AURA - University of Houston
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Rob Smith
Professor of Composition
Coordinator of Composition
Director of AURA Contemporary Ensemble
phone:  713 - 743-3163
email:  robsmith@
office: MSM 327

Through the presentation of programs that represent the latest classical music styles and trends, AURA prepares musicians for careers that involve the performance of contemporary music. Dedicated to creating an innovative concert experience, the ensemble frequently collaborates with artists from other disciplines including actors, authors, choreographers and dancers, and utilizes theatrical lighting, projections and video in their performances.  

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Interested students should contact the director. Assignments for string, wind and percussion performers are determined through orchestra/wind ensemble auditions held at the beginning of each semester. Pianists and vocalists are assigned through consultation with applied faculty. AURA's core instrumentation is flute, clarinet, violin, cello, two pianos and percussion, although additional instruments, such as viola and saxophone, are often included.

Composition Division

Under the guidance of our award-winning faculty, composition majors develop a diverse portfolio of original concert music, gain fluency in contemporary repertoire and techniques and engage with the diverse and vibrant Houston arts community. 
Sarofim Awards 
The composition division awards annual composition prizes for the best undergraduate and graduate student works through the Louisa Stude Sarofim Composition Contest. A panel of professional composers from outside the school of music is selected each year to adjudicate the competition. Winners receive a cash prize and are commissioned to compose a new work for AURA. 


Piano Division

Our program immerses students in the art of solo piano performance, collaborative piano and piano pedagogy, preparing them to embark upon rewarding journeys in the world of music. 

Percussion Division

The Moores School of Music percussion division provides an intensive and comprehensive program of study built on a total percussion perspective. We boast one of the finest and most extensive collections of percussion instruments in the country  


Strings Division

Committed to excellence, our internationally renowned string faculty provides our students with an outstanding and personal educational experience. Global in scope, we pride ourselves on educating our students with the necessary skills to succeed in a diverse and modern musical landscape

Winds Division

The Moores School of Music winds division is served by nationally and internationally recognized faculty and provides a totally musical learning environment through progressive curricula designed  to support musical career aspirations in performance, education and the arts.