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The Bachelor of Music in Composition is designed for students who wish to pursue careers as composers or arrangers, or who wish to continue musical study in composition, music theory, or musicology at the graduate level. Depending on interests, composition students have options in traditional or commercial styles with additional options in audio production.

Whether you've written symphonies, or have never written a note before, music students may take beginning and advanced private lessons in composition. You will be able to work one-on-one with faculty members to turn the music in your head into a live performance on the stage. You may also enroll for courses in computer music to learn recording techniques, digital audio production and working in multimedia.

Composition: Traditional Track

This track is ideal for students who wish to develop their own compositional style and pursue a career as a professional composer or arranger or continue to graduate school in composition or a related field.

Admission Requirements:

  • Successful audition
  • Theory placement exam
  • Optional piano placement
  • Submission of 2-3 original composition works
  • Interview with Composition Area Coordinator

Composition: Commercial Music Production Track

This track is ideal for students who aspire to work in the commercial music industry as a composer, arranger, or producer in studio and live music settings. The track provides significant training in music theory with experience both in traditional and commercial approaches.

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Students who choose this track work with faculty across multiple music disciplines. Here is a link to the faculty in music.

Kurt Sander

Kurt Sander, D.M.A.


Kurt Sander's compositions have been performed in 15 countries on five different continents. Much of his choral and instrumental work takes its inspiration from the sublime dimensions of the Eastern Orthodox faith and the richness of its artistic traditions.​

His sacred choral work has been recorded and performed by professional ensembles throughout the world including Cappella Romana, the Kastalsky Choir (RUS), the Cincinnati Camerata, the Cantata Singers of Ottawa (CAN), the St. Romanos Cappella, the Clarion Choir, Archangel Voices, the Patriarch Tikhon Choir, and The Orthodox Singers (RUS) and the PaTRAM Institute Singers.

In 2017, he received a commission by the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM) for a new English-language setting of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This 90-minute work was recorded by the PaTRAM Institute Singers under the direction of Peter Jermihov and released as a 2 CD set on Reference Recordings label in 2019. The CD of this work was nominated for a Grammy in 2020 under the "Best Choral Album" category.

Sander was one of five featured composers on the collaborative composition "Heaven and Earth" which was commissioned by the St. John of Damascus Society and will be recorded in 2021 by the renowned choral ensemble Cappella Romana under the direction of Michael Boyer. The CD is scheduled for international release in 2022 on the Cappella Recordings label.

Sander has also acquired notoriety for his chamber and orchestral writing. He was recently named a finalist in the American Prize for his song cycle "Ella's Song" about the life of St. Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia. Other instrumental works have been performed by the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Brasov Philharmonic (Romania), the Pleven Philharmonic (Bulgaria), the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Synchronia, the Corbett Trio, the Solaris Wind Quintet, and the St. Petersburg Quartet.

​Sander currently serves as Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Theory and Composition at Northern Kentucky University. He holds degrees in composition from Northwestern University, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Cleveland State University where he studied with Bain Murray, Alan Stout, Rudolph Bubalo, and Andrew Imbrie.

Sander's music is published through Musica Russica and Media Press, Inc.



Core Curriculum

At NKU, you will have the chance to learn the ins and outs of the language of music. Music Theory and Musicianship studies are at the core of all music degrees.

These courses include four semesters of each of the following:

  • Written Theory (structures and compositional techniques used throughout music)
  • Aural Skills (transcribing music and hearing it correctly in your head)
  • Keyboard Skills (basic piano technique and applications of theory/aural skills)

In addition to this basic curriculum, there are also more advanced courses in analysis, counterpoint and orchestration.