Graduate Programs

Orchestral and Opera Conducting

The University of Arizona, School of Music

Thomas Cockrell


András Derecskei (Budapest, Hungary) and Juan Montoya (Medellín, Colombia) will begin DMA studies Fall 2015.  No openings are anticipated in the conducting studio until Fall 2017.

List of recent graduates of the UA graduate program in Orchestral and Opera Conducting.

Performance opportunities   The breadth and abundance of performance opportunities at the University of Arizona are unparalleled for its MM and DMA students of orchestral conducting.  The studio size is limited to 2-3 students and frequent conducting assignments are made on a rotating basis with various ensembles, assuring a breadth of experience.

UA Philharmonic 
The graduate conductors share the conducting and administrative duties of the UA Philharmonic Orchestra. "The Phil" is the School’s university orchestra, a mixture of music majors, minors and non majors. The Philharmonic rehearses four hours each week and presents two concerts each semester. Recent works performed by graduate students include Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Schumann Symphony No. 4, Schubert' s "Unfinished" Symphony and excerpts from Bizet’s CarmenRecent repertoire

Arizona Symphony Orchestra  Conducting students have both reading and performance opportunities with the School of Music’s top orchestra while serving as assistant conductors. Students accompany student competition winners on the annual President’s Concert each February. Each year the Symphony splits into opera and chamber ensembles, providing additional opportunities for performance or to workshop a work such as Copland Appalachian Spring chamber version. Recent student performances include Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, Chávez Sinfonia India and Saint-Saëns Danse Bacchanale.

Arizona Opera Theater   DMA students often serve as the assistant conductor for the two annual UA Opera Theater productions.  They conduct musical and staging rehearsals sometimes culminating in conducting a performance. There are additional opportunities to serve as music director, coach, and conductor of opera scenes programs each semester. Recent student conductor performances include Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata, Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, The Consul, and Albert Herring

More  There are other possibilities to conduct on or off campus, such as choral, contemporary and ad hoc ensembles. In recent years orchestral conducting majors have musical theater productions in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, including Into the Woods, Candide, Carousel, and Oklahoma!

Advanced conducting training  

Private Lessons  Regular one-on-one lessons cover a variety of aspects related to conducting:  technique, analysis, rehearsal techniques, etc. Frequent analysis of student video recordings is encouraged.

Seminar   Students and Dr. Cockrell meet regularly for sessions addressing a variety of pertinent subjects: score analysis, study and memorization skills, instrumentation, personal and time management, performance practice, programing, public speaking and presentation skills, etc. 

Recording  The School of Music boasts a fine recording studio and a superb audio engineer. Students will have opportunities to study all aspects of audio production from microphone placement and recording through mastering and final production of a CD.

Supplementary studies  The full resources of the School of Music and The University of Arizona are available to conducting students.  They will be encouraged to strengthen their knowledge of the operatic languages of Italian, German and French.

Application procedure:   NOTE:  no applications will be accepted 2015-16.

  • In advance of submitting your completed application please email Dr. Cockrell and attach a current résumé and a repertoire list noting works performed, works conducted in rehearsal, works studied.  Include links to YouTube uploads of selections of your work.  Brief, targeted selections are best.
  • See to apply to both the UA School of Music and Graduate College. 
  • As part of your application please submit a DVD in which you conduct 2-3 contrasting works, including some rehearsal.  The DVD should be of no more than 25 minutes in length.
  • The deadline for priority consideration of applications and supplementary materials is will be January 10, 2015.
  • A small number of highly qualified applicants will be invited to audition and interview in Tucson in February 2015, dates TBA.

See for detailed information about the UA conducting and orchestral programs.


Thomas Cockrell

Director of Orchestral Activities

Nelson Riddle Endowed Chair in Music
The University of Arizona School of Music
P.O. Box 210004
Tucson, AZ  85721-0004



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