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  2. Composition

Composition Auditions

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You'll be great. Trust us.

We're all ears. Before we became players, singers, conductors, and composers, listening was our first love. And it's still the skill that underlies everything we do at SFCM. Hearing and reading your work are the first steps toward a beautiful musical partnership. We can't wait.

Acceptance into the Composition program at SFCM requires pre-screening. We strongly recommend that composition applicants visit SFCM in the year preceding their application on a Friday to visit classes and have a campus tour. After the pre-screening recordings are reviewed, applicants invited to audition should reach out to the faculty to schedule a trial lesson before final admission decisions are released.

Live auditions at the Conservatory are required of the following applicants:

  • Applicants residing in California

Regional and Final Recording auditions are available for the following applicants:

  • Applicants residing outside of California

Final recordings must be submitted online through the formal Application, found here, no later than December 1. Note that you are required to upload your piano proficiency requirement as part of the final recording. All USA Schools of Music applicants will have their audition recording uploaded automatically by SFCM. If the USA Schools of Music audition did not include piano proficiency, the applicant must upload their piano proficiency requirement into the application.


  • Three or more scores and recordings (audio or audio-visual) of each of the scores.

Scores must show evidence of original musical thought, along with the fundamentals of compositional technique. While electronic compositions are acceptable, applicants must also demonstrate competence with traditional notation in the scores submitted. Computer-generated scores should be checked for correct transpositions, appropriate accidentals, and normal spellings. MIDI recordings are acceptable in exceptional cases, but acoustic performances are strongly recommended.

Live and regional audition applicants, including USA Schools of Music applicants, must list the three pieces for the piano proficiency requirement they anticipate performing at the audition.

Final Audition Requirements

  • Pre-screening portfolio contents, as described in the pre-screening section above will be discussed at the live audition.
  • Demonstrated ability at the piano- Three complete piano works or movements should be prepared from three of the following periods: baroque, classical, romantic, or 20th/21st century. When choosing the 20th/21st century category, the applicant is encouraged to perform one of their own compositions.
  • Applicants may also be asked to realize figured bass at the piano, score-read a chamber work, and/or sight-read a simple piano work at the live or regional audition.
  • Should piano not be the candidate's primary instrument, the applicant is welcome to upload an electronic recording of a performance on their primary instrument with their portfolio. Applicants must still complete the piano evaluation requirement.

Audition Dates at SFCM

February 9
February 16

2019-20 Regional Auditions

Domestic Regional Auditions - In Spring 2020


Location Date Master Class Instrument
Interlochen January 18
Chicago January 20 Cathy Payne* Piccolo
New York February 28 Sharon Mann Piano
New York (piano only) February 29
New York March 2

*Cathy Payne's Master Class will be on January 19



Asian Regional Auditions - in Fall 2019


*Seoul October 27
*Taipei October 29-30
Shenzhen October 31
*Hong Kong November 1
Singapore November 3
*Guangzhou November 4-5
*Shanghai November 7-9
*Beijing November 11-14

*These auditions are in partnership with USA Schools of Music.

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