Course Description

Conducting Emphasis

Program Goals 

The Master of Arts in conducting degree program is designed for the professional preparation of a conductor, with emphasis in choral and orchestral music. The program seeks to achieve this preparation by (1) development of conducting and ensemble rehearsal techniques, (2) exploration of a large body of music literature, (3) development of skills in music analysis and score preparation, and (4) continued development of a broad knowledge of music theory and history.

Students in this program are also encouraged to continue development of skills in performance or composition.

Program Description 

The curriculum includes individual instruction in the techniques of conducting, score preparation, rehearsal preparation, and rehearsal techniques. Significant conducting experience with official university ensembles is included in the program, with at least one year of service as the assistant conductor for one or more of these ensembles. Public conducting performances, as assigned by the conducting teacher are required.

Because candidates for this degree gain extensive experience conducting one or more university ensembles, the music department limits enrollment to ensure that all candidates can receive this important experience. Before beginning the application process, please check with the conducting professors to ensure that new candidates can be accommodated.

Admission Requirements 

A candidate applying for admission to the master’s program in conducting should have completed a recognized bachelor’s degree in music. A typical bachelor’s degree in music includes the following:

a. 12–16 credits in music theory and analysis
b. 6–9 credits in music history
c. Courses in conducting, counterpoint, form and analysis, and orchestration

A candidate who is deficient in any area may be considered for admission, but must be prepared to make up the deficiency, without credit toward the degree.

Admission Procedures 

The admission process begins with completion of the online graduate admission application and payment of the application fee. The application fee is non-refundable. Applications without fees cannot be processed. All other application materials required in the portfolio must be sent to the Department of Music.

The following items are required to complete an application for the conducting program:

  1. Three letters of recommendation
  2. A curriculum vitae (or resume) detailing your training and musical experience.
  3. A personal statement outlining your long-range professional goals and how you believe graduate study in the music department will help you attain these goals.
  4. A list of works that you have studied in preparation for conducting. The list should indicate those works that you have conducted in performance, those you have rehearsed, and those you have studied but not actually conducted.
  5. In addition to the list of works, applicants are required to submit a list of the 30 works for orchestra that you consider to be the most significant from a historical and/or musical standpoint.
  6. A DVD video recording of your conducting. The DVD should show you rehearsing an ensemble/orchestra (international applicants must speak in English language), or conducting a performance. It should be 10–15 minutes in length and you should be facing the camera. A YouTube link in lieu of a physical DVD is also acceptable.
  7. Following receipt of DVDs, the most qualified applicants will be invited to the music department for campus interviews and an audition conducting a university ensemble in previously assigned repertoire. Applicants will also be required to demonstrate basic skills at the keyboard. The audition for orchestral conducting will take place on Tuesday, February 5, 2013. The required repertoire will be Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Suite No. 2 (op. 64:2).

Choral conducting:
Jeffrey Thomas
Director of Choral Studies
Barbara K. Jackson Chair in Choral Conducting
Department of Music, University of California at Davis
(530) 754-7538

Orchestral conducting:
Christian Baldini
Director of Orchestral Studies
Music Director, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
(530) 752-1320

D. Kern Holoman
Emeritus Music Director, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
(530) 752-1941

In summary, the following items must be received before an application can be reviewed:
• Completed online UC Davis Graduate School Application and paid application
• Three letters of recommendation (we do not have a recommendation form; the recommenders should use school or personal stationery when submitting their letters online)
• Curriculum Vitae (or resume)
• Personal statement
• Repertoire list
• Thirty-work list (orchestral applicants only)
• DVD video recording of conducting (international applicants must speak in English language)
• Official TOEFL score form (international applicants only)

Direct all inquiries and send materials to: 
Music Graduate Program
Attn: Marian Bilheimer
241 Wright Hall
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 754-6973  


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