UCSB Department of Music and College of Creative Studies welcome Dr. Sarah Gibson as Teaching Professor in Composition

September 17, 2019

Composer and pianist Sarah Gibson joins UC Santa Barbara Department of Music and College of Creative Studies Faculty

Originally posted by the Department of Music

Sarah Gibson
Sarah Gibson

The UC Santa Barbara Department of Music and College of Creative Studies have appointed Dr. Sarah Gibson as Teaching Professor in Composition beginning Fall of 2019. An accomplished composer and pianist, Dr. Gibson comes to UC Santa Barbara with extensive teaching experience as a Lecturer in Composition, Theory and Analysis at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, through a partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program (2014-present), and at the Colburn School (2018-19), where she taught classes in music theory. As a composer and pianist, she has collaborated with organizations and ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and has been recognized by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as “a serious talent to watch.”

Dr. Bruce Tiffney, Interim Dean of the UCSB College of Creative Studies, shared that “the College is delighted that Dr. Sarah Gibson will be joining our faculty. Her dedication to creating and championing new music, particularly through her co-leadership of HOCKET, will make her an outstanding role model for aspiring young composers. Further, her association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other institutions will introduce our students to the rich musical resources of Southern California, and she has a remarkable reputation as a teacher, guaranteeing that our students will grow in her care and tutelage.”  

"The Department of Music is thrilled to welcome Dr. Sarah Gibson to our faculty and we are truly excited by the innovative experience she will bring to this position,” noted Robert Koenig, Chair of the Department of Music. “Her background and support of new musical compositions, along with her dedication to teaching young aspiring composers has already established her as a musical phenomenon in Southern California and beyond. As an active performer, she brings the highest level of commitment to our music programs at UCSB and our students are certain to flourish under her careful guidance."

In her new position at UC Santa Barbara, which will be split between both the Department of Music and the College of Creative Studies, Dr. Gibson will teach courses in composition, music theory, and orchestration, along with chamber music and various other performance related classes. “I'm elated to join the stellar UCSB faculty and teach Composition in the Music Department and the College of Creative Studies,” said Dr. Gibson. “This unique position allows me to work closely with creatively energized students and faculty with passionate and inspiring ideas. UCSB has a long history of being at the forefront of modern music and I am thrilled and humbled to be a part of that legacy.”

As a composer, Dr. Gibson has received commissions and performances from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Chamber Music America, among others. Her works have received honors and recognitions such as the Victor Herbert ASCAP Award, American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, National Federation of Music Clubs Marion Richter American Music Composition Award, and first place in the Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest. Her Left-hand Piano Concerto was selected as a winner of the University of Southern California’s New Music for Orchestra competition and was premiered with Dr. Gibson at the keyboard. Previously the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Sound Investment Composer, she currently serves as Associate Artistic Director of the HEAR NOW Music Festival of Los Angeles Composers. She also works alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman as the Lead-Teaching Artist for the esteemed Nancy and Barry Sanders Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program, which provides exceptional high school students the opportunity to train with renowned composition faculty and have their works performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians. 

In addition to her extensive composition career, Dr. Gibson maintains an active performance schedule. As co-founder of the new music piano duo HOCKET, she has performed with pianist Thomas Kotcheff across the US at festivals and venues such as the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, Music at the Anthology’s (MATA) Festival in New York City, Center for New Music in San Francisco, Carlsbad Music Festival, Other Minds Festival, Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Noon to Midnight festival. Hailed as "brilliant" by Mark Swed of the LA Times and as an "adventurous young ensemble" by The New Yorker, the duo has premiered over one hundred chamber and solo works and has collaborated with some of today’s most prestigious new music ensembles such as Eighth Blackbird and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. HOCKET has held residencies at Avaloch Farm Music Institute and received grants from the Earle Brown Music Foundation and the Presser Foundation. 

Dr. Gibson earned a Bachelor of Music with High Honors in Composition and Piano Performance from Indiana University (2008), as well as a master’s degree in Composition (2010) and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition with minors in Music Theory, Instrumental Conducting, and Keyboard Collaborative Arts (2015) from the University of Southern California.



Adriane Hill

Marketing and Communications Manager

UC Santa Barbara Department of Music

(805) 893-3230




Christin Palmstrom

Communications and Development Associate

UC Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies

(805) 893-2035