Leslie Ann Jones, Austin Wintory, Jeff Beal and Laura Karpman Headline an All-Star Cast of Visiting Industry Faculty and Guest Artists in Innovative New Program of Technology and Applied Composition Scoring and Sound Design for Film, Games and New Media at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

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November 6, 2014


Leslie Ann Jones, Austin Wintory, Jeff Beal and Laura Karpman

Headline an All-Star Cast of Visiting Industry Faculty and Guest Artists


Innovative New Program of Technology and Applied Composition

Scoring and Sound Design for Film, Games and New Media

at the

San Francisco Conservatory of Music


Roster Also Includes Composers

Jessica Curry, Dear Esther

Dren McDonald, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive


and Thought Leaders

Jaron Lanier, Who Owns the Future?

Karen Collins, The Game Institute


San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) announces the appointment of an all-star cast of Visiting Industry Faculty and Guest Artists to its new Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program, an undergraduate degree offering an unparalleled foundation for success in the diverse and evolving music industry. A unique curriculum integrating compositional craft with music technology will launch a new generation of composers adept in the fields of concert music, sound design and film and game scoring. Now accepting applications for the inaugural class of 2015, the Conservatory will produce versatile graduates who thrive as individual artists and as members of a creative team.

Practitioners and thought leaders from the film and game music industry come together to furnish a deep bench of talent for the Technology and Applied Composition program:

  • Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound and multiple Grammy Award-winning recording engineer;
  • Austin Wintory, creator of over 40 feature film scores, including the Sundance Film Festival hit Grace, and music for video games such as Playstation 3’s Journey, the first soundtrack ever to receive a Grammy Award nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media;
  • Jeff Beal, three-time Emmy Award-winning composer of music for film, media and the concert hall, and creator of the score and theme for the NetFlix drama House of Cards;
  • Laura Karpman, four-time Emmy Award-winning composer of film, television, videogame, concert and theater music, whose distinguished credits include scoring Black Nativity (Fox Searchlight) and Odyssey 5 (Showtime); 
  • Jessica Curry, BAFTA-nominated composer, joint studio head of The Chinese Room game development studio and creator of the multiple award-winning score to the pioneering interactive game Dear Esther;
  •  Dren McDonald, noted game audio composer, sound designer and audio director, and creator of scores to games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive;
  • Jaron Lanier, celebrated technology writer and author of Who Owns the Future, winner of a 2014 Goldsmith Book Prize;
  • Karen Collins, author of four books on game audio and Canada Research Chair in Interactive Audio at the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

“We are honored and delighted to welcome this august group of artists and teachers to the Technology and Applied Composition faculty at SFCM,” says President David H. Stull. “Their presence will provide transformative learning opportunities for our students and facilitate the ongoing development of an outstanding program. It is a pleasure to have them with us.”


Noted film composer Jeff Beal clearly grasps the timeliness of such a program for today’s young composers. “Being a composer in the 21st century is an expansive and complex enterprise,” says Beal. “Never have the technical demands and possible outlets for creative music been so rich and varied. I’m thrilled to be a part of this program at the San Francisco Conservatory, where we will be able to look at creativity, collaborative thinking, dramatic storytelling and workflows that bridge both the digital and acoustic worlds of recording and producing music.”

Commenting on his appointment to the program, film and game composer Austin Wintory mixes infectious enthusiasm with the wit and whimsy one might expect from a veteran game composer. “I have had the joy of working with many different educational programs throughout the world, but I must admit to being especially excited at the prospects of what SFCM is offering here,” Wintory says. “From everything we’ve already discussed, to looking at the other guests who’ll be contributing, it’s clear that students in this program are going to get an extremely well-rounded look at virtually every relevant aspect of today’s industry. It’s a classic case in which I feel simultaneously honored to contribute and deeply envious of the students. Is it too late for me to enroll myself?”

Visiting Industry Faculty and Guest Artists also serve on the program’s Artistic Advisory Committee, sharing expertise in the recording, music technology, film and game industries to help ensure that the program’s curriculum and technology stay up to date with contemporary practice. Leslie Ann Jones, Jaron Lanier, Dren McDonald, Karen Collins and Jessica Curry were previously announced as members of the Artistic Advisory Committee in an updated press announcement on October 17.

Resident Academic Faculty. The foundation of the TAC program rests on the bedrock of its distinguished roster of resident academic faculty, which includes:

  • MaryClare Brzytwa, associate dean of new media and music technology, chair of the TAC program, and a multi-instrumental composer/performer specializing in electronic music and improvisation;
  • Luciano Chessa, musicologist and performer acclaimed in The New York Times for his reconstruction and performances of Italian Futurist composer Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori orchestra;
  • David Conte, chair of composition and distinguished composer of more than 80 published works for stage, concert hall, chorus and film;
  • Scott Foglesong, chair of musicianship and theory, lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute, and contributing writer and pre-concert lecturer for the San Francisco Symphony;
  • Alden Jenks, a pioneer in experimental electronic music composition who has collaborated with Karlheinz Stockhausen, David Tudor and John Cage;
  • Jason O’Connell, director of sound recording and a regular producer/editing engineer for the San Francisco Symphony, with credits on the Naxos, BIS, Polytone and EMI labels;
  • Nicholas Pavkovic, lecturer in musicianship and music theory, composer of concert works and film scores, and impresario/performer.

To learn more about the TAC resident academic faculty, visit http://www.sfcm.edu/tac/faculty.


To hear faculty members discuss the TAC program, watch this video introduction.



Composition Faculty. In years three and four of the program, students may study privately with the distinguished members of SFCM’s composition department, well known for its history of advocating new music under the leadership of composers such as John Adams, Conrad Susa and Ernest Bloch, director of the Conservatory from 1925-30. Current faculty includes:

  • Elinor Armer, founder and former chair of SFCM’s composition department, co-founder of Composers, Inc. and recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and commissions. Her works are published by J.B. Elkus & Son, a division of Subito Music Corporation.
  • Mason Bates, one of the most widely-performed symphonic composers of his generation, known for writing innovative, classically-conceived orchestral works that incorporate techniques derived from his career as a DJ and techno artist, such as electronic sounds and samples performed on drumpad and laptop. Read the previous announcement of Bates’ recent appointment here.
  • David Conte, chair (see above).
  • David Garner, former department chair and recipient of the George Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award. His Vilna Poems released on the PentaTone label were selected as a finalist this year in The American Prize for Composition. He is currently at work on a full-length opera commissioned by Opera Parallèle for a 2016 premiere.

To learn more about the composition faculty, visit http://www.sfcm.edu/faculty/departments/composition.

Application Deadlines. SFCM is now accepting applications for fall 2015 admission. Applicants who apply by the early action deadline of December 1 receive priority consideration for merit-based scholarships and notification of admission and financial aid decisions by March 1. Those who apply by the extended deadline of February 1 receive admission and financial aid decisions by April 1.


Professional Development Events. SFCM is hosting two special professional development events in conjunction with the launch of the TAC program. Video game industry insiders, composers and performers share ideas for creating music for new audiences at “Game On!,” an event exploring careers in video game and film music on Tuesday, November 25 at 6:30 p.m. A collaboration between SFCM, American Composers Forum and Game Audio Network Guild, Game On! features a “demo derby” critique of participants’ recordings and a performance of string quartets by game and film composers Austin Wintory, Lennie Moore, Dren McDonald and composition department chair David Conte. In addition to Conte, McDonald and Moore, featured guests include Jonathan Mayer, senior music manager at Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, and Mike Morasky, director and programmer at Valve software and entertainment company. Composers may submit demos for consideration by midnight, November 16, to [email protected].

From January 15-17, SFCM hosts the New Music Gathering, three days of performances, presentations and discussions spotlighting artist-led ensembles. Event headliners include the Kronos Quartet with Wu Man, pianist and SFCM faculty member Sarah Cahill, and alumni duo The Living Earth Show. Flutist and new music entrepreneur Claire Chase provides the keynote address. For more information, visit http://www.newmusicgathering.org/


All events take place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, located at 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102.


Biographies and photos of Visiting Industry Faculty and Guest Artists are attached here. To learn more about Technology and Applied Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, visit www.sfcm.edu/tac and watch this video introduction.




About the Technology and applied composition program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music:

The Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program combines an exceptional conservatory curriculum with cutting-edge production practices in concert music, sound design and film and video game scoring. SFCM’s outstanding academic and industry faculty provide TAC majors with an unparalleled foundation for success in the divers and evolving music industry. Program highlights include professional quality recording labs and sound studios sponsored by Meyer Sound, sE Electronics and Rupert Neve Designs; collaborative projects with leading Bay Area media companies including Electronic Arts and Skywalker Sound; certification credentials in the most relevant software applications; and a central location in a city that leads the world in technology, innovation and the arts.


An exceptional conservatory curriculum provides a solid framework for the program. Students master cutting-edge production practices, music theory, ear training and orchestration as well as develop critical thinking skills and sound business practices. They study virtual and acoustic instrument design, learn to improvise, and assimilate the history of film and game aesthetics. Working in a set of state-of-the-art audio labs, young composers learn to use the computer and recording studio as instruments to conceive and perform their own acoustic and electronic music.

Certification exams in Logic ProX, Final Cut Pro and Pro Tools ensure that students achieve fluency in the most relevant software applications. Courses using Max/MSP visual programming language reveal the inner logic of sound design and recording programs, equipping students with the tools they need to master any software application and workflow process, or to invent their own. Resident faculty offer close mentorship and visiting professionals evaluate student portfolios for outside feedback on creative development. Guest faculty and artists will be drawn from industry leaders, including Electronic Arts and Skywalker Sound, who help prepare students for life after graduation. And at every stage of training, students will create music appropriate to the specific artistic, technical and practical requirements of each project.


This combination of professional quality studios, resident faculty, visiting artists, artistic advisors and Bay Area industry alliances will create a one-of-a-kind musical experience for undergraduates pursuing a career in music and technology. Anticipating the launch of this program, a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal cited the Conservatory’s initiative to prepare students for careers in an evolving industry.

: To support the program, four state-of-the-art studios for recording, mixing and production featuring speakers, equipment and acoustic installations sponsored by Meyer Sound, sE Electronics and Rupert Neve Designs are almost complete. These include:
  • a Digital Audio Keyboard Lab, a 14 station digital audio production lab with Apple computers, software, and digital pianos;
  • an acoustically tempered Live Room with grand piano available for recording projects and the rehearsal of electro-acoustic music;
  • a Mixing Classroom for recording and teaching that is networked to the school’s three performance halls and equipped with a 32-channel Neve Console, a Meyer HD 5.1 Surround Sound monitoring system and Moog synthesizers;
  • a Premium Listening Suite with 5.1 surround sound and computers running orchestral sample libraries designed for editing, mastering and a post-production work by visiting artists, students and faculty.

To learn more about the studios, visit http://www.sfcm.edu/tac/studios. For more on the program, visit www.sfcm.edu/tac, read our press release announcing the program, and watch this video introduction.


About The San Francisco Conservatory of Music:

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, soprano Elza van den Heever, Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman and Ronald Losby, President, Steinway & Sons-Americas, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Pre-College Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit www.sfcm.edu.


Download the media release in PDF format.


© 2014 San Francisco Conservatory of Music. All Rights Reserved.

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