The Composers Forum fosters a community of student composers, songwriters, performers and improvisers who collaborate in the creative invention and reinvention of original music-making, as well as a lively engagement with new music in the Belhaven community.

In everything it does, the Forum focuses on building relationships which draw composers and performers into a community of creative collaborators seeking to know and honor God as they develop their talents together.

Forum members work collectively to exercise their particular talents in various music-making initiatives. Activities vary, depending in part on the interests and abilities of Forum members.

Annual Student Composers Concerts showcase new pieces by composition students and foster creative, meaningful dialogue with communities of listeners. This is really a student-made event: forum members are collectively involved in the entire production process.

Forum members periodically collaborate with colleagues in theatre, dance, visual art, and creative writing. Recent collaborations include a songwriting project, in which composers paired up with creative writers to make original songs (Fall 2008); Ecclesiastes, a "devised theatre" production (Fall 2008); and Unseen, a structured improvisation with dance students (Fall 2007).

Forum members periodically present their works-in-progress for creative review and discussion. This not only provides composers with valuable feedback but also creates space for building fellowship around the creative process.

Structured improvisation is a routine part of Forum activities. It sharpens listening and compositional skills, exercises creative imagination, and provides tools for effective collaboration with other musicians and artists. The forum has used adaptations of John Zorn's Cobra, as well as the Viewpoints strategy borrowed from Improvisations; theses are sometimes included on Student Composers Concerts or presented in "open rehearsals." Improv frequently plays a role in collaborative projects.

The Forum hosts workshops with Belhaven music faculty and visiting artists, focusing on composing music for specific instruments and ensembles. Workshop leaders have included songwriter and producer Charlie Peacock (Spring 2009), faculty percussionist Paul Heindl and the Belhaven Percussion Ensemble (Fall 2008), visiting recitalist and soprano Susan Stokes (Spring 2007), and faculty guitarist Barry Hause (Fall 2007). The forum has also hosted seminars with working professionals, including Crafton Beck (director of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra) and composer Ken Davies.

The Forum explores repertoire through activities like group listening, score study, and attending rehearsals and concerts together, always taking time for thoughtful discussion and reflection.

As musical culture changes and develops, the Forum seeks to open up meaningful opportunities and venues in which to bring new works to life: local coffee shops, at mealtimes in the student center, at retirement communities, in churches, and more. The challenge and stimulation of making music in unusual venues prompt fresh thinking in pursuit of relevant, transformational, service-oriented composition.

For More Information: Contact Dr. Andrew Sauerwein, Professor of Music, 601-974-6470 or

Verse of the Year

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

Philippians 2:13