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College of Music / Areas of Study / Music Theory & Composition

Music Theory & Composition

The Florida State University College of Music features one of the largest and most distinguished theory and composition faculties in the United States. Our students gain valuable experience in teaching and research, working with faculty members who care deeply about both pursuits.

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Rachel Lumsden as Assistant Professor of Music Theory, starting in the fall of 2016. Prof. Lumsden received a Ph.D. in music theory and a doctoral certificate in women's studies from CUNY, and has been teaching at the University of Oklahoma since 2012. Her research interests include ultramodern compositional style, gender and race in early twentieth-century British and American music, and Schenkerian analysis. Her work has been published in Black Music Research JournalFeminist StudiesStudies in American Humor, and Women and Music, as well as in several interdisciplinary collections of essays.

This year, as always, we are hosting an array of distinguished guest music theorists and composers.

  • Michael Cuthbert (MIT) visited from September 29-October 1, leading Prof. Callender's doctoral seminar and giving a guest lecture.
  • John Covach (University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music) was a Housewright Scholar in residence from October 19-23, 2015. He guest taught classes, gave public lectures and met with students.
  • David Temperley (Eastman School of Music) visited on October 27-28, giving the first Lewis V. Pankaskie guest lecture ("Mediant Mixture in Rock Music") and leading Dr. Callender's doctoral seminar. 
  • James Primosch (University of Pennsylvania) was guest composer on November 19-20, working with our composition students, leading a Cawthon Colloquium, and 
  • Michael Klein (Temple University) was the keynote speaker at our graduate Music Theory Society Forum on January 30, 2016.
  • Evan Chambers (University of Michigan) visited from January 31-February 1, a guest artist concert featured several of his works and he led a guest symposium with our composers.
  • Jocelyn Neal (University of North Carolina) will visit our campus on February 15 as part of FSU's ACC Road Scholars Program, in which distinguished professors from other ACC schools visit and give a guest scholarly lecture titled "The Good Songs Always Sound Like You've Heard Them Before: The Cultural Politics of Musical Borrowing." Her guest lecture will be in the Bradley Reading Room in Strozier Library at 4:00; reception to follow. 
  • J. Daniel Jenkins (University of South Carolina) will give a guest lecture on Friday, March 25 at 3:30 pm in KMU 206. He will also lead a Cawthon Colloquium on March 24 at 6:30 pm in the Cawthon Parlor.
  • Janet Schmalfeldt (Tufts University) will be a visiting Housewright Scholar from April 4-8, 2016.

To see our (impressive!) list of guest composers and theorists who visited prior to the current school year, please click on the link in the right-hand margin.

Our record for job placement is outstanding. You can see a complete list of where our graduates teach here. Our recent job placements include:

Jobs beginning this year:

Neil Anderson-Himmelspach (DM composition, 2009) will be joining the faculty of Texas Christian University as Assistant Professor in Fall 2015.

Ya-Hui Cheng (PhD music theory, 2008) will be joining the faculty of University of South Florida as Assistant Professor.

Andrew Gades (PhD music theory, 2013) joined the faculty of The College of Idaho in fall 2014 as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Next year, he will begin his tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor.

Bryn Hughes (PhD music theory, 2011) will be leaving the faculty of the University of Miami's Frost School of Music to begin job as Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada).

Greg McCandless (PhD music theory, 2010) will be joining the faculty of Appalachian State University (NC) as Assistant Professor.

John Peterson (PhD music theory, 2014) joined the faculty of James Madison University in fall 2014 as a Lecturer; Next year, he will begin his tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor.

Gillian Robertson (PhD music theory, 2015) be a Lecturer in music theory at Texas A&M University-Kingsville starting this fall.

Jennifer Smith (PhD music theory, 2012) will be joining the faculty of the DePauw University (IN). She has previously been on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Florida.

Sarah Zipperer Gaskins (DM composition, 2011) will be Department Chair of the Professional Music Program at Portland (OR) Community College - Cascade Campus.

Jobs that began this year:
Sean Atkinson (PhD music theory, 2009) joined the faculty of Texas Christian University as Assistant Professor in fall 2014. For the past five years, he was Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Joshua Burel (DM composition, 2014) began teaching at Webster University in fall 2014 in a sabbatical replacement position.

Christopher Endrinal (PhD music theory, 2008) is now Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Florida Gulf Coast University as Assistant Professor. He previously taught at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Gabe Fankhauser (PhD music theory, 1999) joined the faculty of University of North Georgia. He had been Associate Professor at Appalachian State University. Dr. Fankhauser is also currently President of Music Theory Southeast. 

Joshua Keeling (DM composition, 2013) joined the faculty of Illinois State University as Assistant Professor.

Crystal Peebles (PhD music theory, 2011) joined the faculty of Ithaca College as Assistant Professor in fall 2014. She previously served on the faculty of Northern Arizona University.

Jeff Yunek (MM music theory, 2009) joined the faculty of Kennesaw State University (GA). He is also currently President of South-Central Society for Music Theory.

Congratulations!

  • Cara Stroud (ABD) won the best paper prize at the GAMuT conference in Denton, TX on September 26, 2015. Current FSU doctoral students, Lewis Jeter and Danielle Wulf also presented at that conference (FSU students presented three of the eight accepted papers!). 
  • FSU faculty and students played a huge role in this year's Music Theory Southeast Conference at East Carolina University (March 27-28, 2015). Brian Jarvis (PhD ABD) won the prize for Best Student Paper and other current students who presented were Gillian Robertson (PhD ABD), Daniel Tompkins (MM), and Micah Lomax (PhD student). Among our faculty, Michael Buchler led the Student Workshop, Nancy Rogers was a leader in the innovative discussion session on post-tonal music, and Andrew Aziz presented a paper. Also, FSU alumni presented their work were Bryn Hughes, Jay Smith, and Matthew Bell.
  • Cara Stroud (PhD student) presented at the 2015 Texas Society for Music Theory Conference.
  • Four of our doctoral students (John Peterson, Gillian Robertson, Joshua Mills, and Micah Lomax) and two faculty members (Matthew Shaftel and Michael Buchler) presented their work at the Society for Music Theory meeting in Milwaukee, WI this fall. Still other faculty members participated in panel discussions, chairing sessions, and leading standing committees. 
  • Neil Anderson-Himmelspach (DM 2009) was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award by the faculty of the FSU College of Music.
  • DM student Jon Overholt won the Florida MTNA Composition Competition's Young Artist Category. 
  • Cara Stroud (PhD student) and Daniel Tompkins (MM student in music theory) both presented their work at the GAMuT conference (Sept. 26-27, 2014) in Denton, TX. Daniel was awarded the best student paper award.
  • Seven members of the FSU theory/composition community presented their work at this year’s Music Theory Southeast Conference in Tampa, Florida: graduate students Joshua Mills, John Peterson, Gillian Robertson, Micah Lomax, and Kaleb Delk; recent Ph.D. graduate Andrew Gades; and faculty member Michael Buchler. Joshua Mills received the best student paper prize for his wonderfully creative and beautifully presented talk “Partimenti, Imitatio, and Exempla: Exploring (and Applying) the Pedagogical Parallels between Rhetoric and Composition.”
  • Joshua Burel (DM 2014) and Jamie Whitmarsh (MM 2014) performed together as part of the ensemble What is Noise in Carnegie Hall on May 5, 2014. Their program included "Roanoke" by Joshua Burel.
  • Jamie Whitmarsh and DM student Jon Overholt won the 2013–14 FSU Student Orchestral Competition; their winning compositions ("For Many Chairs" and "Processional", respectively) were performed by FSU's two orchestras. Jamie is the national winner of the MTNA Senior Division Composition Contest. On March 24, 2014 his "Animal Songs" was performed on a concert featuring all the senior-level winners. He is currently a finalist for The American Prize in Composition for both "For Many Chairs" and "Animal Songs".
  • Marshall Jones's Peregrination was selected for performance at the third annual National Student Electronic Music Event (NSEME 2014) at Georgia Southern University, February 21-22, 2014 and the 14th Biennial Arts and Technology Symposium, the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College, February 27 – March 1, 2014. Marshall was also awarded the BMO merit award in the art song division for Boston Metro Opera's 2014 International Contempo Festival.
  • DM student Szu-Yu Chen's "Variations on a Taiwanese Folk Song" for organ was performed in July 2014 at the Seventh Annual Festival of New Organ Music in London.
  • DM student Daniel Thompson was a finalist for the BMI Prize in 2014 with his "Concert Etude" for piano.
  • Neil Anderson-Himmelspach (DM 2009) serves as arranger for NBC's hit show The Sing-Off. He arranges many of the A Cappella charts you hear on the show.
  • Michael Buchler was elected Vice President of the Society for Music Theory in 2013. He was previously Chair of the (2013) SMT Program Committee. Joseph Kraus just completed his three-year term on the Society for Music Theory Executive Board. Matthew Shaftel is the Chair of SMT's Publications Committee. Nancy Rogers is Chair of SMT's Professional Development Committee. (Yes, you could say that our faculty is active in our professional society!)
  • Brad Osborn (MM 2006) won the inaugural Adam Krims Memorial Prize, awarded by the SMT Popular Music Analysis Interest Group, for his Spectrum article on "terminally climactic form." 
  • Three of our music theory faculty members won University Teaching Awards in 2013: Matthew Shaftel was awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award (FSU's highest prize for teaching), Michael Buchler was awarded a Graduate Teaching Award, and Nancy Rogers was awarded an Undergraduate Teaching Award.
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