The SF State Composition Studio envisions a world of art without boundaries or borders. We recognize that music—whether intended for a game, the screen or the concert hall—has the same basis in invention and creativity.

A successful composer must not only develop skills in theory and musicianship but must cultivate a fertile creative soil through a broad liberal arts education. Our rigorous music curriculum paired with the university’s general education program and rich cross-disciplinary, collaborative opportunities makes the composition program at SF State a uniquely powerful educational resource.

Prepare for your future with a curriculum that is geared toward the state of the art and explore new and exciting career opportunities available to the 21st century musician. You will get an opportunity to build your portfolio and demo reels with expert mentors, world-class performers and the latest in recording technology. The School also offer chances to collaborate across campus with student filmmakers, game designers, performers, engineers, poets, dancers and animators.

Concert Music and Experimentation

Our faculty are among the leading voices in contemporary concert and experimental electronic music and are regularly commissioned and performed by top new music ensembles. The School of Music hosts some of these leading ensembles for residencies every year. Past artists include JACK Quartet, Splinter Reeds, Loadbang, Mivos Quartet and many others. This program provides Composition students with the unique opportunity of writing for and collaborating with these world class musicians. 

The School of Music also has a partnership with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP). Each year our students have a chance to write for members of this top-notch local ensemble and one student is selected, on a competitive basis, for a year-long paid production associate position with SFCMP.

Students pursuing a B.A. or a B.Mus degree can focus on the following areas of study:

Composition students with music stands in studio

Take a look inside the Composition Studio.

The Studio

Our composition, game and film scoring students have access to state of the art equipment and a contemporary studio space. The newly renovated Electronic Music Studio (aka Egret Studio) features Focal Twin6 monitors, Dynaudio 8.1 surround, the latest from Abelton, Logic, Max and Unity, a Moog Sub 37, a collection of Euro-rack modules and a vintage Serge synth as well as an 80 inch HD TV. All of this is housed in an acoustically treated space complete with red couch and shag carpet!

Electronic music studio on campus

Your Mentors

Steven Horowitz

Steven Horowitz

Steven Horowitz is best known for his original score to the Academy Award nominated film Super Size Me. Active in the Bay Area as a composer, bass player and teacher. Steve is also a Grammy winning engineer and the Webby and Kid Screen Award winning audio director for Nickelodeon Digital where he has worked on hundreds of popular games. The artist behind twenty-six albums of original music, Horowitz has received performance underwriting and commissions from various groups such as Meet the Composer, the Lab SF, The Kitchen NYC, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Music at the Anthology (MATA, executive producer Phillip Glass), The Astoria Symphony, Flux String Quartet, and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Steve received his B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Morton Subotnick, Mel Powell and Michael Jon Fink. Email:

Benjamin Sabey

Benjamin Sabey

Benjamin Sabey’s experimental electronic, chamber and orchestral music has been described by Gramophone as revealing, “a brilliant technique and a keen ear for sound, timbre and arc.” Recent awards include two Barlow Commissions for the Mivos Quartet and the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart as well as the Royaumont Prize of Domaine Forget in Paris. He has recently been a featured composer at the Ultraschall festival in Berlin and the SoundOn and NWEAMO festivals in San Diego. Sabey holds a Ph.D. from the UC San Diego where he studied primarily with Roger Reynolds. Email:

Headshot of a smiling man with short, sandy hair and stubble. He is wearing a collared shirt and dark pullover.

John Daniel Clay

Danny Clay is a composer and teaching artist whose work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things with people of all ages and levels of artistic experience. ​Working closely with artists, students, and community members alike, he builds worlds of inquiry, play, and perpetual discovery that integrate elements of sound, movement, theater, and visual design. Games, speculative systems, cognitive puzzles, invented notation, found objects, imaginary archives, repurposed media, micro-improvisations, and happy accidents all make frequent appearances in his work.​ As an educator, he recently designed and implemented a seven-week program for 180 third graders in collaboration with Kronos Quartet, and has taught music composition classes at Stanford University and San Francisco State University. As a facilitator specializing in using games for musical education and creativity, he has led workshops for all ages at K-12 schools and university programs throughout the United States.Email:

Michael Gilbertson

Michael Gilbertson

The music of composer Michael Gilbertson have been described as “elegant” and “particularly beautiful” by The New York Times; “vivid, tightly woven” and “delectably subtle” by the Baltimore Sun; “genuinely moving” by the Washington Post and “a compelling fusion of new and ancient” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gilbertson was one of three finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music, losing to rapper Kendrick Lamar. Dr. Gilbertson holds degrees from the Juilliard School and Yale University. Gilbertson’s works have been performed by orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Opera, Albany Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, wind ensembles including The United States Marine Band, and Grammy-nominated choirs including Musica Sacra, the Crossing and Conspirare. Dr. Gilbertson is the founder and artistic director of ChamberFest Dubuque — an annual festival that raises money for music education. Dr. Gilbertson’s published music includes works with Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, and Theodore Presser. In March 2016, Gilbertson was MusicalAmerica Magazine’s featured Artist of the Month. Email:

Jonathan Kornfeld

Jonathan Kornfeld

Jono Kornfeld, M.A. in Music Composition, has studied composition with Ronald Caltabiano, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and Richard Festinger at San Francisco State University, and with Michael Czajkowski at the 2001 Aspen Music Festival. He studied jazz and classical piano with Adam Domash. He is the author of “Music Theory and Notation for Intelligent Beginners,” and performs in the jazz/funk group Hop Sauce. Email: