Composition Faculty

Jeffrey Means

Assistant Professor, Composition
jmeans@berklee.edu | 617 747-6257

"The technical situation in the classrooms is pretty remarkable. There’s not a live ensemble in most of the beginning classes that I teach, but there is a computer software program. The students tap along with the computer in a way that simulates performing on instruments, but it’s realistic enough that the student who’s conducting gets an experience that is relatively close to actual conducting without having the pressure of having a real ensemble there. And they can go on to conduct a live orchestra every week, which is not the case in a number of major conducting programs across the country. It’s really special. And the faculty is very strong, and they’re all active professionals. Berklee is really a very cool place to learn how to conduct."

George Monseur

Professor, Composition
gmonseur@berklee.edu | 617 747-8288
  • B.M., Arizona State University
  • M.M., New England Conservatory of Music
  • Conducting studies with Leopold Stokowsky, Leonard Bernstein, Leon Barzin, and Attilio Poto
  • Appearances with Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, National Radio/Television Orchestra of Athens, National Symphony of Costa Rica, and International Music Festival of Caracas

Carmen Moral

Professor, Composition
cmoral@berklee.edu | 617 747-8590

"A good conductor must be able to transmit with body language. In order to transmit, you need technique. You have to convey your intentions not with long speeches, but mainly with your gestures. I conducted an orchestra in China, and I do not speak Chinese. But I can communicate what I want, musically."

Francisco Noya

Assistant Professor, Composition
fnoya@berklee.edu | 617 747-2818

"In Conducting 211 and 212, I aim to show students what it takes to prepare a score for performance and give an overview of what conducting is all about. A production engineering student, for example, gets to see what it takes to conduct an orchestra or an ensemble in a recording session. Somebody's first job might be teaching general music in high school, and as part of their obligation they have to conduct a musical. You just never know which way your career is going to go. So it is one more tool we give our students."

Apostolos Paraskvas

Professor, Composition

"Most of my courses are in composition: traditional tonal harmony, counterpoint techniques of Johann Sebastian Bach, and contemporary techniques for composers, including guitar composers. Many people think we're just theorists in the composition department, but I'm an active performer. So if I'm talking to students about Bach's style of writing music, I'll start playing Bach on the guitar. And their eyes open wide because some of them have never heard guitar that sounds like this."

Tibor Pusztai

Associate Professor, Composition
tpusztai@berklee.edu | 617 747-8156

When one teaches, one is not teaching subjects, but people. The things that I teach—primarily conducting and composition—are pretty esoteric and have to do very much with the development of self-confidence in the student. I bring the kids out of themselves, so that they can explore their own inner poetry. My task is to make my students understand that conducting, for instance, is the synthesis of all the various things that we study, such as history and harmony, and that the conductor is the galvanizer of all of this information when interpreting a score and seeing what the vision of a composer is. It's essential to teach this even if the student never conducts at all. For a business major, for instance, or a drummer, it might not be of great utility from a technical perspective, but from a conceptual perspective, certainly, it's very important."

Armand Qualliotine

Professor, Composition

"Berklee is a really practical college. Most of the students come in and they know what they want, and so they're motivated to go after that particular field. It's a mission of the college to provide not just an abstract learning experience, but a practical learning experience as well. There is a success rate here. I've had students go to Tufts and Yale and all kinds of really high-end schools for graduate school. Or they graduate and they get a job in whatever field it is they're interested in."

Elena Roussanova Lucas

Associate Professor, Composition
elucas@berklee.edu | 617 747-3126

"When I was about four or five years old, growing up in the Soviet Union, I remember my parents listening to Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza in one room, and at the same time my older brother listening to Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago, and the Beatles in another room. [Laughs.] I really had this kind of double music world from the very beginning, but it was so natural to me. And I think this was a really great thing—it opened my ears to every type of music."

James Smith

Assistant Chair, Composition
jsmith3@berklee.edu | 617 747-8356

"The courses in our department give students the nuts and bolts that will give them a real leg up. When they walk out of Berklee, they can also do arranging, orchestration, transcription—a world of things to keep them in the business while they're still waiting for that one song that becomes the big one. The more tools they've got, the more ways they have of staying in the profession."

Eric Stern

Associate Professor, Composition
estern@berklee.edu | 617 747-6448

"In the classroom we try to explore leadership issues in conducting, as well as technical issues: the intangible qualities that allow an individual to convey his or her ideas to a group. Paramount are musical preparedness, physical practice, and expressive skills. We try to get everyone up on their feet every week, conducting me at the piano, as well as the NOTION playback software. It is particularly exciting when a student conductor takes a musical idea in a direction no one expected, choosing a different tempo or a different way of feeling a phrase. These moments bring together the elements of musicality and leadership with a satisfying clarity."

Louis Stewart

Professor, Composition
lstewart@berklee.edu | 617 747-8363

"The technique Attilio Poto taught me is what I teach my students. It is essentially Italian opera conducting, and it is not hard; a person with some musical background can learn enough in six weeks to conduct an ensemble. It's just a matter of learning to use gravity so that the beat is predictable and doesn't look choppy. I tell my students, 'If you come to class, retain what I teach you, and practice 10 to 15 minutes a day, seven days a week, you will learn the technique.'"

Valerie Taylor

Professor, Composition
vtaylor@berklee.edu | 617 747-8599

"Even if a person never conducts any kind of ensemble after this, the whole notion of getting music incorporated into the body is just so vital. It's gaining that sense of how your body conveys, and not just simply responds to, music. As a result of my vocal training, I try to get people to sing things, because that is the clearest and simplest road to incorporating the music into their own bodies. If they treat it gingerly at finger's length, their musical mojo is not going to be involved. If they sing while they conduct, they can use their body to teach their body."

Francine Trester

Professor, Composition
ftrester@berklee.edu | 617 747-2906

"When I teach, I connect concepts to real, live musical moments. I draw listening examples from a range of styles and encourage students to find their own examples and bring them into class. I incorporate my professional experience into the class through my own composition and performance on the violin and piano. By discovering your personal connection to a concept, you turn theory into practice—you make an abstraction come alive through your own musical experience."

Michael Weinstein

Assistant Professor, Composition
mweinstein@berklee.edu | 617 747-8203

"I really think it's important to link music theory with the practice of music. I'm actively playing as a hornist, and equally actively creating contemporary concert music as a composer. In the classroom we'll do a counterpoint assignment together on the board. I'll start by putting something up, then have everybody in the class contribute a measure or two, eventually leading up to writing a whole exercise. By the end, when I play what we've written out of thin air on the piano, there's a real feeling of accomplishment."

Julius Williams

Professor, Composition
jwilliams@berklee.edu | 617 747-8286

"Here at Berklee, we have one of the strongest Composition departments in the country. We've got over 37 composers on the faculty, and really 118 composers in the whole Writing Division. No other place has this many people who write music in one area. The attitude around here is laid back, but serious at the same time, because most of the composers are very active, writing everything from performance works to film scores. And that's what makes Berklee different. It's a very exciting, creative atmosphere."

Clyde Witmyer

Associate Professor, Composition
cwitmyer@berklee.edu | 617 747-8225

"As I reflect on my own educational experiences, the most important realization I came to as a student is that I am responsible for my education more so than my teachers, my school, my parents, or society. I learned that being a student is a proactive experience and that you only get out of it as much as you are willing to put in. Students who are proactive regarding their education will not only gain the respect of their teachers but their teachers will be more willing to go that 'extra mile' for them. Ultimately, your educational experience will be much more rewarding."

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