The Composition Program at SSMF offers two tracks for program participation:
the Composition Intensive and the Supplemental Study in Composition.

Composition Intensive

Students selected to study composition at Sewanee will have multiple opportunities to have their music performed, workshopped and coached during the festival. Students will enjoy weekly lessons and seminar with program coordinator Jorge Variego and have ample time to study, compose, and collaborate with fellow students and faculty members. The program is capped at four student composers in the composition track in order to allow ample time for reading sessions, rehearsals, and performances. Program highlights include:

  • Reading session with the Sewanee Symphony
  • Chamber music performances on the student chamber music series
  • Master classes in contemporary composition and performance techniques with selected festival faculty
  • Composition studio recital
  • Private lessons
  • Group seminar

Tentative Weekly Program

Week 1 
One-on-one collaborations
Collaboration with instrumental students, in short works written specifically for week one of SSMF. Premieres on the first Saturday of week 1.
+ daily group seminar
+ individual lessons

Week 2 
Film scoring intensive
+ individual lessons

Week 3 
Depending on performers availability, composers will have the option to write for either: brass quintet, wind quintet, percussion quartet, or pierrot plus percussion chamber group. Premiered on the Saturday of week 3.
+ individual lessons
+ daily group seminar
+ orchestra miniatures reading session (reading session of short orchestra pieces up to 4 minutes in duration)

Week 4
Final composers showcase. Composers will produce their own concert for mixed ensembles. Premieres on the last weekend of the festival
+ individual lessons
+ daily group seminar

In addition to the projected activities, we usually have master classes with guest artists (composers,
conductors, performers) participating in the festival.

Note: MOST performances are professionally audio and video recorded.


Program Director
Jorge Variego

More information on the Composition Faculty can be found on our faculty page.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition: $3,750
This includes all classes, lessons, seminars, and coachings during the program.

Room & Board: $2,050
This includes all meals, a double occupancy room, and access to campus facilities including the Fowler Athletic Center and duPont Library.

Refunds will not be granted for any reason if the inquiry is communicated to our office past May 19, 2024.

Audition requirements

Composition applicants should submit scores of  PDF ’s two contrasting works written for solo, chamber or large ensemble ( orchestra, chamber orchestra or wind band). Recordings or midi realizations are not required but encouraged. In addition, it is required one letter of recommendation or the contact information for two professional references in the field of music.

Application Fees and Deadlines

October 14, 2023
Application Opens!
$50.00 application fee

February 16th, 2024
Deadline for Early Bird application fee
$50.00 application fee Oct. 14 — Feb. 17

March 22nd, 2024
Final Application Deadline
$80.00 application fee Feb. 18 — Mar. 24

After March 22nd, 2024
Applications after March 22nd may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Supplemental Study in Composition

Instrumental festival participants may register for composition seminar and lessons for an additional fee. Students studying composition in this format will have the opportunity to attend the composition seminar, weekly private lessons, and compose for the seminar-workshop ensemble.

*Please note: if you are a composition student, lessons and seminar are included in your program experience. 

Supplemental Study Tuition: $500

This fee covers the cost of the supplemental study in composition for all 4 weeks of the Festival.

*Please note, scholarship funding is not available for supplemental study in composition.

For program questions, please contact Jorge Variego.

For all other program questions, please contact the Festival office.