Music Theory, Composition, Chair of Composition Department


Frances received her D.M.A in music Composition from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and has completed private composition and theory instruction with Nadia Boulanger in Paris at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau and with Robert Hall Lewis. She studied piano under Carl Broman, Marjorie Mitchell and Fernando Laires, and computer music technology with Steve Antosca.

Performance and Teaching Experience

Frances has composed works for and/or performed by the Verge Ensemble, the Contemporary Music Forum, Alexandria Choral Society, CREO, choirs of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Capitol Hill), Artists To End Hunger, Lenox Ensemble, Levine Chamber Orchestra, Music At St. Mark’s, Georgetown Classical Theater, Theater on the Hill, St. Mark’s Players and Peabody Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Notable performers of her work include: conductor Joel Lazar; flutists Katherine Hay, Karen Johnson, Linda Marianiello, Renae Siebert (NY Phil), Bonnie Lake (Baltimore Symphony), Thomas Perazzolli (NSO), Elivi Varga; oboist Kenneth Stilwell; violinists Jody Gatwood, Joel Berman, Peter Haas, John Davario, Helmut Braunlich; organist Keith Reas; cellist Lori Barnet; percussionists Barry Dove, Leon Khoja-Eynatyan, Albert Merz, Randall Eyles, Tom Jones, William Richards; pianists Nanette Butler Shannon, Jeffrey Chappell, Andrew Simpson, Anthony Stark, Francis Conlon, Donald Freund, Eva Pierrou, Carlos Rodriquez, Laurie Huidicek; organist Keith Reas and singers Susan Bender, Mariana Busching, Pamela Jordan and James Shaffran as well as Monumental Brass.

Her music has been performed at the Corcoran Gallery, the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center at Old Dominion University, Meeting House Chamber Music Series (Cape Cod), Barney Circle House (Smithsonian Institute), National Museum of Women in the Arts, Wolf Trap, Strathmore Hall, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Encore Series (Levine School of Music), Dance Place, Madison Avenue Presbyterian (NY), St. James Episcopal (Capitol Hill), at numerous colleges and universities and broadcast on WETA-TV and FM, WGMS and BRT (Belgium).

She is published by Arsis Press and Recorded on Am/Arc by Linda Marianiello and Keith Reas.

Frances’ former teaching positions include at Georgetown University and Goucher College.

At Levine

Frances has been on the Levine faculty since 1988 where she teaches AP Music Theory, Advanced Music History and Analysis and Composer Connection. She is also the Chair of the Composition department.

“When I arrived at Levine, it was an experiment that I loved being a part of. The school has evolved, but I still love working with students who want help in beginning and continuing their adventures within the creative process.”

Teaching Philosophy and Approach

“Beginning composition students want to compose and often do not know where to start. I try to teach all composition and theory students how to analyze works of other composers (living and historical) so they can learn from them. Learning from other composers in this manner was practiced by all important composers throughout music history. This is how an individual composer builds his or her language over a lifetime.

I also insist that most pieces will be for instruments and ensembles that will perform them on completion, whether this is at Levine, for a school ensemble or for friends. The piece is not finished until it is performed and this is a vital learning process for students. We have numerous performance opportunities for composition and theory students throughout the year, first in the classroom and then in our recitals and masterclass.”



When not teaching or writing, Frances works as an environmentalist and loves to get out into nature as often as she can.