D.M.A. Program

Where new sounds and ideas are brought to life.

The Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) program is highly competitive, admitting only one new student each year to study with performers on the professorial faculty. Started in 1985 by Professor Emeritus Malcolm Bilson as a doctoral program in 18th-century Performance Practice with an illustrious history of graduates, the program now embraces performance practices of all ages. More about the program requirements may be found here .

The D.M.A. performers who focus on performance practice issues  work with some of the most acclaimed musicologists and ensembles, and have collaborated with the students in Cornell’s highly esteemed composition department, with countless works premiered and honored with acclaim as a result.. Alumni have been participants at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and the Lucerne Festival Academy, and have gone on to pursue adventurous careers.

In addition to their studies, they have presented festivals of their own, and have written dissertations that have pushed forward the area of contemporary performance practice. Each year, these students perform the most ambitious programs and serve as the piano Teaching Assistant, helping guide the studio by example in bi-weekly repertoire classes.

Photo of two pianists rehearsing at two pianos. Each is holding a mallet midair about to strike a woodblock on the piano desk.


Photo of male pianist with hair in bun mid-performance concentration

Photo of two people on a stage full of gear: a harpischord in front, speakers, mic stands, a toy piano, and a grand piano in the back.


Past and present participants in the D.M.A. program

Andrew Zhou : andrew-zhou.com

Dissertation: Godlike Recompense?: Lives, Bodies, and Erasures in the Piano Etudes of Hans Abrahamsen, Unsuk Chin, and Pascal Dusapin

David Friend: davidfriendpiano.net

Dissertation: Fingers Glittering Above the Keyboard: The Keyboard Works and Hybrid Creative Practices of Tristan Perich.

Shin Hwang: click for bio

Dissertation: Reconstructing Clara Schumann’s Pedagogy: Illumination through Understanding 

Ryan MacEvoy McCullough: ryanmmccullough.com

Dissertation [in progress]: Towards a “Paradise Garden”: Aesthetics, Performance Practice and Organology in Jonathan Harvey’s Bird Concerto with Pianosong

Richard Valitutto: richardvalitutto.net

Cheryl Tan: twitter: @cheryltanwm

Thomas Feng: thomasfengmusic.com



 Listen to and view selected highlights from past performances, festivals, and projects by the D.M.A. participants.