USC Thornton School of Music Ensembles

The USC Thornton School of Music presents more than 500 student and faculty performances throughout the year, both on- and off-campus.

The USC Thornton Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, Opera, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Early Music Ensemble and a wide variety of other large and small choral and instrumental ensembles present a variety of vocal and instrumental music in a broad range of musical styles. Through performances of a diverse repertoire, ranging from standard classics to modern music and often with the guidance of major contemporary composers, these ensembles are a launching point for the finest musicians of the next generation, giving them the skills they need to cross the threshold from the educational to the professional realm.

The Thornton School of Music also presents a free weekly recital series, “Music at Noon,” on Wednesdays at the United University Church. The series showcases some of the school’s finest soloists and ensembles performing varied and interesting programs.

USC Thornton Symphony
Since its inception in the early 1900s, the USC Thornton Symphony has been a visible artistic presence in the Los Angeles music community. It works regularly with some of the world’s greatest conductors, composers and musicians such as Henryk Górecki, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Joan Tower, Jacek Kaspszyk, the Romeros, the late Isaac Stern and most recently Yo-Yo Ma. This continues a long-standing tradition of collaborations with major figures in the field of music, from Bruno Walter and Leopold Stokowski to Witold Lutoslawski–historic collaborations that define this orchestra as one with tremendous range and ability. Górecki claimed it to be the best musical ensemble he had personally worked with after he conducted his third symphony in the West Coast premiere from the Bovard stage in 1997.

USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra
Established in 1988, the USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra performs works from the eighteenth and twentieth centuries that were written for a smaller, more intimate ensemble, including two running engagements with the Thornton Opera. Additionally, this versatile group is involved in student concerto opportunities, choral orchestra pieces presented in conjunction with the Thornton choral groups, readings with master’s degree student conductors as well as new compositions.

USC Thornton Wind Ensemble
Directed by H. Robert Reynolds and Sharon Lavery, the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble consistently presents innovative programs featuring the best of wind compositions and arrangements.

USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble
USC Thornton Edge (formerly known as the USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble) was founded in 1976 by Robert Wojciak. Since 1984, Thornton Edge has been under the direction of Donald Crockett. Comprised of some of the finest student musicians of the USC Thornton School of Music, Thornton Edge has presented an annual series of concerts at USC for many years, has been a guest on the Monday Evening Concerts and Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, as soloists with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and has presented concert tours in Berlin, Paris and Lyons. Under Donald Crockett, Thornton Edge presented numerous premieres and has been coached and/or conducted by such composers as Witold Lutoslawski, John Harbison, Henryk Górecki, Joan Tower, Steven Stucky, Judith Weir and the members of the USC Thornton composition faculty. Thornton Edge received the 2004 LA Weekly Award for Outstanding Classical Soloist/Ensemble.

USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia
The USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia (formerly the USC Thornton Early Music Ensemble) is a period-instrument ensemble whose members are among the most gifted instrumentalists at the USC Thornton School. The Baroque Sinfonia is led by Adam Gilbert, the director of the Early Music program. Specializing in music from the seventeenth- through mid-eighteenth century, it has performed in the U.K.-L.A. Festival, the Los Angeles Bach Festival, the Long Beach Bach Festival, the J. Paul Getty Summer Music Festival, the Cal State Summer Arts Festival and concert series at UCLA, Occidental College, Chapman University, the Skirball Cultural Center and many others. Its performances have been heard over National Public Radio and its members, past and present, populate some of the best professional ensembles on both coasts. Solo singers specializing in baroque styles and techniques also take part in the concerts.

USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble
Utilizing a wide range of percussion instruments, from the standard to the exotic, the USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble, directed by Joseph Pereira, presents a diverse range of musical styles. The group has premiered many new works and has had music composed specifically for it by artists such as Michael Abels, Frederick Lesemann and Erica Muhl.

USC Thornton Chamber Singers
Under the direction of Jo-Michael Scheibe, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers is the premiere choral ensemble at USC. This past November, the Chamber Singers were joined by the USC Thornton Concert Choir and Symphony in a magnificent performance of J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor under the direction of Maestro Helmuth Rilling. Earlier this year, members of the Chambers Singers and Concert Choir joined Andrea Bocelli in his performance of “My Christmas” for PBS. Among its other recent achievements, the ensemble gave the keynote performance at the 2005 national conference of the American Choral Directors Association at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In 2002, the Chamber Singers won the Grand Prix of a prestigious international choral competition in Tours, France. The Chamber Singers, in conjunction with the USC Thornton Concert Choir, has performed in recent years with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. They perform regularly in concert halls around the country and around the world: they had tours of Korea (1994), Poland (1997) and China (2006).

USC Thornton Opera
USC Thornton Opera provides career development opportunities for singers, coach/pianists, conductors and directors. The opera workshop is a repertory experience involving preparation and performance of operatic works and excerpts for performance both on and off the USC campus.

USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra
Directed by Bob Mintzer, this ensemble concentrates on the hard swinging style of the classic big bands. The flagship of the jazz studies department, the ensemble performs worldwide at jazz festivals, as well as for marquee television and live performing arts events.

ALAJE (Afro Latin American Jazz Ensemble)
Directed by Aaron Serfaty, ALAJE features music that is student-arranged for the 10 to 14 member ensemble. The group is a favorite at LA area festivals and cultural events.

USC CreSCendo Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Directed by Sara Gazarek, the USC CreSCendo Vocal Jazz Ensemble is the university’s home for vocal jazz, popular song and a cappella group performance. Performing on mic and with a full rhythm section, the ensemble presents material from the American songbook as well as works from contemporary composers and arrangers. The ensemble has performed at “We Love Ella! A tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” hosted by Natalie Cole and Patti Austin, LA Live and at festivals and music series across California.

USC Thornton Jazz Honors Combo
The USC Thornton Jazz Honors Combo, led by faculty Jason Goldman, is a select group of students chosen to represent the Jazz Studies department in high profile events. The group is comprised of some of the finest young jazz musicians in the country. The ensemble performs with various jazz masters throughout the year, tours, and records.