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Performer-Composer Requirements

General Portfolio Guidelines

CalArts uses an online portfolio submission system. The online system accepts MP3's, documents, images and video. Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission of your portfolio. There is a fee for each portfolio submission you make through the online system. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program. If you experience technical difficulties while uploading your portfolio, you can send an e-mail to support@slideroom.com for technical support.


Applicants to the BFA and MFA Performer-Composer Programs should follow all guidelines for both the Composition Program and the Programs in Performance. The minimum of three works demonstrating your performance abilities should include at least one substantial piece chosen from traditional repertoire and at least two original compositions. The original works should also demonstrate how you integrate your performing and composing skills. Live auditions are encouraged when possible.

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

The application process for the DMA Performer-Composer Program consists of two sequential stages. Stage I comprises CalArts' standard application plus an online portfolio submission. Applicants selected to advance to Stage II will be notified in February and will be invited to the CalArts campus for an audition in March. Not all applicants will advance to Stage II.

Stage I: Portfolio Materials

  • A curriculum vitae
  • An artist’s statement describing your artistic practices, how you contextualize your work, and your overall artistic and professional goals. This should be no longer than 700 words and should incorporate a project proposal that describes what you would like to accomplish at CalArts, including topics of exploratory focus and proposed events/projects.
  • Documentation of at least three (but no more than five) works that represent your recent creative concerns and state of artistic development, in whatever media are most appropriate.
  • A sample of your analytical, theoretical, historical, philosophical, or critical writing that possesses a scholarly tone
  • If possible, you should upload a teaching portfolio incorporating representative instructional materials that you have used and a list of subject areas in which you would feel qualified to teach (including private lessons).
  • Three letters of reference addressing your potential for high artistic achievement as a performer-composer, aptitude for research, and promise as an educator (Letters of recommendation should be uploaded with your online application, not your online portfolio submission.)

Stage II: On-Campus Audition

Applicants who have advanced to this stage of the application process will be invited to visit CalArts’ campus during the month of March. Visiting applicants will participate in the following activities.

  • A performance, including substantial examples of the applicant’s original work as a performer-composer
  • A 20-minute teaching demonstration aimed at a sophomore (second-year undergraduate) audience and addressing a topic that does not represent the applicant's primary area of creative or scholarly research
  • An interview with the DMA Admissions Committee

The Office of Admissions will return your portfolio to you by mail only if you send a prepaid self-addressed package for return mailing. Be sure to complete and include any of the necessary forms required by your service provider. Prepaid mailing labels and packages from USPS, UPS, FedEx, FedEx Ground, and FedEx International are all acceptable. If necessary, your local post office will be able to provide you with an estimate for the return postage amount.

Learn more about the program, faculty, facilities and view and listen to student work.

Last edited by wgarciaencines on Aug 17, 2016
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