Announcing New Contemporary Music Performance Degree

August 09, 2014

*Please note: As of July 1, 2016, the M.M. in Contemporary Music Performance will now be offered as an M.M. in Classical Contemporary Music Performance.


Boston Conservatory is offering a new Master of Music degree in Contemporary Music Performance. The two-year program will provide students advanced training in new music, specifically in works post-1950, in a broad range of styles; it will provide specialized training in entrepreneurship and the skills musicians need to find success in the modern music world; and it will offer unique opportunities for practica with some of Boston’s finest performing arts organizations. Led by clarinetist and new music champion Michael Norsworthy, the new contemporary music performance program will begin in the fall of 2015.

“This program is designed for students interested in working with living composers, commissioning new projects and creating their own artistic opportunities,” said Abra Bush, D.M.A., former dean of the music division. “It will train the Conservatory’s 21st-century artists for real world careers through the mentorship of some of the top musicians in the new music field.”                             

Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s M.M. in Contemporary Music Performance will be comprised of both a performance program and relevant coursework. Students will take applied lessons and participate in a contemporary music ensemble, which will perform many new works each year written by students in the Conservatory’s composition program, as well as works by internationally-recognized, living composers. In addition, M.M. students will take a range of courses, including advanced aural skills, graduate seminars in music history focusing on works post-1950, and contemporary compositional techniques, in addition to courses on writing and communicating about music. Students will also take coursework that will teach them entrepreneurial skills specific to the music industry, including elective options such as digital media, digital portfolio, and grant writing, and they’ll have the opportunity for practica with some of Boston’s finest performing arts organizations. 

“This degree is geared toward teaching our students, on a practical level, how to shape their own musical futures and collaborate with each other across the spectrum of contemporary music,” said Program Director Michael Norsworthy. “Drawing strength from the Conservatory’s other divisions, students will not only gain musical knowledge, they will also participate in inter-divisional projects involving dance, art, and theater and learn how to effectively share their work with other performers, composers and the world at large. In the end, the students who complete this program will be prepared to participate collaboratively, collegially and intelligently in the creation of new, 21st-century works.”

Norsworthy is a celebrated champion of the modern repertoire, having given more than 150 world premieres with leading contemporary music groups, including the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble 21, and the Ensemble InterContemporain. He has also collaborated with composers from around the globe, including Helmut Lachenmann, Michael Finnissy, Elliott Carter, Magnus Lindberg and many others. He frequently collaborates with artists working in other mediums, having worked in the motion picture industry, toured with numerous musical theater productions and been presented alongside works by major visual and jazz artists

“This new master’s program really builds on a tremendous strength that the Boston Conservatory already has in the creation and performance of new works,” said Bush. “Many of our faculty members have expertise in new music and, in the last academic year alone, more than 200 premieres of student works were performed at the Conservatory. The M.M. in contemporary music performance program draws on that existing expertise and really shapes it into something that will help its students succeed in an ever-changing performance landscape. These are the tools they will need as they enter the profession.”

Learn more about the Boston Conservatory’s M.M. in Contemporary Music Performance.