Orchestral and Choral

Choral and Orchestral Conducting programs are accepting applications for the DMA program only for fall 2021.

The graduate Conducting programs at Boston University combine study of orchestral and choral conducting techniques and literature with related work in performance, music theory, and musicology. The setting, residing within the structure both of a school of music and of a major research university, is vibrant and intimate. Conducting students, whether specializing in orchestral conducting or in choral conducting, join a diverse community of scholar-performers, led by distinguished, creative, and experienced faculty. In addition, the School of Music supports active centers of early music and new music.

Orchestral conductors study their principal area throughout their residency and concurrently, for a portion of their residency, study choral conducting. Similarly, choral conductors study orchestral conducting as part of their curriculum. As part of their formal training, orchestral conductors work in rehearsal and performance with the School of Music orchestras, and choral conductors work with the choral ensembles. Boston’s deep and thriving musical environment also offers energetic and creative students many possibilities for extra-curricular involvement both with amateur and with professional musical organizations.

The choral literature surveys at both the master’s and doctoral levels are significant to the Choral Conducting curriculum. With the graduate conducting seminars, these repertoire surveys offer in-depth and thorough examination of style, sources, and performance practice and application, fully complementary to the academic offerings and requirements of graduate study in choral conducting.

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Graduate Programs

Degrees Offered

  • Master of Music (MM)
  • Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
  • Master of Sacred Music (MSM) — offered through the School of Theology

Typical Class Sizes

Orchestral Conducting

There are only two or three graduate Orchestral Conducting students in residence at any time; they may be either MM or DMA students. Orchestral Conducting students who come to study at Boston University typically enter the program with highly developed, experienced musical and conducting backgrounds, and they are fully on the level with the most mature and advanced of the School’s instrumentalists.

Choral Conducting

The graduate Choral Conducting studio varies in size year to year, but is constructed on a model where students benefit from group instruction, rather than private lessons. Typically, there are 10 to 12 students in residence at any time, all of whom actively participate in each other’s learning process, as well as providing leadership with School of Music choral ensembles.

Unique Opportunities

Because the School of Music Conducting enrollment is intentionally small, students enjoy close contact with their mentors, colleagues, other musicians and composers, and conducting opportunities of an informal nature present themselves with some frequency. Both Orchestral and Choral graduate conducting students also have a history of involving themselves in the large, active professional and amateur Boston musical communities beyond the School of Music, numbers of them having become assistant conductors for some of these organizations. In addition, quite a few have formed their own choral ensembles, chamber ensembles, new music ensembles and orchestras, some of which have thrived beyond the conductor’s study at BU and continue to contribute to the wealth of musical activity in Boston.

Graduate conductors work closely with the School of Music orchestral or choral ensembles. The orchestral conductors appear with the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and/or Chamber Orchestra, both leading performances and serving as active assistant conductors to the ensembles’ conductors. When appropriate to the needs of the ensembles and the skills of the graduate conductor, students also lead sectional rehearsals on the repertoire under preparation.

Likewise, the choral conductors serve on a rotating basis as assistant conductors with the Boston University Symphonic Chorus and the Boston University Singers, leading performances and sectionals as need arises, and as skills and experience permit. Conducting Fellowships are also available at Marsh Chapel for graduate students in choral conducting.

Faculty Members—Conducting Faculty and Ensemble Directors

  • Jennifer Bill

    Lecturer in Music, Saxophone; Conductor, Concert Band

  • James Burton

    Director of Orchestral Activities and Master Lecturer, Music

  • William Lumpkin

    Associate Professor of Music, Opera; Artistic Director, Opera Institute; Director, Opera Programs

  • David J. Martins

    Master Lecturer of Music, Clarinet; Director , Wind Ensemble; Chair, Ensembles

  • Mark Miller

    Lecturer in Music; Conductor, All-Campus Orchestra

  • Mariah Wilson

    Lecturer in Music; Director of Choral Activities

Notable Alumni and Principal Positions