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Music Theory & Composition

Guest Artists/Events

The Theory/Composition area invites guest speakers and composers to our campus each year.  Some of our previous guests artist are (click on their names below for more info):

Dr. J. Daniel Jenkins, Music Theory
University of South Carolina

Pulitzer Prize Winning Composer
February 17 – February 23, 2017

Dr. Andrea CheesemanDr. Andrea Cheeseman
Clarinet professor, Appalachian State University

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Concert of repertoire exclusively dedicated to music for clarinet and electronics. Dr. Cheeseman was a featured “soloist” with the Electroacoustic Ensemble.

Ed Klorman, Theorist

January 25-25, 2016

March 31, 2015

This ensemble will premiere a new work by Wolff and perform the Bartok Sonata for Two Percussion & Piano. Scott Deal worked with the percussion studio on Technology (9:40 - 10:55 AM). Scott Deal is the head of the IUPUI Technology Center.

Miles Hankins, composerApril 14, 2015
12:40 pm, G40 HMC

Lecture to Jazz and composition students: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nick Demopoulos, Jazz musicianNick Demopoulous is a jazz musician based in New York. His other areas of expertise are interface design, software design, programming and algorithmic composition. He has designed several musical interfaces, including one that is very much like a guitar that is used to control music software in a computer. (for an example, see

(Co-sponsored with the Studio Music & Jazz areas)

Ellen Reid, ComposerLecture: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Masterclass: Thursday, October 9, 2014

ELLEN REID is a composer and sound artist whose work "brims with canny invention" (LA Weekly). She creates visceral experiences where sound and story collide. Reid's work is largely collaborative and takes the form of opera, scores for dance, film, theater, and immersive interactive media. Reid's score for She Gone Rogue will be featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and her new opera Winter's Child was recently workshopped at The Industry's FIRST TAKE (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles), which was hailed as "full of imagination, full of promise" by the LA Times.

classroom during lecture by Ellen Reid, ComposerWhile at UT, she gave a talk to students about her background, her work, and her musical influences. In her masterclass, she worked with three students, listening to their music and making suggestions on their pieces.

The University of Tennessee Percussion Ensemble joined forces with contemporary music organization, Nief-Norf, to host a performance of John Luther Adams' outdoor masterpiece Inuksuit for 9 to 99 percussionists at Ijams Nature Center on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22nd, at 5 PM.

Directed by Andrew Bliss, UT's Assistant Professor of Percussion and Nief-Norf's Artistic Director, the performance will consist of several dozen percussionists from around the region, who will be visiting campus to perform and collaborate with the UT percussion students. Bliss was involved in both the world and U.S. premieres of Inuksuit in Banff, Alberta and Greenville, SC. He then traveled to New York City to perform the work in 2011, which ultimately led to his vision to bring Inuksuit to Knoxville.

Designed as a campus-wide event, John Luther Adams' visit to UT will begin on Monday, April 21st as he works closely in rehearsals with UT students. These rehearsals are open to the public and will be held in the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center's Percussion Suite (Room 133).

Adams will give a formal lecture to the UT community about his work, his compositions, and how they relate to his life as an environmental activist. This talk is free, open to the community, and will be held in the UT Art & Architecture Building (Rm 109) on Monday, April 21st at 6PM.

Tuesday's event at Ijams will feature an Earth Day performance of Inuksuit, an outdoor work that music critic Alex Ross called "one of the most rapturous experiences of [his] listening life." Audiences should plan to arrive early for this 5 PM event. Following the performance, Ijams Nature Center will be hosting an on-site reception for the composer, performers, and the audience, with food and drink available for purchase.

Born in 1953, Adams grew up in the South and in the suburbs of New York City. In the mid-1970s he became active in the campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and subsequently served as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. 

John Luther Adams has been called "one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century" (The New Yorker). His life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world, and he is known "for melding the physical and musical worlds into a unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries."

On Monday April 14th, 2014, Adams was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his recent orchestral work, Become Ocean.

Inuksuit and Adams' residency are generously supported by the Ijams Nature Center, UT Green Fee Committee, UT Percussion Studies Area, Nief-Norf, UT Department of Composition & Theory, UT Office of Sustainability, Professor Michael McKinney and the UT Department of Environmentalism Studies & Sustainability, UT Central Programming Council, Professor Cary Staples and the UT Department of Graphic Design, and UT's SPEAK (Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville) Committee.

For more information, please contact Andrew Bliss at Regular news surrounding UT Percussion Studies can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @UTPercussion. Regular news surrounding Nief-Norf can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @niefnorf. 

Steve ReichFriday, March 28, 2014
1:30-2:30 pm
Band Room, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

Steve Reich plays a recording of his piece "WTC 9/11" and discusses the piece and his compositions. To view more about Steve Reich, click here.

2014 Joint Conference of the College Music Society Southern and Mid-Atlantic Chapters and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI)

February 13-15, 2014

A keynote address by the great Doc Severinsen.

Premiere performances of The Doc Severinsen International Composition Contest winners, performed by solo trumpeters Vince DiMartino, Allen Vizzutti, and Gabe DiMartino with the UT Wind Ensemble and/or UT Symphony Orchestra.

A Thursday afternoon CMS Composers' Concert featuring new works for jazz ensembles and combos (performed by the UT Big Band and UT Jazz Combos).

The Saturday Annual Luncheon featuring the music of jazz legend Donald Brown, performed by Donald Brown and the UT Jazz Faculty.

February 13 – 15, 2014

A call for new works for solo trumpet and large ensemble (wind ensemble or symphony orchestra).

A world premiere performance with internationally renowned trumpeters Vince DiMartino and Allen Vizzutti accompanied by The University of Tennessee Wind Ensemble or Symphony Orchestra at the 2014 Joint Regional Conference of the College Music Society Southern Chapter,the College Music Society Mid-Atlantic Chapter, and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction

Winning pieces can be found here.

Sponsored by: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Arts & Sciences; The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Music; and The Southern Chapter of the College Music Society

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.