Bachelor of Music in Composition

The Bachelor of Music in Composition is intended for those who want the maximum training in compositional technique possible at the undergraduate level. Students in this degree spend 2/3 of their time in music courses and receive a solid introduction to composition, theory, arranging, orchestration, counterpoint, historical styles and genres, ethnomusicology and the new tools of the electronic studio. They create a portfolio of scores, performance recordings and software files sufficient to audition for graduate schools in music composition and begin building a career as a composer of acoustic or commercial music.

Students have gone on to careers as college professors, school music teachers, free-lance composers/arrangers, publishing house editors, church musicians, private music teachers, home-studio owners, popular music composers and performers, and hobbyists with a variety of “day jobs” enjoying music in their spare time.

Taylor Whatley works with Prof. Greg Youtz in Mary Baker Russell Music Center at PLU on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (Photo/John Struzenberg)
Taylor Whatley ’15 works with Professor Greg Youtz on his original composition, ‘Fanfare Giocoso,’ which premiered as the opening number of Lake Union Civic Orchestra’s first concert of 2014-15.
Strengths of the Composition Program

  • Three to four composition professors are available at PLU at all times, allowing students the opportunity to study with teachers from different backgrounds and with different perspectives and teaching styles.
  • A bi-weekly Composition Seminar allows students to share their work with their peers for feedback and builds a sense of community amongst the diverse group of students studying composition.
  • Each semester, the composition studio produces two concerts: The Composers Forum Concert showcases acoustic music performed live on Lagerquist stage in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center. Usually focusing on chamber music, it sometimes includes works for choir and chamber orchestra. This concert is recorded, providing students with archival recordings for their portfolios.  The second is The Songwriter’s Workshop Concert, which showcases student-composed popular songs and commercial music produced in PLU’s electronic music studios.
  • Each year a senior composition major is selected to compose a piece for the University Symphony Orchestra to perform at their annual Student Soloists Concert in the spring. This is a rare opportunity for an undergraduate composer.
  • Numerous student compositions have been performed and toured by major PLU ensembles.
  • In applied and commercial music, student composers can produce scores for campus theater productions and dance concerts, and also have the opportunity to collaborate with students, faculty, and off-campus clients in the scoring of films and advertisements produced by the Department of Communication and Theatre’s MediaLab.

Students have gone on to graduate programs at...

  • University of Michigan
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Arizona
  • Central Michigan State University
  • Florida State University
  • University of Victoria
  • and more

Student Compositions

Rhapsody for Organ and Orchestra by Taylor Whatley

“Sunrise” by The Olson Bros Band

La Otra for choir by Jason Saunders

Four Miniatures for wind ensemble by Caleb Medeiros


Derek Gibson '21

Derek Gibson wrote this original rap song while under quarantine in spring 2020. A creative student responded to the pandemic and made art about it!

Olson Brothers

Luke Olson ’13 of The Olson Bros, wrote “Lookin’ At You.” The band won the 2013 Texaco Country Showdown songwriting contest.

Drum Taps

Composition Professor Greg Youtz talks about his new piece “Drum Taps” and how the poetry of Walt Whitman inspired him.

Jason Saunders '11

Jason Saunders ’11 talks about his experience composing and his passion for writing and choir music.

Composition Faculty

Lauren Kott


Dawn Sonntag

Dawn Sonntag