Led by Örjan Sandred and Gordon Fitzell, the Desautels Faculty of Music’s Composition Department offers a unique and creative approach to music making. With an emphasis on individual student focus, the program offers opportunities in a broad range of innovative areas. The faculty possesses world-class expertise in acoustic and live electronic music, as well as projects incorporating computer-assisted composition, improvisation, multimedia and interdisciplinary elements.


One of the advantages of studying at a medium-sized faculty is increased opportunity, not only in terms of public performance but also individual instruction. In addition to a wide array seminars and lectures, graduate composition students receive one hours of private instruction (90 minutes for graduate students) each week. Other specialized areas of study include computer music and orchestration.

Students have access to numerous valuable resources at the faculty: Studio FLAT—a state-of-the-art computer music studio with 8-channel playback; the eXperimental Improv Ensemble (XIE); and the comprehensive Eckhardt-Gramatté Music Library.


Composition students have many opportunities to collaborate with ensembles within and outside the university. These collaborative projects give students the chance to work closely with performers and receive valuable feedback on their writing. In particular, our graduate composition program includes designated funding to hire professional musicians for each graduate student’s final recital, and the opportunity to write for a dedicated but flexible student chamber ensemble.

In addition, the larger ensembles of the Desautels Faculty of Music—such as the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra, the Wind Ensemble, and University Singers, as well as the Contemporary Opera Lab—regularly perform student compositions. Many students also have their music performed by professional ensembles at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s concert series, GroundSwell’s new music series, the Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival, and the send + receive festival of sound art.


Each year the Desautels Faculty of Music hosts an impressive roster of world-renowned guest composers and performing artists, often in conjunction with a concert, lecture, masterclass, reading session or private lessons. Recent guests have included such luminaries as Steve Reich, Hans Tutschku and Lori Freedman, as well as ensembles like eighth blackbird and the Penderecki String Quartet.