The Advanced Young Composers Project focuses on orchestration: covering the principals of harmony, voice leading, form, score reading and ear training. You’ll compose short works for each class which are played by visiting TSO ensembles. The final project this year is a unique challenge: a conducted, mixed ensemble of 7-10 musicians of your choice, performed by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at the Young Composers Festival in May. Many graduates from this program have continued to pursue composition at the undergraduate and graduate level at universities and conservatories across the United States.

Meet the Instructor

Inspired by the renegade eloquence of the American vernacular, the music of composer Vincent Calianno (b. 1979) “blurs the boundaries between fine art and popular culture” (VICE), through kaleidoscopic colorings, muscular rhythms, extreme stasis and motion, while curiously investigating new musical possibilities through new practices and obsolescent technologies. Calianno’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Thalea String Quartet, JACK Quartet, Nouveau Classical Project, Ensemble Mise-en, Jennifer Koh, John Pickford Richards, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Artifact Dance Project, and others. In addition to his concert works, Calianno has an active career in scoring for film and new media. His credits include music for Adecco, Morgan Stanley, and AlixPartners campaigns, as well as films and dramatic podcasts. His awards include the ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize, the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Award, and the Sarah Award for Best New Podcast.

Calianno holds degrees in composition from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music, University of Illinois, and New York University. In 2019, Calianno co-founded Two Trains, a hybrid music-theatre-dance project focused on abstract and inventive storytelling through the combined expressions of imagery and sound. For more information, visit

2020-21 Class Schedule

Classes take place on the Saturdays listed below, from 1:00-3:00 PM. The six Musician Workshops will be held in person, in the Performance Hall at the Tucson Symphony Center (2175 N. 6th Ave), and socially distanced following CDC guidelines. All other classes will be held remotely on Zoom. Deadlines are noted in blue.

Oct. 3 – First Class

Oct. 10
Oct. 17 – Brass Quintet Workshop
Oct. 24 – Piano/Keyboard Workshop – Class Change/Payment Due Deadline
Oct. 31
Nov. 7 – String Quintet Workshop
Nov. 14- Timpani Workshop
Nov. 21
Dec. 5 – Wind Quintet Workshop 
Dec. 12 – Percussion Workshop

Jan. 16
Jan. 23
Jan. 30 – Guest Speaker TSO Composer in Residence, Dan Coleman
Feb. 6
Feb. 20 – Guest Speaker TSO Orchestra Librarian, Carrie White
Mar. 6
Mar. 13 – Rough Draft Due
Mar. 27
Apr. 10
Apr. 17
Apr. 24 – Final Project Due
May 1
May 8 – Final Assessment
May 15 – Student Bios and Headshots Due (No Class)

Rehearsals – Remote Session via Zoom
Advanced Ensemble 1 Rehearsal: May 11, 7-8 PM
Advanced Ensemble 2 Rehearsal: May 13, 7-8 PM

Private Viewing Party – Remote Session via Zoom
Advanced Class Viewing Party: June 12, 1 PM

Public Digital Release – TSO Website and Social Media
Advanced Ensemble 1 Performances: June 15, 2021
Advanced Ensemble 2 Performances: June 18, 2021

For the first time ever, TSO Young Composers Project will be adding a few optional sessions during the summer months, open to all 2020-21 students.

Conducting Workshop with Music Director Jose Luis Gomez
June 5, 10 – 11 AM – Remote via Zoom

Meet Maestro Gomez and learn about what conductors look for in new music scores, how they rehearse ensembles, and try on a few conducting moves of your own.

Student Think Tank Session
June 26, 1 – 3 PM – Remote via Zoom

Now in its 28th year, the Young Composers Project is in a time of growth and change. As improvements and additions to the program are considered, it is vital that YOU, the composers, have your voices heard. This “think tank” session will be a collaborative student effort reflecting on all aspects the program – what is working, what could be improved, and what you would like to see it become for other students following in your footsteps.

This student-led session is not mandatory, but it is a platform upon which to share your thoughts and opinions. The feedback and ideas provided during the session will be used by TSO Director of Education to continue to advocate for new ways the program can benefit and represent its students. A 2019 student think tank led to the addition of the Intermediate Level class, hiring another composition instructor, and increased musician involvement in the program – all based on student suggestions!