M.F.A. in Music Direction | Intro

Broadway Veteran Zachary Dietz joins the UCI Drama Faculty as Head of Music Direction.

The UC Irvine Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Music Direction prepares artists for a professional career in the performing arts. This one of a kind, interdisciplinary program is housed within the Department of Drama at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts in beautiful Southern California.

Students work with faculty members as well as industry professionals, receiving instruction and mentoring focused on:

a) Composition, Orchestration and Arranging

b) Conducting

c) Script and Score Analysis

d) Vocal Pedagogy and Coaching

e) Music Production and Sound Design

Students also gain valuable first-hand experience through internships, which most recently have included the Sacramento Music Circus and South Coast Repertory Theater.

Typically, applicants already have experience in aspects of music direction for music theatre and are looking to refine and improve their knowledge base and experience in conducting, musical preparation of singers, rehearsal techniques, vocal coaching, composing, arranging, and producing.  Excellent keyboard skills (including sight-reading, transposition, and improvisation), basic orchestra score-reading and conducting skills, and an understanding and passion for music theatre as a genre are expected of applicants.

This three-year residency provides a rich, authentic collaboration with MFA Drama students, whose focus may include acting, stage direction, design, stage management, and dramaturgy, developing artistic teams to create both large and small works for the stage. Students gain experience as music directors, lyricists, and composers, while being closely mentored by the department’s Music Theatre and associated faculty. Serving as Music Director for a main stage production and composing for the stage serve as the basis of candidates' thesis projects.

In addition to on-campus study, MFA candidates serve as Music Directors of the month-long New York Satellite Program in Music Theatre, which includes the NYSP Presents new works series. Candidates also accompany classes taught by New York casting directors, choreographers, and directors.

Program Learning Outcome information for the M.F.A. program can be found here

Core Faculty:

Zachary Dietz
Head of Music Direction
Graduate Advisor for Music Direction
Music Direction, Conducting, History of American Musical Theatre, Script & Score

Myrona DeLaney
Head of Music Theatre
Musical Scene Study, Musicals Abridged, NY Satellite Program

Robin Buck
Music Theatre Singing
Singing Pedagogy, University Teaching

Andrew Palermo
Stage Director/Choreographer
Theatrical Creation

Associated Faculty:

Juliette Carrillo: Theatrical Creation

Don Hill: The Business of Show Business

Michael Hooker: Sound Design

Vincent Olivieri: Sound Design

Jane Page: Script Analysis

Joel Veenstra: Genres and Theatre Making


For more information, please contact Professor Zachary Dietz, Graduate Advisor for Music Direction, at zdietz@uci.edu