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 Fall 2013. To submit your own alumni accomplishment, please email email@example.com.
Troy Armstrong ’13, Composition
Troy recently won the Marilyn K. Glick Young Composers Competition at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for his piece, Supercell. Part of his reward includes subscription performances in April 2014 with ISO. Armstrong is the third Thornton student in four years to win the competition.
Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10, Harp Performance
Alison was recently interviewed by National Geographic about how music may have a profound and lasting impact on the brain. Read the full article here.
Jongnic Bontemps GCRT ’12, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Jongnic worked with Marco Beltrami GCRT ’93, scoring for motion pictures and television, to provide additional original music for the theatrical remake of Carrie. Additionally, Jongnic was one of the six fellows chosen for the 2013 Sundance Music and Sound Design Lab at SkyWalker Ranch.
Lauren Buckley MM ’08, DMA ’12, Choral Music
Lauren is the new Classic Worship Director of the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.
Robert Curl ’12, Bassoon Performance, Paul Curtis ’08, MM ’10, Bassoon Performance, and Dana Jackson ’09, Bassoon Performance
The USC Thornton Alumni Bassoon Quartet—Thornton faculty Judith Farmer, Robert Curl, Paul Curtis, and Dana Jackson—performed at the 2013 International Double Reed Society Conference a piece by Gernot Wolfgang GCRT ’94, scoring for motion pictures and television, titled Dance of the Polar Bears.
A. Phoenix Delgado ’02, MM ’04, DMA ’13, Flute Performance and Conducting
Dr. A. Phoenix Delgado conducts the New Valley Symphony Orchestra in a concert titled, “New Valley Explores the New World.” Highlighting the program will be Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, popularly known as the “New World Symphony.” The concert will take place at the Hall of Liberty in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.
Marina Harris GCRT ’13, Vocal Arts Performance
Marina was one of the grand prize winners of the George London Foundation Vocal Competition held in New York City on February 21, 2014.
Kevin Hartnett ’13, Composition
Kevin recently composed a choral piece titled “There Is a Flower” that was premiered by Kantorei of Kansas City in December. The ensemble, led by artistic director Chris Munce, performed the piece on two concerts in Kansas City as part of their “Meditations and Carols” Christmas program.
Shabnam Kalbasi MM ’12, Vocal Arts Performance
Shabnam presented a program titled “A Recital of Song, Opera and Broadway” sponsored by the Westlake Village Music Society on August 25.
Lesley Leighton MM ’91, Vocal Arts Performance, DMA ’12, Choral Music
Lesley has been appointed Interim Director of Choral Activities at La Sierra University in addition to her duties as Associate Conductor at the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Stig Mathisen MM ’08, DMA ’11, Studio Guitar Performance
Stig was appointed Chair of the Guitar Program at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA in fall 2012.
A.J. McCaffrey DMA ’13, Composition
A.J. was named the winner of American Composers Orchestra’s (ACO) 2013 Underwood Commission and received $15,000 for his work Thank You for Waiting, which will be premiered by ACO in the 2014-2015 season.
Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
Singer/songwriter and guitarist on GLEE Derik Nelson completed his west coast tour of 30 high schools to raise $100,000 for arts and music education. His team includes two other alums, Brian Hargrove ’09, music industry, jazz studies, and Jack Kovacs ’10, studio guitar performance.
Yohan Partan MM ’12, Choral Music
Yohan received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles for his commitment and dedication to the San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus.
Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules is the winner of the 2013-14 Symphony in C Young Composers’ Competition. His work NEON NIGHTS was selected from dozens of submissions and was performed by New Jersey’s Symphony in C on September 21, 2013. According to Composer-in-Residence Daniel Dorff: “NEON NIGHTS has all the sparkle and brilliance promised by the work’s title, and all the elegance and craft of a composer who has just completed training at the University of Southern California, and now beginning graduate studies at the University of Michigan. NEON NIGHTS and Jules Pegram will join the ranks of the many successful composers and winning works honored by our Young Composers’ Competition as a stepping stone to future acclaim.”
John Piscitello GCRT ’12, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
John composed ten cues “Additional Music” for the film The Short Game, presented by Netflix and released in theaters September 2013.
Sean Samimi MM ’10, GCRT ’11, Classical Guitar Performance
Sean is the new Artistic Administrator for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.
Jeremy Tisser GCRT ’12, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Jeremy won “Best Song/Score – Mobile Game” for his score to the iPad game Tricklab at the 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Awards at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood, California. Tricklab features Gina Luciani MM ’13, flute performance, on flute and piccolo. He also received a nomination in the same category for the big band score to iPhone game ZombieSC. Additionally, Jeremy received the “Award of Merit – Video Game Score” for Tricklab and the “Award of Excellence – Composition” for ZombieSC, both from the 2013 Global Music Awards. Finally, Jeremy collaborated with Mark Watters ’77, Saxophone Performance, to score Disney’s Get a Horse!, a new Mickey Mouse short that is currently screening before the film Frozen, in theaters now.
Dale Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
Dale was selected as the “Young Composer” winner of The Esoterics’ Polyphonos choral composition competition and will be writing a new commissioned piece that The Esoterics will premiere next year.
Matthew Brown MM ’04, DMA ’08, Composition
Matthew had selected choral works released by the Antioch Chamber Ensemble, titled, “(though love be a day).”
Jessica Rose Cambio MM ’06, Vocal Arts Performance
Jessica recently made her UK debut as Mimi in the Francesca Zambello production of Puccini’s La Boheme at the Royal Albert Hall in London to critical acclaim after performances in Como, Brescia, Pavia, Cremona, Tel Aviv, and in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She will reprise the role and debut Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni this fall in Macedonia, Thailand, and China. Other recent engagements include Beatriz in Catan’s La Hija de Rappaccini with Gotham Chamber Opera.
Terry Carter MM ’02, Guitar Performance
Terry and his band TC & The Tomcats performed at the Santa Monica Performing Arts Center on Thursday, November 7. They also performed with the Wirechoir at East Los Angeles College on Friday, November 8.
Alan Chan DMA ’08, Composition
Alan will be featured in DOWNBEAT Magazine’s February 2014 issue, which was written by prominent jazz critic Kirk Silsbee. Additionally, the Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra has been invited to perform at the Typhoon Restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport on Monday, February 3. Additionally, Alan and his 17-piece Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra officially released their debut EP “Rancho Calaveras,” which was independently produced and fully fan-funded, in October 2013.
Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nove is one of eight emerging, young conductors selected to conduct the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 1, 2014 as part of the International Tchaikovsky Masterclass Concert. He also directed the Walnut Valley Symphony and Master Chorale in a holiday solstice celebration on Saturday, December 28 in Walnut, California and presented the world-premiere concert of the newly formed Nové Deypalan Singers on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena, CA. Nové is founder and music director of the Walnut Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Walnut Valley Master Chorale, as well as music director at St. Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Walnut, CA.
Aurelien Eulert GCRT ’09, DMA candidate, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Aurelien will be Palm Beach Opera’s Head Coach for the Young Artists Program and on Music Staff for its main stage production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman in March 2014.
Gal Faganel ’03, MM ’05, DMA ’07, Cello Performance
Gal, assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado, recently joined the faculty at Rocky Ridge Music Center. During the five-week long Young Artist Seminar, he climbed Longs Peak (the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park) and performed a concert at 14,259 feet.
Chenny Gan DMA ’09, Piano Performance
Chenny has been appointed as Assistant Professor for Piano and Collaborative Piano at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.
Deborah How PhD ’09, Historical Musicology
Deborah is cofounder and CEO of a new music innovation and technology corporation, BRAVURA innovations. Social Music Works, a division of BRAVURA innovations, has just launched the first International Video Upload Competition 2014 – Piano, which will explore the global accessibility and community building of music making through the use of social media.
Eric Jasper GCRT ’08, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Eric was awarded an Emmy on November 3 by the Chicago/Midwest affiliate of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) for his original score for the documentary Skokie: Invaded but Not Conquered. The film was also recognized that evening as Best Historical Documentary. Skokie: Invaded but Not Conquered examines the personalities and issues connected to the attempted neo-Nazi March in Skokie in the late 1970s and reveals how a debate over First Amendment rights inspired Holocaust survivors to become activists. Jasper’s work and the film will air nationally on PBS affiliates across the country in April 2014.
Nikhil Korula ’01, Vocal Arts Performance
Nikhil and his band opened for Gavin Degraw at Summerfest 2013. He also released an EP titled Solo Sessions which he recorded with Dave Matthews Band members Butch Taylor and Jeff Coffin. One of the songs, “Fade Away,” is now #10 on the Hot AC charts.
Bob Lydecker ’08, Composition, GCRT ’09, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Bob is co-composer for Fox Television’s new show, “Sleepy Hollow.”
Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
Bear earned his first Emmy Award on September 15, 2013 for the Main Title Theme for Da Vinci’s Demons at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California. Bear is the composer for the ABC pilot for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Michael Mollo GCRT ’07, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Michael recently scored Capcom’s Strider.
Andrew Norman ’02, Piano Performance, MM ’04, Composition
Andrew will join the USC Thornton School of Music faculty as Assistant Professor of Composition in Fall 2013.
Tish Oney DMA ’07, Jazz Studies
Tish was selected to perform with Symphoria, Central New York’s newest symphony orchestra, as their 2013 Holiday Pops vocalist on a four-city tour throughout Central New York in December 2013. The final concert of the tour occurred at the 2,200-seat Crouse-Hinds Concert Hall at the OnCenter to a sold-out audience. Tish was also honored by University of South Carolina as a Winter Scholar for her research project, the development of two nationally-touring symphony concerts, one of which she premiered with Symphoria in December. A touring Blujazz recording artist, she also performed two artist showcases at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in January as part of the Two Great Days In the Harlem Suite all-star jazz lineup featuring many of the greatest jazz artists touring today. Tish currently serves as Coordinator for Commercial Music, Director of Jazz Studies, Director of Vocal Studies and Director of Choral Activities at University of South Carolina Upstate.
Derek Polischuk ’01, MM ’04, DMA ’06, Piano Performance
Derek released his debut CD with Blue Griffin Recording, titled, “Terra Incognita.”
Kate Prestia-Schaub MM ’03, Flute Performance
Kate released her debut CD, Timeless.
Richard Sears ’09, Jazz Studies
Richard premiered a work commissioned by the Los Angeles Jazz Society to honor and feature legendary jazz drummer Tootie Heath on Sunday, October 6, 2013.
Sungmin Shin ’09, Classical Guitar Performance
As part of the Eastman Guitar Quartet, Sungmin will perform at the Guitar Foundation of America 2014 Convention & Competition in Fullerton, California this June. The quartet will perform a piece composed by fellow Thornton alumnus Ian Krouse MM ’86, DMA ’88, composition. Sungmin has also been appointed as a guitar instructor at the University at Buffalo Department of Music.
Audrey Solomon MM ’04, GCRT ’06, Violin Performance
Audrey was one of the violinists for the rock group Rush’s Clockwork Angels album and tour.
Ethan Sperry MM ’98, DMA ’00, Choral Music
Ethan received the Conductor’s Award for the most artistic repertoire choices for the Portland State Chamber Choir at the 52nd Annual Seghizzi International Choral Competition. Additionally, the Portland State Chamber Choir won the Seghizzi Grand Prix 2013 (which no American choir has ever done in the 52 years of the competition), along with top honors in the categories of 19th century music, spiritual music, and best choreography.
John Storie ’06, Studio/Jazz Guitar Performance, Perry Smith ’05, Studio/Jazz Guitar Performance, and Jeff Stein ’11, Music
Thornton alumni ensemble New West Guitar Group – John Storie, Perry Smith, and Jeff Stein – will release “Big City” on Summit Records on September 10. This album marks their 5th release as a group. The album includes originals and arrangements of songs from Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, The Police, and Tears for Fears. This summer, New West Guitar Group is also collaborating with Concord Records artist Spencer Day, Chicago guitarist Fareed Haque, and the California Guitar Trio at concerts along the west coast and midwest U.S.
Julia Yu-Ying Tai ’02, Vocal Arts Performance, MM ’04, Choral Music
Julia will make her conducting debut with the Seattle Symphony in March 2014 in their Celebrate Asia concert. After receiving her DMA from the University of Washington in Orchestral Conducting, Tai founded the Seattle Modern Orchestra and is the music director of Philharmonia Northwest.
John Whitener MM ’95, DMA ’07, Music Education
Dr. John Whitener, Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Music Program and Associate Professor of Practice in Music Education at USC Thornton, served as a guest lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the China Conservatory in Beijing, and the Xi’an Conservatory. Dr. Whitener also traveled to Ulaan-Bataar, Mongolia to meet with officials from the Mongolian College of Music and Dance and administrators of public school music.
Richard Bernstein ’90, Vocal Arts Performance
Richard made his Wagnerian debut as Daland in The Flying Dutchman.
Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Peter will release the second recording of his music in Naxos’ American Classics Series, featuring his Symphony No. 1 and four other works, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under his direction. The CD will be released on February 25.
Timothy Emmons MM ’96, Jazz Studies
Timothy has been hired to teach double bass at Pasadena City College. He has also been appointed Principal Double Bass with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra.
Christina Linhardt ’97, Vocal Arts Performance
Christina received a Hollywood Fame Award for Best Documentary 2013 for her documentary, “Guantanamo Circus,” which she produced, wrote, directed, and scored.
Lansing McLoskey MM ’92, Composition
Lansing released two CDs this month: a monograph CD titled, “Specific Gravity: Chamber Music by Lansing McLoskey” and “The Unheard Music,” featuring his concerto for brass quintet and wind ensemble What We Do is Secret. McLoskey also recently received a prestigious Barlow Commission for a new work for Ensemberlino Vocale, a professional chamber choir based in Berlin, as well as a commission from Berlin PianoPercussion for 2014. In summer 2013 he was a guest composer at the Tanglewood Institute, lectured at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, and had works performed at music festivals in Finland, Mexico, Spain, and Columbia. McLoskey is currently an Associate Professor at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
Kathleen Roland-Silverstein MM ’96, DMA ’97, Vocal Arts Performance
Kathleen released her book, “Romanser: 25 Swedish Songs, with Guide to Swedish Lyric Diction” in January 2014 through Gehrmans Musikförlag, Scandinavia’s foremost music publishing house. The book is an anthology of art song in Swedish, especially created for the English or American classical singer wishing to expand their performance repertoire. Dr. Roland-Silverstein is a Fulbright senior scholar, and a grantee from the American Scandinavian Foundation.
Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
The Greg Reitan Trio – Greg Reitan ’96 on piano, Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, jazz studies, on bass, and Dean Koba MM ’93, jazz studies, on drums – performed at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Greg was featured in a new profile article, “The Shape of Jazz to Come” in a special issue of Dwell Magazine. The Greg Reitan Trio also performed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Blue Whale.
Emerson Swinford MM ’92, Guitar Performance
Emerson recently joined Rod Stewart’s band and is touring as the lead guitarist. Emerson also co-wrote two songs on Rod’s latest CD, Time.
Robert Thies ’93, MM ’95, Piano Performance
Robert performed Schubert’s Winterreise with baritone Ryan McKinny. His upcoming performances include Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Piano and Cello and Strauss’ Sonata for Piano and Cello with cellist Andrew Schulman on Sunday, March 2, and a solo piano recital at Ventura College on Monday, March 3 for their Music Exposed series. Robert also performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 with the San Luis Obispo Symphony on February 1 to a sold-out hall and received a standing ovation. One reviewer wrote, “His no-nonsense manner and passion revealed sensitivity and power, and a lyricism fully emerged. His performance prompted the audience to give Thies one of the longest, loudest standing ovations I’ve heard in my years.” He will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 with the Bakersfield Symphony on April 12 in celebration of John Farrer’s final season with the orchestra. Recently, Robert recorded Sonata for Cello and Piano, which was written by USC Thornton faculty Bruce Broughton ’67, Composition, for fellow USC cello faculty Andrew Shulman. He has many upcoming performances in the Los Angeles area, and you can find this information on his website: www.robertthies.org.
Michael Timpson ’92, Composition
Michael was appointed Associate Professor of Music Composition at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea in 2010.
David Viscoli MM ’89, DMA ’92, Piano Performance
David was recently awarded the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he is currently a Professor of Piano.
Rod Gilfry MM ’83, Vocal Arts Performance
Vocal arts and opera faculty Rod Gilfry performed the role of Howard K. Stein in the opera “Anna Nicole” with the New York City Opera in September 2013.
Robert G. Hasty ’86, Music Education
Robert is Associate Director of Orchestras at the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University and was recently appointed Music Director of the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin. The great success of Dr. Hasty’s inaugural season with the KSO continues as he prepares to launch his second season in October 2013. Dr. Hasty has also joined the International Schools Choral Music Society as Artistic Director of the orchestra program with a February 2013 performance in Busan, South Korea and an upcoming February 2014 festival in Beijing, China.
Clement Reid MM ’80
Clement was commissioned by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra to write an orchestral work for their Nordic Nights program, and the piece, Northern Lights premiered on April 27, 2013 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien, WA, near Seattle. Anthony Spain directed the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Clement’s Northwest Fanfare opened the fall orchestral season on October 15, 2013 at Pacific Lutheran University with Jeffrey Bell-Hanson conducting.
Ken Camarella ’63, MM ’74, Music
Ken and his wife Nancy were honored by the Arrowheads Arts Association (AAA) at their annual gala fundraising dinner on July 1, 2013. The couple was lauded for 15 years of dedication to helping AAA’s mission of “Bringing the Magic of Music to the Mountains.” Under Ken’s leadership, AAA began providing string instruction to the mountain children in 2000. For the last 13 years, AAA has sponsored an average of 100 students per year in the instruction of violin, viola and cello, cultivating not only better performers, but also better citizens.
Joan RuBane DMA ’77, Piano Performance
Joan announced the 8th season of International Classical Concerts, a chamber music series held at the Rancho Mirage Public Library in Rancho Mirage, California. The first concert will be on January 25, 2014 and will feature Joyce Yang, Van Cliburn Silver Medalist. Future concerts will feature Augustin Hadelich, Indianapolis Violin Competition Gold Medalist, the Parisii String Quartet from Paris, cellist Sergei Antonov, Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medalist, and the Hermitage Piano Trio from Russia.
Nick Strimple MM ’73, Sacred Music, DMA ’76, Choral Music
Professor Strimple lectured on 19th and 20th century French choral music as part of the Summer Choral Festival at Cal State University Los Angeles on July 23. On August 22, Professor Strimple conducts the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, with British organist Iain Farrington, in a concert honoring the Bar Mitzvah of the great-grandson of composers Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl. Sponsored by the Schoenberg family, the concert will take place at Sinai Temple, Los Angeles. Repertoire includes Zeisl’s “Requiem Eabraico” and “Songs for the Daughter of Jeptha” as well as Schoenberg’s “Kol Nidre” and the opening scene and entr’act of “Moses and Aron.”
Larry Zalkind ’77, MM ’79, Trombone Performance
Larry was recently appointed Associate Professor of Trombone at Eastman School of Music beginning fall 2014. Since 1981, Larry has been the principal trombonist of the Utah Symphony and a faculty member at the University of Utah and the Grand Teton Festival. He has performed with numerous other symphonies including Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Atlanta; and he has been a member of the Summit Brass since 1990. Larry pursued doctoral work at the University of Michigan.
Walt Farrier ’60, MM ’62
Walt was honored at a concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem, Oregon. Over 100 performers presented a concert entirely of music written or arranged by Walt.
Kenneth Klein ’63, Violin Performance, and Gerald Robbins ’68, Piano Performance
Kenneth and Gerald recorded a live performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Gerald as soloist and Kenneth as conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic, and is featured in the opening scene for the 2013 Lee Daniels film “The Butler,” whose cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and John Cusack.
Kenneth Lowenberg MM ’66, Composition
Kenneth is composer of “Gregorian Preludes for the Liturgical Year,” a collection of 10 organ solos, which was recently released by GIA Publishers.
Jack Miller MM ’68, Music
Jack prepared the 4th Bravo Bach Festival in September. The festival involved six concerts at three venues featuring Sacramento State Early Music Ensemble, Camerata Capistrano, Archetti Baroque String Ensemble, Joe Gilman Jazz Trio, The Guidonian Hand Trombone Quartet with organist Rhonda Edgington Sider, and guitarist Antoniy Kakamakov.