BM - Emphasis in Music Composition

In addition to core courses required of all Bachelor of Music students, Composition majors enroll in a five semester sequence of lessons (small group and private), as well as two semesters of Computer Composition. Related coursework required of Composition majors includes Orchestration, Counterpoint, and Form and Analysis. Throughout this course of study students create a portfolio of work demonstrating competency in a variety of instrumentation, genres, and forms. Composition students draw upon a deep pool of talented performers at UTA affording them an opportunity to hear and record their work. A Theory/Composition Lab is appointed with notation, recording and interactive computer software and relevant hardware. Composition majors present a recital of original work toward the end of their studies.


Dr. Elyse Kahler, D.M.A. from Texas Tech University (Music Composition)

Department of Music

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Area: Music Composition

Elyse Kahler


Office: FA 307

Bio: Elyse Kahler is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Kahler writes for a variety of ensembles and levels, and has particular interests in fun and engaging music for middle school students and inspiring music for the modern church. Recent projects include a commission from the Lubbock Chorale (Parallax) with text by Allison Boye, Height Difference Duo (The Hobbit and the Elf), Freedom to Be for The Phoenix Project, From the Ashes, and Perspectives, a chamber work with dance and film in collaboration with Anne Wharton. Dr. Kahler is also passionate about music composition pedagogy and is currently researching methods to discuss the creative process with composition students. During the summers, Dr. Kahler teaches music theory at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, MI. For more information, please visit

Dr. Graham Hunt, Ph.D. Duke University

Department of Music

Associate Chair, Professor, Music Theory and Composition Area Coordinator

Area: Music Theory and Composition

Graham Hunt


Phone #: 817-272-2446

Office: FA 304

Bio: Graham Hunt is Professor of Musicology and Music Theory at the University of Texas at Arlington. He received his Ph.D. in Musicology from Duke University. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in music theory journals, including 2 articles in the most pre-eminent journal in the field of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum. He has also presented 5 times at the national meeting of the Society of Music Theory. He served as President of the Texas Society Music Theory from 2011-2014. He has given the keynote speech for the Oklahoma City University Theory Conference and has been a guest speaker at the Music Theory Lecture Series at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Texas at Austin. He has published on subjects such as Wagner, Neo-Riemannian analysis, the Three-Key Exposition in Sonata forms, and, most recently, problematic rondo forms in Classical and 19th-Century finales, in journals such as Journal for Schenkerian Studies, Integral, Theory and Practice, 19th-Century Music Review, and Music Theory Spectrum. He was also selected to be the Grace and Joseph Valentine Visiting Professor at Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 2009. His latest research applies the groundbreaking theories of William Caplin, "Formal-Function Analysis," which was derived from the theories of Arnold Schoenberg to examine formal ambiguities that have previous defied traditional analytical interpretations, such as three-key expositions, truncated rondo forms, and opera arias, duets, and ensembles. Most recently, he was been invited to contribute a chapter to "Mozart Operas", a volume published by Leuven press, on Sonata forms in Mozart's operas, published an article in Music Analysis (published in the UK) on "Diverging Subordinate Themes" in sonata forms ranging from Scarlatti to Bruckner, and contributed a chapter to “Wagner studies” on formal functions of leitmotivs in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. This November, he will present a paper on “Lesser, Redundant and Inconvenient Rondo Forms” at the national Society for Music Theory, which will be held virtually.

Dan Cavanagh, M.M. University of Oregon

Department of Music

Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Professor of Music

Area: Jazz, Composition

Dan Cavanagh


Office: UH 210

Bio: Dan Cavanagh is a composer and pianist who has garnered numerous awards in both areas. He received a 2009 gold medal prize from the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition for his work for trumpet and piano, from the barrage comes clarity. In 2017 he was awarded a Special Judges’ Citation in the American Prize for Chamber Music Composition for his work for trumpet ensemble and drumset, Waves. As a composer Cavanagh has been commissioned to write for Latin Grammy-winning AfroBop Alliance, the legendary Patti LaBelle, and a wide range of classical and jazz performers across North America and Europe. His work Reach for violin and double bass can be heard on the upcoming album, The Diaries of Adam and Eve, by violinist Martha Walvoord and bassist Jack Unzicker, due out on Albany Records on November 1, 2019. He has released four jazz CDs as a leader, including Pulse and Heart of the Geyser on Seattle’s OA2 Records, and two recordings with Minnesota-based vibraphonist Dave Hagedorn, Horizon and 20 Years. His music can be heard on many other recordings both classical and jazz. His film scoring work can be heard in the documentary The Beat Hotel, a film exploring the hotel in Paris in the late 1950s and early 1960s where the beat poets, led by Allen Ginsberg, lived and created much of their famous work. Cavanagh continues to be commissioned and programmed around the world. Cavanagh’s compositions for jazz big band are published by UNC Jazz Press, Sierra Music Publications, and E-Jazz Lines (formerly Walrus Music Publishing). Cavanagh has performed extensively in North America and Europe as a jazz pianist, and has also performed in Asia and Central America. He has appeared in concert with Grammy-winners Irma Thomas, Adonis Rose, and Joe McCarthy. He has been a finalist in the EuropaFest Jazz Contest in Bucharest, Romania, and in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition. As the Executive Producer of UT Arlington Records, he spearheads a record label that involves students and faculty in all aspects of production and management of a recording project, from conception to release. He serves as the Co-Chair of Region VI for the Society of Composers, Inc., an international organization dedicated to new and contemporary music and composers. From 2018-2020 Cavanagh served as Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is now the Interim Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts.

Tatiana Mayfield, M.M. Jazz Composition, The University of Texas at Arlington

Department of Music

Adjunct Professor

Area: Commercial Voice

Tatiana Mayfield

Bio: Refreshing and beautiful are how many have described the voice and persona of Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield, a jazz vocalist, musician, composer, and educator from Fort Worth, Texas. “LadyMay” (as she has been named) has been singing and playing jazz music since the tender age of thirteen. Since then, she has performed in various venues and festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad, which in turn have earned her rave reviews from listeners and musicians in addition to numerous awards. In 2017, “LadyMay” was awarded 2nd place in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocals Competition held at NJPAC in New Jersey. In that same year, she received the “Jazz Innovators Award” from Dallas, TX as part of Jazz Appreciation Month for her contributions to jazz education for young people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Mayfield was also chosen as one of the twelve semi-finalists to compete in the prestigious 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition that was held in Washington, D.C before a legendary panel of judges. In the summer of 2019, the city of Fort Worth awarded her with a “Legend In The Making” award at their annual “Dr. Marion J. Brooks Living Legends Awards” for her accomplishments in entertainment and education. In addition to several other awards, she is also a 2006 YoungArts winner for Jazz Voice. She has also appeared on Dallas/Ft. Worth’s news television show WFAA “Good Morning Texas” four times since 2011. Mayfield has opened for several well-known artists such as Kirk Whalum, Will Downing, Randy Brecker, Dave Valentin, Bobbi Humphrey, and The Main Ingredient. LadyMay has also performed in 3 concerts between 2016-2018 with the legendary Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The first concert was a tribute celebrating African-American women in music entitled “I’m Every Woman”, then again for their Independence Day “Patriotic Pops: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the USO”, and as of late in the “Classical Roots: Under One Roof” concert honoring the diverse history of the historic Music Hall where they perform. Mayfield has also performed with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina in the spring of 2018. “LadyMay” has recorded three albums, From All Directions (2009), A Portrait Of LadyMay (2012), and The Next Chapter (2018). The first album From All Directions was recorded while she was still attending the University of North Texas, where she received a B.M. in Jazz Studies. Jazz journalist Scott Yanow described her voice on her debut album From All Directions (2009) as “attractive” with “excellent elocution” and a “joyful spirit”. On her sophomore album A Portrait Of LadyMay (2012), Harvey Siders, former writer of JazzTimes and Downbeat magazines, describes her intonation as “flawless” and her scatting “as natural as breathing.” In addition to her vocal skills, she plays piano, trombone, composes, and teaches voice and music theory. In May of 2017, she was awarded 3rd place in the “Performance” category of the International Songwriting Competition for her original song “Forgive Me Someday” from her latest album The Next Chapter. LadyMay’s appeal has also reached listeners abroad in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, Nigeria, and Brazil. Her music has been featured on several international radio stations such as “Mi-Soul Radio”,“Solar Radio”, “Jazz FM”, “Tropical FM”, and “Premier Gospel Radio” in the UK, “RJM Radio” in France, and “Smooth 98.1” in Nigeria. In November 2012, her song “Real” from A Portrait Of LadyMay reached #1 on the “UK Soul Chart”. In July of 2013, she completed her first tour (LadyMay In The UK) to London where she was widely received on radio appearances, as well as at some of their top performance venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express in Soho, and the Flyover Portobello. UK based record store “Soul Brother Records” labeled “A Portrait Of LadyMay” as one of their “Best New Jazz Releases of 2013”. In 2020, she was featured in a Dallas Morning News article about her experiences as artist and educator. In addition, she contributed an article to the ISJAC (International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers) about her experience as a black woman composer and performer, earning a master’s degree during a pandemic, and being the first African American person to receive a master’s degree in Jazz Composition at the University of Texas at Arlington. As an educator, Mayfield is an adjunct professor of commercial voice at Dallas College-Cedar Valley Campus in Lancaster, TX and has previously taught jazz voice for the University Of North Texas in Denton, Texas. In 2019, she taught in Zhuhai, China for the Golden Jazz Henquin Jazz Week and performed in the “Crossing Music and New Generation Jazz Festival”. Mayfield recently received a master’s degree in Jazz Composition from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). For more information on Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield, visit