Orchestral Conducting Degrees

Graduate Degrees in Orchestral Conducting

Graduate Degrees in Orchestral Conducting

Woman with red hair conducting a symphony orchestra

KU offers first class MM and DMA programs in Orchestral Conducting. These competitive programs offer students the opportunity to conduct a broad range of repertoire in preparation for a professional conducting career. The art of conducting is examined from the perspective of gesture and movement, score study/analysis/ear training, and rehearsal techniques and strategies. In addition, students learn a broad range of orchestral repertoire within social and historic contexts. A secondary focus is placed on the operatic and theatrical experience as part of the path to becoming a well-rounded conductor.

The University of Kansas graduate orchestral conducting program offers a highly specialized and intensive pre-professional training experience. The conducting studio is limited to a small number of qualified and experienced candidates in order to provide personalized instruction and ample podium time.
Graduate conductors work regularly with the KU Symphony Orchestra leading sectional and tutti rehearsals, and also act as cover conductor for the Director of Orchestral Activities. Qualified students are offered opportunities to lead the award-winning KU Symphony Orchestra in performances on which occasion they are charged with complete musical preparation for the works programmed. Where appropriate, graduate conductors are offered opportunities as assistant conductor for KU Opera productions. Student conductors also lead the symphony orchestra in repertoire reading sessions including concerti and student composition workshop sessions. The first rehearsal of every concert cycle is also typically led by the graduate conductors.
In addition to weekly lessons and a conducting seminar, the graduate orchestral conducting studio lead and manage all aspects of the KU University Orchestra, for whom this ensemble doubles as a lab orchestra.
The KU Graduate Orchestral Conducting program anticipates openings, including a GTA position in Fall 2021. The GTA position comes with a full tuition waiver and an annual stipend. On-campus auditions for selected applicants will take place in Spring 2021. For more information, please contact Dr. Carolyn Watson, Director of Orchestral Activities.

General Information

It is preferred that all applicants for the Master of Music in conducting degree have a bachelor’s degree in music performance or one year of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. It is preferred that all applicants for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting have a masters degree in orchestral conducting or two years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. This may include public school or university teaching, directing a professional or semi-professional ensemble, or other equivalent professional arenas.

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