Mark Carlson, adjunct associate professor of theory and composition in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, is a 2013 recipient of a letter of distinction from New Music USA for his "significant contribution to the field of contemporary American music" in founding and serving as artistic director of renowned chamber music ensemble Pacific Serenades. Past recipients of the award include Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas. New Music USA advocates opportunities for national and international musicians through the conception, distribution and appreciation of new American music. 
Pacific Serenades, now in its 27th year, is known for its careful selection of performers and the intimate settings in which music enthusiasts enjoy its programs. By the end of the current season, it will have debuted 110 original works, setting itself ahead of any other chamber music ensemble in the country. 
Carlson also enjoys international acclaim attributable to his versatile composition of art songs, chamber music, choral music, concertos and other large ensemble works, and songs for musical theater. He has produced 11 CDs, including Chamber Music America/WQXR Record Award-winning album, "The Hall of Mirrors." Carlson has commissioned more than 50 works for local and national musicians for both groups and individual musicians. His music has been published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Pacific Serenades Music, C Swigart Music, Black Squirrel Music and Thorpe Music.
A California native, Carlson earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in music composition from UCLA, where he studied with prominent composers Alden Ashforth and Paul Reale and flutist Roger Stevens.