The USC Thornton Artist Diploma program is the most prestigious performance program offered by the USC Thornton School of Music. Total enrollment in this program is limited to four students. The program is designed for the artistic refinement of those who have already demonstrated great potential for a successful career as a concert performer. Successful applicants will have achieved an extremely high level of artistry and musical accomplishment prior to matriculation in the Artist Diploma program, and must have an earned bachelor’s degree prior to enrolling in the program.
Regardless of their primary instrument, applicants must upload an audition recording to be prescreened by the faculty. Prescreen recordings must be video recordings. No audio recordings in any format will be accepted. The results of the prescreen review will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition on the USC campus in Los Angeles.
Note: Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program. Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall DecisionDesk portal” by the December 1st deadline. Please see the “Prescreen Recording” section below for repertoire requirements for this submission. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.
To access the Fall portal to submit your recording click on the following link:
For all applicants who are approved for an audition after the prescreen review, a live audition is required. No student will be admitted to the ARTD program who has not performed a live audition. The live audition will be conducted in two rounds. Both rounds of the live audition will take place sometime between January 25 and 28, 2014. Applicants invited to the live Artist Diploma audition must plan to be available for both rounds of the live audition at any time between 9am and 10pm on these four dates. The first round of the live audition will be performed by each applicant for the faculty of his/her specific program of study (e.g., violin applicants will perform for the strings faculty, piano applicants will perform for the keyboard faculty). The faculty will determine from that first round whether to advance the applicant to the second round of the live audition. Only applicants who are advanced from the first round will perform in the second round. Applicants will be notified in person of the first round decision as soon as possible after the first round audition is completed. Any applicant not advanced to the second round will be denied admission to the Artist Diploma program. The second and final round of the live audition will be performed for a representative panel from a range of performance disciplines. This panel will make the final decision regarding admission to the Artist Diploma program. These final decisions will be issued to the applicants by mail after the auditions are completed.
Applicants are admitted for the Fall semester only. Acceptance is for the semester and year of admission only. Applicants wishing to enroll in a subsequent term will be required to re-apply.
The first round of the live audition will vary in length, based on what the faculty will request to hear at the time of the audition.
The second round of the live audition will be 90 minutes in length and will consist of the following:
- 50 minutes for the applicant to perform a full recital program from beginning to end without stops. This full recital program will be determined by the Thornton faculty (see below).
- 10 minute break
- 30 minutes of open time for the audition panel to hear passages from the required audition repertoire (including concerti) that were not performed in the first 50 minutes
The recital program to be performed in the first 50 minutes of the audition will be determined by the Thornton faculty from the material presented by the applicant on the original prescreen recording. Applicants will be notified via email one week prior to the audition date to inform them of what the Thornton faculty has decided their 50-minute audition program will include.
Only the departments listed below are accepting Artist Diploma applications. All repertoire listed below for the appropriate instrument must be included on the prescreen recording.
- Two solo recitals (60 minutes), both including repertoire from at least two style periods and one large-scale work written since 1920 on each program. Examples include the sonatas of Jose, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ponce, Ginastera, Brouwer, etc. Concertos by Rodrigo, Arnold, Brouwer, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and other substantial works from the 20th Century and later should also be programmed on one of the recitals.
- Alternatively the recitalist may prepare one solo recital using the conditions listed above and then prepare a chamber music recital as well. The chamber music recital can be music for guitar and other instruments or for guitar duo or multiple guitars. The chamber music component should also include music written since 1920 such as that by Rorem, Sydemann, Bogdanovic, etc.
Keyboard Collaborative Arts
- One instrumental recital program (60 minutes) representing a variety of styles (instrumentalists to be provided by the auditionee)
- One vocal program (60 minutes) including four styles and languages (singers to be provided by the auditionee)
- One solo recital program (60 minutes) performed by memory representing various styles
- One piano concerto performed by memory with second piano accompaniment (accompanist to be provided by the auditionee)
Keyboard Studies (Classical Piano)
- Two contrasting recital programs of 75 minutes
- Two contrasting complete piano concerti
Violin, Viola, and Cello
- Five complete contrasting recital works (a total of approximately 90 minutes of music), which must include all of the following:
- a complete sonata or partita for violin by Bach, or a complete suite for cello by Bach
- a standard sonata
- a contemporary piece written after 1980
- Two contrasting concerti
- Four complete recital works, which must include a complete suite by Bach
- One concerto
- Orchestral excerpts
- Five complete contrasting recital works
- One concerto
- The applicant should be an emerging young professional with significant Young Artist or Apprentice Program experience, and some professional opera experience
- Three complete leading opera roles performed with a professional or semi-professional opera company
- Two complete recitals: sixty minutes of music and at least four languages—preferred languages are German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and English. Recital repertoire should include song cycles from at least four of the following composers: Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, Gustav Mahler, Francis Poulenc, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Others may be included upon approval by the Vocal Arts faculty.
- Solo selections from three oratorios, chamber or symphonic literature. Choose from the following composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig von Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Georg Frederic Handel, Joseph Haydn, Igor Stravinsky, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gabriel Faure, Francis Poulenc.
Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion
- Two full recitals with accompaniment
- Two contrasting works: either two concerti or one concerto and one other standard work (may be a sonata, etc.)