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Su Lian Tan

Fletcher Professor of the Arts

 work(802) 443-5224
 Mahaney Arts Center 304

Su Lian Tan
is a much sought after flutist and composer. Her music has been described as “the stunner of the evening,” (Washington Post) and “…music that demands to be heard….masterpiece..” (Fanfare Magazine). Making her first recordings at the age of 14, she has also been featured in Flute Talk and American Record Guide. Tan has been commissioned by groups such as the Grammy-winning Takacs String Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Players, and the Vermont Symphony. Recordings of her music include a recent release, Grand Theft and other Felonies, which features Carol Wincenc performing Autumn Lute Song and Tan as a flutist. Another recent release Revelations also on the ARSIS label has been received with great acclaim and is performed by the Jupiter String Quartet and Bruce Brubaker. Lotus Lives her intermedia chamber opera was performed and received similar praise. New commissions include Legends of Kintamani a concerto for Darrett Adkins, cellist (recording Oberlin/Naxos) and a piccolo concerto for Nicola Mazzanti. Her music is published by ECS Publishing and Theodore Presser.

Also a dedicated teacher, Tan is Professor of Music at Middlebury College where she continues to be a mentor to talented young musicians. She has given seminars and master-classes at Oberlin College, Boston University, and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore, to name a few. She has received numerous accolades and citations for teaching as well as for her music, including awards from ASCAP, The Academy of Arts and Letters of Quebec, and the Toulmin and Naumburg Foundations and was awarded several residencies from the Yaddo and MacDowell  colonies. She holds degrees from the Trinity College, London (F.T.C.L.),Bennington College (B.A.), The Juilliard School (M.M.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.).



Trumpet virtuoso Joe Burgstaller performed the world premier of Ming (Brush Strokes), by Su Lian Tan, on 27 October 2012 at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Singapore .


The Straits Times, Singapore 28 Oct 2012

".... A highlight was the world premiere of Malaysian-American composer Su Lian Tan's Ming, an evocation of Chinese brush-painted landscapes, its placid waters, gnarled trees, rugged mountains and soaring birds. Partnered by pianist Low Shao Suan, this atmospheric score ambled from impressionistic half-lights to a Messiaen-like timeless calm. Burgstaller's part used the mute liberally, to temper the bluesy timbre before going full voice on a song."


"Flute Talk Magazine," October, 2010

“Particularly alluring…began in an angular Western style with a balance of vehemence and serenity” The New York Times

“The stunner of the evening was Su Lian Tan’s Life In Wayang”… The Washington Post

“…a crystal-like evocation of autumn…began in a serene meditation…filling a whole sky with the memory of creation….” The Rutland Gazette




Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

MUSC 0160 - Music Theory I: Fundamentals      

Music Theory I: Fundamentals
This course is an introduction to the basic elements and theoretical concepts of Western music. We will focus on such topics as basic keyboard skills, sight singing, musical notation, rhythm, and harmony and form. Theoretical work and drills will be combined with compositional and performance projects. The goal of the course is to expand students’ musical intuition and skill and to provide the technical basis for further music study. No prior musical experience is required. (Students who wish to take upper-level composition or music theory courses must either complete this course or pass a theory and musicianship test administered by the department to demonstrate equivalent experience.) (Formerly MUSC 0109). 2.5 hrs. lect. ART

Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

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MUSC 0209 - Composition I      

Music I
Music I focuses on the materials and grammar of music through compositional exercises. As part of these explorations, we will examine the elements of harmony (scales, triads and seventh chords), notation, rhythm, polyrhythm, binary and ternary forms, two-voice counterpoint, variation, transposition, as well as skills in conducting, analysis, ear-training, and sight-singing. Students will write short pieces for a variety of instruments and ensembles, notate their pieces, and rehearse and perform them, thereby learning about music through discovery and observation. The assignments are designed for students with or without compositional experience. (Ability to play an instrument or sing; MUSC 0160, or passing score on the MUSC 0160 placement exam) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. lab. ART

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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MUSC 0210 - Composition II      

Music II
This course is a continuation of MUSC 0209. While using the same format, including composing and labs, as in MUSC 0209, the course covers elements of modality (western and non-western), functional harmony, heterophony, fugal processes, strophic forms, melodic analysis, serial processes, and extensions of tonality and atonality. (MUSC 0209 or by permission) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. lab. ART

Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021

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MUSC 0214 - Songwriting/Production      

Songwriting and Production Workshop
In this course we will offer student singer/songwriters a workshop setting for the creation and production of original songs. The course will revolve around student projects produced in the college’s electronic music studio and campus recording studio. Student projects will explore concepts of musical form and harmony, recording and production techniques, use of Digital Audio Workstations, and the incorporation of electronic sounds in a production. Lectures and demonstrations will provide theoretical and practical background to support those projects, and a collaborative environment will also allow students to learn from each other. (MUSC 0209 or permission). ART

Spring 2021

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MUSC 0240 - Performing Chamber Music      

Performing Chamber Music
In this course for intermediate to advanced performers we will explore the art of collaborative music making in the classical tradition. Students will form small vocal and instrumental ensembles (2–6 players) at the beginning of the semester or may enroll in the course as an established ensemble. Repertoire will be determined in collaboration with instructor. Weekly coaching sessions for each group and master classes for all groups will culminate in at least one end-of-semester performance and writing assignment. In addition to technical performance issues, master classes and readings will consider group dynamics, rehearsal techniques, and interpersonal aspects of musical collaboration. Although previous chamber music experience is not required, students should be experienced performers of notation-based music. 3 hrs. lect/disc. ART

Spring 2018

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MUSC 0250 - Performance Art      

Performance Art
When different arts merge in unusual and provocative ways, performance art is created. This seminar will engage in discussions, research, and creative projects regarding performance art—how it comes about, its place in our culture, and its aesthetic. Our focus and explorations will center on musical components. We will delve into the roots of performance art in the early nineteenth-century in writing and music, including work from Berlioz, Cage, Kagel, the Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Reich, and Glass concluding with the music/performance art of today. In addition, we will discuss the processes behind performance art, and create some of our own, culminating in a ‘concert’ of work. (A knowledge of an instrument or voice is desirable, though not required) 3 hrs. lect ART

Spring 2019

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MUSC 0309 - Advanced Composition I      

Advanced Composition
In this course we will focus on writing for string quartet, brass quintet, a cappella singing, piano, or performance art and involve issues of technique, style, and practical considerations, as well as study of selected elements of the literature. The course will culminate with a reading of student works by a professional ensemble or solo performer. This semester we focus on composing for the string quartet. We will discuss a variety of string techniques as well as issues of form and orchestration. We will listen to important works for that medium and discuss the styles from the Classical period to this century. (MUSC 0209 and 0210 or approval of instructor). 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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MUSC 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Admission by approval. Please consult published departmental guidelines and paragraph below.

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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MUSC 0704 - Senior Work      

Senior Work
Senior work is not required of all music majors and joint majors. However, students interested in and eligible for departmental honors (see guideline above, in "Departmental Honors" section) may propose one or two-semester Senior Work projects. Projects may be in history, composition, theory, ethnomusicology, performance, or electronic music, and should culminate in a written presentation, a public performance, or a combination of the two. MUSC0704 does not count as a course toward fulfillment of the music major.

Project and budget proposals for Independent Study and Senior Work should be submitted by the previous April 1 for fall and winter term projects, and the previous October 15 for spring term projects. Budget proposals will not be considered after those dates. Project proposals will be considered after the deadline but are more likely not to be approved due to previous commitments of faculty advisors or other scheduling reasons.

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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Activities and Pursuits


Department of Music

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753