senior Matthew Yost wins 50th Anniversary Composition Competition
In a blind juried review, senior composition major Matthew Yost’s Ut Sol, Ut Luna was named the winner of the Benjamin T Rome School of Music 50th Anniversary Composition Competition. The prize, created in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Music School achieving School status at the The Catholic University of America, carries with it the honor of opening the Music School’s Kennedy Center concert on April 12, 2015, along with a $1000 award.

Yost, a music student hailing from Salt Lake City, UT, who spent the previous fall semester studying in Rome, was chosen out of a pool of applicants ranging from current students to alums from the early 1960s. Orchestral Fanfare for a Scholarly Celebration, by William Popp (DMA, 1997), was named the runner up, and Celebration,by Anthony Doherty (BM, 1964), received an honorable mention. The jury included composition faculty members Robert Baker, Stephen Gorbos, and Andrew Simpson, along with the CUA Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Simeone Tartaglione and Baltimore composer Alexandra Gardner. 

14 Stations of the Cross - 14 Premieres for String Quartet
Fri. February 20, 2015
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the B. T. Rome School of Music, the Composition Division presents fourteen newly commissioned short string quartets by faculty, students and alum, in a special Devotional Service focussed on the 14 Stations of the Cross. Come hear these brand new new works, each inspired by an individual station and performed by our CUA Graduate Student String Quartet, interspersed with readings of the stations by Celebrant and Pastor Msgr. Peter Vaghi.

7:00 pm, Church of the Little Flower, 5607 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda, MD. All are welcome.

First Light - a new musical by CUA Composer, John Tafone

Sat. December 6, 2014, at 9:00 pm
Sun. December 7, 2014, time TBA

Music by John Tafone (BMus, Junior), Book and Lyrics by Gretchen Midgley (BMus, Junior)

Inspired by Edward Hopper's iconic painting "Nighthawks", this new musical explores the lives of three New Yorkers whose stories intertwine in unexpected ways as they struggle to keep up with a world growing faster than they are. With a sweeping and memorable score, First Light harkens back to the Golden Age of musical theatre with a contemporary twist.

Ward Recital Hall
Admission Free

University Christmas Concert
Fri. December 5, 2014
Join us for our annual Christmas Concert for Charity in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, featuring the premiere of CUA Doctoral Composition student Jeff Cortazzo's Nativity, Op. 21, for chorus and orchestra.
7:30 pm, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Admission Free
For more information click here. ________________________________________________________

String Orchestra Student Composition Reading Session
Tues. November 18, 2014
Come hear our Fall String Orchestral Readings Session featuring new works by CUA Undergraduate and Graduate composition students performed by the CUA Symphony Orchestra strings and percussion.

4:10 - 7:00 pm, Ward Hall, John Paul Rehearsal Hall, Rm 220 Admission is free, and open to the CUA community.

Composition Division Fall Recital

Fri. November 14, 2014
Come hear brand new new works by CUA's composition Majors and Minors performed by CUA students in our Fall semester recital.

7:30 pm, John Paul Rehearsal Hall (Ward 220), Ward Hall
Admission is free, and the public is welcome.
Reception to follow.

Orchestral Composition Competition Announced!
The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015, and the Composition Area has issued a Composition Competition for an orchestral work to be premiered by the CUA Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall on April 12, 2015. The competition is open to any alumnus or currently enrolled student of the School of Music. Deadline for receipt of full scores (hard copy only) is Nov. 30, 2014. For more information and the official entry form, click here.


For past events, visit our Announcements and News Archives.




Excerpt from the manuscript of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (above) held in the Library of Congress, Music Reading Room, Washington D.C.

our programs at a glance

We also cooperate with the Institute of Sacred Music to offer lessons and artistic support for those pursuing the MM and DMA degrees in Sacred Music with an emphasis in Composition.

Contact composition

Professor Andrew E. Simpson
Head, Division of Theory-Composition
Ward Hall 28
Benjamin T. Rome School of Music
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20064

Phone: 202-319-5564
Fax: 202-319-6280

Watch a video introduction to the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music''s distinct architectural features