The USC Thornton School of Music is proud to share the accomplishments of our outstanding alumni. These achievements represent only a small sampling of the many accomplishments of our alumni across the world.
The list below includes those accomplishments submitted since Spring 2016. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.
Classical Performance & Composition
Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia was one of 12 artists chosen by the New York Philharmonic to receive the 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, which celebrates up-and-coming artists.
Robert Annis MM ’74, Clarinet
Westminster Choir College, a music conservatory associated with Rider University of Princeton, New Jersey, has named its Playhouse venue in honor of Robert, who served as the College’s dean from 1992-2014.
Esther Armendariz ’13, Trombone
Esther was named second trombone of the Stockton Symphony in Stockton, CA.
Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10, Harp
Alison recently spoke about her research on music’s influence on health and development at USC’s Vision & Voices event: Music and Medicine: Experiments and Explorations.
Timur Bekbosunov GCRT ’06, Music Performance
Timur and his band, Timur and the Dime Museum, will have their music video for “Cobalt Blue” featured on Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment channel. They also premiered two songs on April 19 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall from “Artaud in Black Lodge,” an opera currently in development. He returned in May to premiere a role of Voltaire in “Theater of the World.” His new project, “Love, Honor, Obey” was showcased May 27 at the Boston Court Theater, and premiered a role of Strang in the “Anatomy Theater” at the Redcat Theater on June 16-19. Visit Timur’s website here.
Richard Bernstein ’89, Vocal Arts
Richard will receive an award commemorating his 20 years as a Principal Artist with the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, March 31. During Richard’s tenure with the MET, he has sung in 341 performances and cast in 32 different roles. Visit Richard’s website here.
Robin Buck, MM ’85, Vocal Arts
Robin performed the roles of Pangloss and Voltaire in the Long Beach Opera’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” which ran from January 23 – 30. Visit Robin’s website here.
The Calder Quartet, which includes Benjamin Jacobson MM ’07 and Andrew Bulbrook ’02, violin, violist Jonathan Moerschel MM ’03, and cellist Eric Byers ’03, will become Artists in Residence at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica next year.
The ensemble will present three concerts in March, April, and May of 2017, performing six of Beethoven’s string quartets, as well as newly commissioned works by Christopher Cerrone, Thornton Composition faculty member Ted Hearne, and alumnus Andrew McIntosh GCRT ’12, early music.
The group also performed at the Kennedy Center Terrace on February 28.
Tim Callobre ’15, Music, GCRT candidate, SMPTV
Tim was recently profiled by OZY magazine. They discuss his prodigious experience as a classical guitarist and his emergence in film scoring.
Janet Chapple ’57
Janet released her third book about Yellowstone National Park, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis, available June 1st.
Chelsea Chaves MM ’15, Vocal Arts
Chelsea hosted a benefit recital on June 1 at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood. She also sang the National Anthem at the Lakers vs. the Grizzlies game at the Staples Center on March 22. She made her debut with the Opera Santa Barbara on April 22 & 24 and attended the Musiktheater Bavaria in July. Visit Chelsea’s website here.
Eunghee Cho ’16, Cello
Eunghee has won 2nd Prize – Cello Division – at the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China. Cho was also awarded a special prize for his performance of a new work by Chinese composer Damin Ren, as seen in the video.
Edward Cibener ’83, Piano
Edward recently performed a recital entitled “Morts pour la France,” which featured the works of Stanford-based composer William Byron Webster.
Will Cravy ’14, MM candidate, Double Bass
Will was awarded 3rd Place in the 2016 Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition.
Colin Davin ’09, Classical Guitar
Colin was recently appointed to the guitar faculty at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
Harold Daugherty MM ’67, DMA ’76, Church Music
Dr. Daugherty conducted a performance of John Rutter’s “Requiem” at La Canada Congregational Church on May 22.
Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové will be music directing and conducting El Camino College’s production of “Into the Woods.” He was also recently awarded a Special Commendation Award in the Conducting Masterclass competition with the London Classical Soloists. Visit Nové’s website here.
Yelena Dyachek MM ’16, GCRT candidate, Vocal Arts
Yelena who was recently hailed “magnificent” by the Los Angeles Times, won the Grand Finals for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
David Ferneau MM ’15, Trombone
David won a trombone position with the Disneyland Band in Anaheim, CA. Visit David’s website here.
John Glover MM ’07, Composition
John and current DMA candidate Daniel Temkin were two of four winners of the Mirror Visions Ensemble’s (MVE) Inaugural Young Composers Competition. Their newly commissioned pieces for the ensemble will be presented as part of MVE’s 25th season.
Mak Grgic MM ’12, DMA candidate, Classical Guitar
Mak joined the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra on Saturday for their “Latin Rhythms” concert, showcasing works from Gershwin, Rodrigo, Moncayo, and Bernstein. He was also featured in the February 25th issue of The Daily Trojan, where he spoke about his involvement in Thornton’s weekly Music@RushHour concert series. Visit Mak’s website here.
Saad Haddad ’14, Composition
Saad was commissioned by the California Association of Professional Music Teachers to compose a new work for flute, viola and harp to be premiered on October 15 at California State University, Long Beach. Visit Saad’s website here.
Ian Hallas MM ’15, GCRT candidate, Double Bass
Ian recently won a position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
James Newton Howard DMA, Piano
The works of GRAMMY Award-winning film composer and USC Thornton alumnus and Board of Councilors member James Newton Howard will be celebrated in a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall this November.
At the London concert, Newton will conduct an orchestra and choir to coincide with memorable film scenes projected overhead.
Robert Istad DMA ’06, Choral Music
Robert is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Professor Award at Cal State Fullerton University.
Tomas Janzon MM ’00, Classical Guitar
Tomas promoted his latest album “Experiences” on several tours throughout Brazil, USA, and Europe. Additionally, he completed a tour with his jazz trio titled “From New York to Korpilombolo,” where he received rave reviews. Visit Tomas’s website here.
Peter Kairoff DMA ’80, Piano, DMA ’85, Accompanying
Peter recently released his seventh album featuring the piano music of Franz Schubert.
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless music collective founded by current arts leadership student Benjamin Mitchell and alumnus Michael Kaufman MM ’12, DMA ’15, cello, will premiere works by USC Thornton alumni Saad Haddad ’14, Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, and Gernot Wolfgang GCRT ’94, as well as Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, among others, for its 2016-17 season.
The next program, which will include Saad Haddad’s Takht and Veil of Leaves by Julia Adolphe, takes place October 7 & 9.
Alexander Kato-Willis MM ’10, DMA ’13, Piano
Alex recently composed the score for the French documentary “Thanks to Your Noble Shadow,” a film about the last Irish missionary nun in Japan. Alex is currently an Applied Piano Instructor at Cuesta College.
Michael Kaufman MM ’12, DMA ’15, Cello
Michael and current student Benjamin Mitchell’s conductor-less ensemble, The Kaleidoscope Chamber Ochestra, was recently profiled in the Los Angeles Times following their performance of two long-form pieces by Olivier Messiaen and John Russell at the Glendale City Church in February 2015. Visit Michael’s website here.
Alison King ’10, Vocal Arts
Alison was a regional winner in the Upper Midwest Region of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Tristan Koester ’15, Composition
Tristan recently premiered a piece entitled “Memory Fragments” with the Varied Trio, a chamber ensemble featuring alumni Yuri Inoo MM ’04, DMA ’09, percussion and Aron Kallay DMA ’09, piano. Visit Tristan’s website here.
Nikhil Korula ’01, Vocal Arts
Nikhil started a songwriting team called “The Element,” and wrote the opening track of Ziggy Marley’s new album “Start it Up.” In addition, he reunited with his acappella group, Allright, to sing the national anthem at the Lakers vs. Magic game at the Staples Center on March 8. His band (The Nikhil Korula Band) headlined two sold out shows at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and will open for Eric Hutchinson at Summerfest 2016 in Milwaukee.
Cho Eun Lee DMA ’13, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Keyboard Collaborative Arts alumna Cho Eun Lee will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Collaborative Piano/Vocal Coach at Lee University in Tennessee beginning Fall 2016 and will be an accompanist at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria for the summer. Visit Cho Eun’s website here.
Gina Luciani MM ’13, Flute
Gina played the flute solo on “Down Under” with Colin Hay of Men at Work on ABC’s “Greatest Hits Live!” Finale. She also released her self-titled debut album on April 26. Visit Gina’s website here.
Matthew Mason MM ’02, Piano
Matthew was commissioned by the San Antonio International Piano Competition to write a piano piece for the finalists to perform. He will also be the judge of the special award, “Best Performance of the Commissioned Work.”
Robert McClure MM ’88, Horn, MBA ’99
Robert was named Lecturer Emeritus of the Finance, Real Estate and Law Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Robert is Principal Owner and Portfolio Manager at McClure Investment Management, L.L.C. where he focuses primarily on working with musicians and performance organizations. Visit Robert’s website here.
Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
Film composer and alumnus Bear McCreary was recently interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered about his success as a film and television composer. Visit Bear’s website here.
Scott Morris ’94, Classical Guitar
Scott was unanimously elected to serve as the next Department Chair for the CSU Dominguez Hills Department of Music. Dr. Morris has served as the Supervisor of Guitar Studies for the past decade and has a proven track record of successful recruitment and program building.
Sally Mosher MA ’74, JD ’81
Sally released SOUNDINGS, which features improvisations of electronic music. GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng DMA ’91 also recently performed two Sally’s harpsichord compositions for Piano Spheres Concerts and the Harpsichord Center Artist Series.
Thomas Newman, Composition
Alumnus and Board of Councilors member Thomas Newman received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Music – Original Score for his score to “Bridge of Spies.”
Julia Newmann, Composition (Film Scoring)
A work by alumna Julia Newmann was recently performed by a 55-piece orchestra as part of “The Women Who Score: Soundtracks Live.” Visit Julia’s website here.
Andrew Norman ’02, Piano, MM ’04, Composition
Thornton alumnus and composition faculty member Andrew Norman received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his compositional work. Only 12 composers are chosen for this prestigious international honor. He will work on two upcoming operas, for the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony, and for the Opera Philadelphia. Andrew premiered his work “Play: Level 1” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under conductor Gustavo Dudamel on February 25, 2016. The LA Phil will perform the work on their upcoming European tour. Visit Andrew’s website here.
Olivier Ochanine MM ’07, Conducting
Olivier recently won first prize at the 2015 Antal Doráti International Conducting Competition in Budapest.
Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Patrick received The 2015 American Prize in Composition in the Student division for his work “Even in Paradise.” Alumnus Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV, also received recognition for his work “Orbit” in the Orchestra division. Visit Patrick’s website here.
Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules was selected to participate in the 2016 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, a month-long immersive program for aspiring composers of film, TV, and other visual media. Visit Jules’ website here.
Derek Polischuk ’01, MM ’04, DMA ’06, Piano
Derek founded “Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life,” a weeklong intensive providing music students with autism the chance to preview life as a collegiate musician.
Katherine Redlus MM ’16, Harp
Katherine is currently an ensemble member with the award-winning Four Larks, which opened The Temptation of St. Anthony and will run until September 11. Visit Katherine’s website here.
Keenan Reesor MM ’10, Piano, DMA candidate, Musicology
Keenan accepted a tenure track position at Southern Virginia University to teach music history and piano this fall. He also performed with the Fort Collins Symphony this past April. visit Keenan’s website here.
Ryan Reithmeier DMA ’16, Vocal Arts
Ryan recently accepted a position as Director of Opera at Azusa Pacific University where he has served on the vocal faculty since 2015.
Carrie Rexroat MM ’15, Horn
Carrie will join the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra as their new Second Horn in the 2016-17 season. She was also one of five musicians chosen to participate in the International Cultural Exchange Program. She will spend 10 months performing with the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. Visit Carrie’s website here.
Daniel Robbins MM ’76, Composition
Daniel adapted and orchestrated a concert suite from the classic Miklos Rozsa score for MGM’s Julius Caesar, which was performed at the BBC Concert Orchestra’s “Shakespeare at Stratford” concert on April 23 and conducted by Keith Lockhart. Dr. Robbins also appeared with the Atlanta Symphony last November as guest lecturer for his “Music and Our Responses to Film” presentation. Visit Daniel’s website here.
Adrian Ruiz ’62, MM ’64, Piano
Adrian performed a live recording of the Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens (AR Records), which also featured fellow alumnus Dr. Clarence Wiggins DMA ’66, music education, as the conductor. Visit Adrian’s website here.
Jason Sabino ’13, Choral Music
Jason was unanimously selected to become the next Artistic Director of the Oregon Chorale. He is also the new Director of the Chancel Choir and Congregational Singing at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, OR.
Tomomi Sato ’15, Piano, MM Candidate, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Tomomi was named the winner of the 2016 Sundays Live audition through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She will perform a program featuring the works of Bach, Schumann and Wild on September 11.
Garry Schyman ’78, Composition
USC Thornton SMPTV faculty Garry Schyman, will have the world-premiere of his viola concerto, Zingaro, performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony on August 21. Visit Garry’s website here.
Brittany Seits MM ’13, GCRT ’15, Bassoon
Brittany recently published “Preventing injury for instrumental musicians,” an interview with physical therapist, Dr. Erin Hayden. Brittany currently serves as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission for USC Thornton.
Abigail Shapiro ’15, Vocal Arts
Abigail performed the role of Madame de Tourvel in The Dangerous Liaisons at the Manhattan School of Music, which was recorded live with Albany Records.Visit Abigail’s website here.
George Shaw ’04, Composition (Film Scoring)
George was commissioned to compose for “Through the Glass Ceiling,” a contemporary ballet project and the theme song and score to “Escape the Night,” a YouTube Red Original Series. Visit George’s website here.
Toby Sherriff GCRT ’15, SMPTV
Composer and USC Thornton alumnus, Toby recently received a SOCAN Foundation Award for his music for Charles Kenhao Mai’s animated film, Parkability. Sheriff took 3rd place for Best Original Animated Score. Visit Toby’s website here.
Marek Szpakiewicz MM ’01, DMA ’08, Violoncello
Marek has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Cello Studies at Azusa Pacific University’s (APU) School of Music. Szpakiewicz has been teaching cello at APU since 2005 and is the Director of Chamber Music. He was also featured in a special charity concert with legendary pianist Fuzjko Hemming on March 13 at the Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Visit Marek’s website here.
Ryan Tani ’15, Vocal Arts
Ryan had his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall Stage with the Manhattan Chorale on April 18, conducting Johannes Brahms’ “Warum ist das Licht gegeben,” Op. 74, No. 1. Ryan was the undergraduate winner of the 2015 American Choral Directors Association Conducting Competition.
Malesha Jessie Taylor MM ’05, Vocal Arts
Malesha recently published essays about diversity and the arts ecosystem and will be a guest speaker at the Sacra Profana Summer Choral Intensive. Visit Malesha’s website here.
Thornton Bass Tuba Quartet
The Thornton Bass Tuba Quartet (which includes alumni Brandon Davis MM ’13, DMA candidate and James Similuk ’15, MM candidate) has been invited to compete at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference this summer.
Kristof Van Grysperre MM ’02, Conducting, MM ’00, DMA ’05, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Kristof will be conducting two new operas, “Fallujah” and “ANYA17.” Visit Kristof’s website here.
Steven Vanhauwaert MM ’06, GCRT ’08, Piano
Steven released two collaborative albums: “Joseph Woelfl: The Paris Years” and “Pensées Intimes,” the first volume in “The Musicians and the Great War” series. Visit Steven’s website here.
Joseph Amante Y Zapata DMA ’02, Choral Music
Joseph was recently promoted to Full Professor of Music at the Community College of Rhode Island.
Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, SMPTV
Peter had his work Silver Fanfare chosen to open the Hollywood Bowl season for the second consecutive year. Peter also orchestrated music alongside Thornton Board of Councilors members James Newton Howard on The Huntsman: Winter’s War and Thomas Newman on Finding Dory. Peter recently conducted three shows on Josh Groban’s Stages tour. Visit Peter’s website here.
Ben Bram ’10, Music Industry
Ben and popular music alumnus Scott Hoying won GRAMMY Awards for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella” for their arrangement of Pentatonix’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Visit Ben’s website here.
Brandon Cordoba MM ’13, Jazz Studies
Brandon released a new album, “BLACKdiamonds.” Exclusively instrumental, the album combines retro and current R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Soul for a unique sound. Visit Brandon’s website here.
Alfred Darlington ’00, Music
Alfred released a new album “Kneedelus,” in collaboration with the acclaimed ensemble Kneebody. On this new album, Alfred goes back to his roots in jazz, combining it with his electronic style. Visit Alfred’s website here.
Tamar Davis ’02, Music Industry
Tamar was a recent contestant on NBC’s The Voice.
Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV
Karim had his latest work, “Earthrise,” performed by La Sierra University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on May 21. The performance was conducted by fellow alumnus Giovanni Santos, MM ’07, music education. Visit Karim’s website here.
Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Grant Fonda composed the score for USC’s advertisement which aired during the NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the University of Alabama. The spot featured fellow Thornton alumnus Sezin Turkmenoglu GCRT ’14, jazz studies, and several current Thornton students. Visit Grant’s website here.
Erik Fong ’01, Music Industry
Erik was a candidate for San Jose City Council District 6. Visit Erik’s website here.
Danielle Gillman ’01, Music Industry
Danielle created “Birdhouse for Autism,” a mobile application for parents raising children with disabilities.
Kathleen Grace MM ’04, Jazz Studies
USC Thornton Jazz Studies faculty member and alumna Kathleen hosted a night in tribute to legendary songwriter and Thornton Board of Councilors member Randy Newman on February 10 at the Blue Whale. Visit Kathleen’s website here.
Divya Maus ’14, Popular Music
Divya authored a guest column for ContemporaryMusicalTheater.com, where she wrote a wide-ranging article about her journey from popular music to musical theater.
Vince Mendoza MM ’85, Jazz Studies
Faculty member and alumnus Vince Mendoza has been appointed Composer in Residence and 1st Guest Conductor for the WDR Big Band’s upcoming season. Visit Vince’s website here.
Olivia Mitchell ’14, Music Industry
Olivia and fellow USC alumni Kerry Furrh ’14 and Cailin Lowry ’14, produced a short film, Girl Band, which will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Olivia wrote and produced the original songs and score for the project. Fellow USC Thornton alumna Madison Scheckel ’14, popular music, also co-wrote one of the songs. Visit Olivia’s website here.
Amber Navran ’12, Jazz Studies
Amber has contributed to a feature article on MajoringInMusic.com that presents jazz majors with advice for building a music career after college.
The article also includes tips from Thornton jazz studies alumni Greg Johnson MM ’12, DMA ’15 and Daniel Weidlein ’12.
Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
Derik sang a special cameo on ABC’s Modern Family episode which aired on May 4. He also recently released his latest YouTube cover: “Like I Would” by ZAYN. Visit Derik’s website here.
Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
Greg and his trio composed of jazz studies alumni Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, and Dean Koba MM ’93, were featured in the Los Angeles Times for their recent performance at the Norton Simon Museum. They also performed at the Blue Whale on May 5. Visit Greg’s website here.
Duncan Thum ’06, GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Duncan was nominated for his second consecutive Primetime Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)” for his work on Chef’s Table. Visit Duncan’s website here.
Jeremy Tisser GCRT ’12, SMPTV
Jeremy won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Song/Score – Special Feature for the theme in the docu-series “Composers on Composing.” He also released a new feature film “Actor for Hire” on iTunes. The score features alumnus John Urban MM ’13, jazz studies. Visit Jeremy’s website here.
Scholarly & Professional Studies
James Hurd DMA ’73
James was recently honored as a Washburn Alumni Fellows in November 2015. This award is given to distinguished alumni who’ve achieved notable success.
Diane Wittry ’83, Music Education, MM ’85, Conducting
Diane was a featured guest at the National Conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association, which was held on January 14-16 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Diane, along with fellow alumni Yehuda Gilad and David Srebnik ’97, were featured in Musical America as part of their “Top 30 Professionals of the Year,” a list featuring a very distinguished group of individuals. Visit Diane’s website here.