Division of Contemporary Music
The Contemporary Music Division encompasses three areas: Composition, Jazz Studies and Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA).
Production, performance, and critique are primary instructional vehicles of the program. In each Composition and TIMARA course, the focus is always on compositional productivity, new compositions being the primary course output, with works being performed and critiqued by both faculty and fellow students. Opportunities for performances and readings abound; performance of student works and projects over the past two years averaged thirty concerts per semester. Many student performers request works to premiere on their junior and senior recitals. When added to the six Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble concerts per year, faculty composers concerts each semester, concerts of works by visiting composers, and the frequent appearance of new music on other recitals by faculty, students, and large performing groups, Oberlin Conservatory is clearly one of the richest and most diverse new music environments in the country.
The Conservatory incorporated jazz into its curriculum in 1972 and began offering a major in jazz studies in 1989. The program prepares students for careers as professional jazz musicians and for advanced study in jazz.
The jazz studies faculty includes composers and performers who maintain active jazz careers in addition to teaching lessons and classes and coaching ensembles. Oberlin's Jazz Faculty Octet was featured at the 1991 and 1996 International Association of Jazz Educators conferences held in Washington, D.C., and at the 1996 conference in Atlanta.
The major in Technology in Music and Related Arts is intended for those students who desire a career where traditional musical skills and understanding are combined with the exploration of the very latest techniques for musical expression. It is expected that students who qualify for this major will demonstrate musical proficiency comparable to that shown by applicants in other areas such as performance and composition.
The major prepares a student for specialized graduate study in computer music, digital media and new performance. For those who go directly into professional life this major offers a structured course of study that stresses the application of technology as a special resource in composition, new media, and performance.
In the Autumn of 1999, the faculty of the Contemporary Music Division decided to make student compositions more widely available. With continuing support from the Dean of the Conservatory, a CD of student works is released every other year. Aural Capacity Volume 5 was released in the spring of 2009 and represents some of the best creative work by student composers and performers of new music at Oberlin.