Composition and Theory

About the UNLV Composition Division

The UNLV Composition Division is devoted to teaching students who wish to pursue a professional and/or academic career in music composition of any style. Whether it be concert music, cross genre, eclectic, commercial, dance, multimedia or film, our goal is to help students learn to write the music that inspires and interests them and encourage them to foster collaborations with musicians and artists beyond graduation.

What we offer:

Our diverse, award-winning composition faculty offers a wide variety of tools to encourage students to develop their compositional voice, and write music that not only inspires them, but motivates them to collaborate with musicians and artists including dancers, film makers and visual artists.

Performance Opportunities

UNLV Nextet Concerts and Artist Residencies

Each year, the UNLV Composition Division features professional, internationally-renowned composers, musicians and artists on the contemporary music concert series Nextet. 

Currently directed by composer Jennifer Bellor, the Nextet new music series highlights performances of contemporary classical and crossover music composed within the last ten to fifteen years. Distinguished student and faculty performers and composers are featured on the series, along with Nextet guest composers and artists who are in residence.

Past guest composers have included Samuel Adler, Paul Chihara, Richard Danielpour, Carlos Sanchez Gutierrez, John Harbison, Michael Hersch, Libby Larsen, Marc Mellits, Marc Neikrug, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds, Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, and Chen Yi,  among others. Visiting composers work directly with students; giving seminar presentations, masterclasses, and individual private lessons.

Guest performers and ensembles have also been invited to work directly with the students by giving workshops and reading sessions — among them stand Alan Theisen & Megan Ihnen Present, the Hocket piano duo, Amernet Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Fireworks Ensemble, soprano Lucy Shelton, mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, Transient Canvas, saxophonist Rhonda Taylor, and several others.

Students who enroll in Nextet (MUSE 495/595) not only have the opportunity to perform new music on the series, but also to work with Dr. Jennifer Bellor behind the scenes to produce the series and to build the skills necessary for concert production and collaboration. Roles include but are not limited to: social media coordinator, video editor, community outreach, podcast host personality, and other music business-related positions.

Any students majoring in marketing and communications who may want to focus on the music business side of Nextet are invited to join.

UNLV Student Composers Concerts

Student Composers Concerts feature student compositions and unique collaborations that have included music with art at the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum; music with film; music to poetry, featuring UNLV faculty poet Dr. Eryn Green; music with improvisation featuring the UNLV Contemporary Jazz Ensemble; and collaboration with the UNLV Music Technology Division, as well as several other collaborative opportunities. There are approximately two composer concerts each semester to give the students an opportunity to have their music performed either in a live or in a virtual environment.

Ensemble Readings for Composers

The composers have opportunities to write large ensemble pieces (orchestra, wind ensemble, chorus) for the annual reading by the UNLV Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra and Chamber Chorale. Additionally, they have an opportunity to write music for readings by any professional ensemble that is in residence with the composition division.

UNLV Student Composers’ Collective

The Composers’ Collective is a student-run organization focused on inspiring students from any musical background here at UNLV to compose and/or perform new music. One particular highlight of this organization is that a student does NOT have to be enrolled in the classical music composition division program in order to compose a piece for a concert; All students from any division of the UNLV School of Music is encouraged to participate. Each semester, the Collective schedules a 48-Hour Concert: Each composer involved has 24 hours to compose a piece with an assigned instrumentation. Then, each performer has 24 hours to learn the piece prior to the performance. Please visit their FB page for more information.

As a major in music composition, students will:

  • Take private lessons in both composition and the area of performance concentration.
  • Produce creative work for different media and get hands-on experience in the professional field of new music.
  • Perform a solo recital (30 minutes) in the junior year.
  • Present a recital of original compositions (40 minutes) in the senior year.
  • Participate in readings of new works by professional chamber groups, as well as the UNLV Wind Orchestra, the UNLV Symphonic Orchestra, and the UNLV Chamber Chorale.
  • Attend lectures, masterclasses, and composition lessons with guest artists and composers in residence

Our Faculty

The members of the School of Music’s composition faculty are active artists who regularly have commissions, premieres, performances, recordings and publications of their work in the United States and abroad.

Jennifer Bellor, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Composition

Office: HFA 218
Phone: 702-895-3073

Julie Ivy

Adjunct Faculty, Theory

Phone: 702-234-7071

Jocelyn Jensen, Ed.D.

Adjunct Faculty, Theory

Jocelyn Jensen
Office: HFA 135
Phone: 702-895-3008

Kevin Ure, M.M.

Adjunct Faculty, Theory

Photo of Kevin Ure

Diego Vega, D.M.A.

Associate Professor, Composition

Office: HFA 233
Phone: 702-895-5040


For further information, please contact Diego Vega, or Jennifer Bellor.

Social Media

UNLV Composition

UNLV Nextet