the new school's college of performing arts announces radical new masters in music degree for performers-composers

The new program will support multi-disciplinary composers, performers, and improvisers

Mary Halvorson works with a student

February 3, 2020, New York - The New School’s College of Performing Arts (Mannes, Jazz, Drama) today announced a new master’s degree for creative musicians, the MM Performer-Composer. Designed as an alternative to traditional music degrees that are highly specific to genre or category, this new program supports multi-disciplinary artists in all styles and genres of music-making.

“Our work on the new MM Performer-Composer began with a question: What does a degree look like that is designed in the mold of creative music pioneers of the past and present like Bach, Bernstein, Coltrane, Ellington, or Meredith Monk?” said Richard Kessler, Executive Dean of The College of Performing Arts. “We are making a space that is modeled after these kinds of artists, a space where there are no barriers between disciplines and genres, and where experimentation is central to everything. With the new MM: Performer-Composer, we are inviting young artists to try new things, create new sounds and forms, and to see their own creative potential in broader ways.”

MM Performer-Composer students perform in self-organized ensembles, choose private instructors from a list of hundreds of New York-based creative musicians, and work side-by-side with leading contemporary music ensembles in residence at Mannes and New School Jazz, including JACK Quartet, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Creative Music Studio, and The New School’s Philip Glass Institute.

The faculty will be comprised of many who already teach at Mannes School of Music and the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. In addition, artists who perform at The Stone will take on guest faculty roles within the program. Courses such as the Stone Labs are project-based and artist-led, allowing students to create new work alongside Stone artists-in-residence such as Mary Halvorson, Wadada Leo Smith, Billy Martin, and many others.

Another central element to the ethos of the degree is the application of emerging technologies as a way to advance creative music. “I look forward to working with MM Performer-Composer students as they explore how they can use specialized tools and innovative approaches to expand their creative practice,” said Levy Lorenzo, Assistant Professor of Creative Technologies. “What we want to do is to help students see how they can use creative technologies of the past, present, and future to add to the work that they are already doing.” Levy’s new course, the BEEP Lab Ensemble, where students build and perform their own synthesizers, exemplifies the kind of experience that will be typical for MM Performer-Composer students. 

The MM Performer-Composer is a 17-months program that spans the full academic year including summer semester to allow for an intensive and focused approach. With this format, students are able to develop their practice and their voice in a focused and rigorous, yet creative and highly experimental environment.

For more information about the MM Performer-Composer, please visit our website.

The College of Performing Arts at The New School (CoPA) was formed in 2015 and brings together the iconic Mannes School of Music, the legendary School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the ground-breaking School of Drama. With each school contributing its unique culture of creative excellence, the College of Performing Arts is a hub for cross-disciplinary collaboration, bold experimentation, innovative education, and world-class performances. 

As a part of The New School, students across CoPA experience a supportive and rigorous environment that provides abundant opportunities for collaboration with students and faculty in a wide array of disciplines including the visual arts, fashion, design and technology, architecture, philosophy, psychology, public policy, advocacy, and more. CoPA has over 1100 students seeking degrees and diplomas in performance, composition, acting, writing, as well as arts management and entrepreneurship. New York City’s Greenwich Village provides the backdrop for the College of Performing Arts, which is housed at Arnhold Hall on West 13th Street and the historic Westbeth Artists Community on Bank Street.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

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