As far as I know this is the only composer-performer doctorate program that exists. It’s not a typical dual degree; instead it combines the two notions. As a composer, pianist and a conductor, I was presented with the opportunity to exercise all, merging the ideas of analysis, synthesis and performance.
The faculty is invested in the students’ ideas; they influence them while not trying to impose their own. There is not one school of thought. They want us to evolve our own thinking and write the music that we want to write. Surrounded by these amazing composers and performers—both students and faculty—you find the motivation to think, exercise your craft, compose and perform.
Stimulation does not come only from my discipline. Being part of one of the best art schools in the country offers you the opportunity to get in touch with artists that exercise different crafts, are from different ethnicities, backgrounds and ideologies; to exchange ideas with people doing things entirely different than you are, but who share your will to collaborate and communicate.
As a doctoral candidate at CalArts, my responsibilities also include teaching undergrads, so I understand that very “productive confusion” that some can have in the beginning, and that I, too, had in my early 20s. You look at the course offerings and you want to take everything. It’s the candy shop. Everything is appealing. Everything can be stimulating. So, your guard is down and your eyes and ears are open to everything. You want to take advantage of what people offer you and what you offer them. This truly is a community.