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 2014. To submit your own alumni accomplishment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benjamin Adler MM ’14, Clarinet
Benjamin was one of three winners in the National Repertory Orchestra’s general concerto competition.
Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia received the opportunity for the New York Philharmonic to perform one of her pieces, Dark Sand, Sifting Light, in concert. Dark Sand, Sifting Light was inspired by Julia’s experiences living in a city. Visit Julia’s website here.
The Argus Quartet — which consists of Thornton alumni Jason Issokson MM ’11, violin, Diana Wade GCRT ’13, viola, and current DMA violin student Clara Kim — was awarded a commission by Chamber Music America, a national network for ensemble musicians. For the commission, the quartet enlisted the work of fellow alumnus Eric Guinivan MM ’08, DMA ’11, composition.
Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10, Harp
Alison was recently invited to lecture at the Stockholm Brain Institute and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Alison spoke on her research of how playing an instrument protects against developing dementia later in life. She was also interviewed by National Geographic about how music may have a profound and lasting impact on the brain. Read the full article here.
Charissa Barger MM ’13, Harp
Charissa released her debut album, Dreams of Love: Music for Solo Harp on August 1. The debut release concert will be held on August 24 at St. Luke’s Garden Concerts at Rolling Hills Estates, California. Visit Charissa’s website here.
Kate Belshé MM ’13, Choral Music
Kate was appointed conductor of the Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir in Israel. Visit Kate’s website here.
Ben Bram ’10, Music Industry and Scott Hoying, Popular Music
Ben and Scott received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for their work with Pentatonix. The a cappella group, which formed in 2011 and came to prominence by winning the third season of NBC’s The Sing-Off, has been nominated for “Daft Punk,” a fresh, comprehensive track from their album, PTX, Vol. 2.
Lauren Buckley MM ’08, DMA ’12, Choral Music
Lauren has been named Interim Director of the University of California Irvine Chamber Singers. Lauren is the new Classic Worship Director of the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.
Jack Cimo ’11, Classical Guitar
Jack and the Los Angeles Duo finish their 2 1/2 week cross-country tour called “Licks on Route 66” on Friday, August 8 at 8:00 pm at Gallery 1548 in Downtown Los Angeles. Follow Jack’s adventures on his website.
William Cravy ’14, Double Bass
William was selected as a performing apprentice for the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra (NAC) as part of the orchestra’s Institute for Orchestral Studies.
A. Phoenix Delgado ’02, MM ’04, DMA ’13, Flute and Conducting
Dr. A. Phoenix Delgado conducted the New Valley Symphony Orchestra during its Opening Gala Concert with guest artist mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman on November 1, 2014. The concert featured a selection of beloved opera favorites.
Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Grant was one of the 12 internationally selected applicants to participate in the ASCAP TV & Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis. He also composed the score for the film “My Dear Americans,” which won first place in the 2014 PBS Online Film Festival. Grant worked as a copyist and orchestrator for the upcoming “Titanic LIVE” premiering at Royal Albert Hall in London, Spring 2015. He received two commissions for concert works premiering in the Greater Los Angeles area on December 2014 and was requested by the University of Missouri-Columbia to have his award-winning Redemption Rising for percussion ensemble played at the 68th Annual Midwest Clinic as a featured piece on the program by the University of Missouri-Columbia Percussion Ensemble (directed by Dr. Julia Gaines).
Barry Harris ’13, Popular Music
Barry produced the annual Recording Academy holiday card single. The song “This Time Of Year” was written and performed by Annie Dingwall ’13, popular music. Proceeds from the single’s sales benefit the GRAMMY Foundation which curates GRAMMY Camp. Barry and Annie are both GRAMMY Camp alumni. The single was also co-produced by current student Nolan Frank ’15, popular music. Visit Barry’s website here.
David Holben DMA ’11, Tuba
David held a recital titled, “Octubafest III,” on Sunday, October 12, where he performed works for tuba and cimbasso. The concert took place at St. Peter’s by the Sea Presbyterian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. David also had a recital at the Jacobs School of Music on Friday, May 23, where he performed the premiere of Push for tuba and piano, composed by Eric Guinivan MM ’08, DMA ’11, composition; a tuba trio entitled Dué Pezzi Perpetua and composed by Brian Kehlenbach DMA ’91, composition; and Sven-David Sandström’s Zephyr. All of the pieces were commissioned, edited, and published by David’s Holben Publishing.
Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Thomas received the 2014 Hermitage Prize given by the Hermitage Artist Retreat and its partner the Aspen Music Festival and School during this renowned summer event. The award is given annually to a composition student participating in the summer program at the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies with the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. Visit Thomas’ website here.
Lesley Leighton MM ’91, Vocal Arts, DMA ’12, Choral Music
Lesley joins the UCLA Department of Music as Lecturer and Director of UCLA Chorale and UCLA Chamber Singers for 2014-15.
Andrew Lowy MM ’13, Clarinet
Andrew was recently awarded the position of second E-flat clarinet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Vincent Meklis ’14, Violin
Vincent performed in the Netherlands this past summer as part of the International Holland Music Sessions. Vincent is continuing his studies and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate under USC Thornton Distinguished Professor Midori Goto.
Troy Quinn DMA ’14, Choral Music
Troy was named the first featured conductor in the Juneau Symphony’s 2014-15 Guest Conductor Concert Series beginning in November 2014. Visit Troy’s website here.
Carlos Rivera MM ’04, DMA ’10, Composition
Carlos recently scored the soundtrack for Universal Pictures’ upcoming release, A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson. Carlos recently signed with agent Amos Newman at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME). Visit Carlos’ website here.
Sarah Rommel GCRT ’14, Violoncello
Sarah won third prize at The George Enescu International Cello Competition in Bucharest, Romania. Sarah also took home the Kronberg Prize from the competition and is a current Masters student studying with Ralph Kirshbaum. Visit Sarah’s website here.
Alexander Singer DMA ’12, Percussion
Alexander recently published an article titled, “The Importance and Process of Working Abroad,” in the July 2014 edition of the premier percussion-related journal, Percussive Notes. Alexander is Assistant Professor of Percussion at Soochow University in China.
Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet
Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet – which features USC Thornton alumni Andrew Boyle ’12, MM ’14, Misha Adair Bigos MM ’14, JJ Kirkpatrick MM ’14, and Gary Wicks MM ’13 – released their debut album in September 2014 via Yarlung Records. The self-titled album was recorded on campus at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute in Camilleri Hall and was praised by The Absolute Sound for its ability to be “relaxed yet focused, tradition-based yet modern, and elegant yet conveying a sure sense of swing.”
Jeremy Tisser GCRT ’12, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Jeremy recently completed his latest feature film score “Actor for Hire,” featuring a jazz quartet and recorded at The Bridge Recording in Glendale, California.
Dale Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
Dale had several of her new works premiered, including: I Am Music performed by Choral Arts Initiative and Pendant que le marin performed by The Princeton Singers. She 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. Dale is the winner of the 2014 Busan Choral Composition Competition in South Korea and will have the world-premiere of Chant for Winter performed by the Korean Ansan City Choir in October 2014. Visit Dale’s website here.
Daniel Weidlein ’12, Jazz Studies and Erik Miron ’09, Humanities (Music)
The Vintage Modernists (consisting of Daniel Weidlein, Erik Miron, and Cameron Hicks) performed at Typhoon Restaurant in Santa Monica on August 5.
David Werfelmann DMA ’14, Composition
David has been appointed assistant professor of music at Webster University, where he will teach music theory and composition in addition to leading the BA in Music program.
Weicheng Zhao MM ’14, current DMA candidate, Organ and Francine Nguyen-Savaria GCRT ’13, Organ
Weicheng and Francine were selected to perform on the Young Artists’ Platform during the Calgary Organ Festival and Symposium in Canada. Visit Francine’s YouTube page here.
The Calder Quartet – originally formed at USC by alumni Benjamin Jacobson ’01, MM ’07, violin, Andrew Bulbrook ’02, on violin, Jonathan Moerschel ’01, MM ’03, viola, and Eric Byers ’03, cello – will kick off their two-year residency at The Broad Stage on October 19. On November the Calder Quartet was joined by fellow alumni Emmy Award-winning composer Bear McCreary ’02 and soprano Melanie Henley Heyn ’04 for two performances.
Alan Chan DMA ’08, Composition
The Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra released their debut album Shrimp Tale on July 15 to rave reviews from AllAboutJazz.com, DownBeat Magazine, New York City Jazz Record and Jazz Weekly. Additionally, the USC Thornton String Quartet will premiere Alan’s piece, “Lotus Land,” inspired by Lee Mullican’s painting, with Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater at the Laguna Dance Festival on September 13. He has been appointed the Director of Jazz Band One and Applied Music Instructor at El Camino College this fall. Visit Alan’s website here.
Louis Cole ’09, Jazz Studies
Louis led his electronic funk-pop duo Knower in a concert at The Edye as part of The Broad Stage’s Under The Radar series on Sunday, October 26. Recently hailed by Flying Lotus as an artist to watch, you can read more about Louis’ time at USC Thornton here.
Colin Davin ’09, Classical Guitar
Colin performed the folk-blues classic “Midnight Special” with GRAMMY Award-winning contemporary opera singer Jessye Norman on the Late Show with David Letterman on November 20. Visit Colin’s website here.
Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové, along with USC Thornton faculty and alumnus Michael Powers MM ’05, conducting, organized the highly anticipated 2014 Los Angeles Conducting Workshop, a project of the Pasadena Arts Council EMERGE Program. The masterclass will be led by Maestro Kenneth Kiesler, Director of Orchestras at the University of Michigan, and will take place at the Pasadena City College Center for the Performing Arts on August 11-15. A select group of 12 conductor fellows will lead the workshop orchestra in a final concert at USC’s Bovard Auditorium on Saturday, August 16.
Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Karim will have “Orbit: A Symphonic Fantasy” performed by the Orchestra Northern Arizona on October 18 as part of their space-themed concert in support of the Dark Skies Festival. The orchestra will be conducted by former principal horn of the London Symphony Orchestra, David Cripps, who performed first horn on all six Star Wars movies. As part of the festival, Karim will conduct talks about music and astronomy at Lowell Observatory, and at four local high schools during the week. “Orbit: A Symphonic Fantasy” is heard hourly at the California Science Center (permanent home of the Space Shuttle Endeavor) and took part in the NASA JPL Curiosity birthday celebration last year. Karim’s piece was first premiered in November 18, 2012 by then-USC Thornton faculty member, the late David Weiss and the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra. Visit Karim’s website here.
Ross Garren ’08, Composition
Ross is one of the 4 composers selected to participate in the 2014 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab – Documentary at Skywalker Sound. The program brings select composers, sound designers, and directors together to explore the collaborative process of designing a soundtrack for film. Ross is a Los Angeles-based pianist, harmonicist, and composer. In addition to an active freelance career, he has released numerous solo records, has written music featured on a number of television shows, and has served on staff at the Musician’s Institute.
Ryan Lerman ’09, Studio/Jazz Guitar
Ryan is currently the music director and guitarist for GRAMMY Award-winning artist John Legend’s “All of Me” tour. Fellow USC Thornton alumnus Rodney Wirtz MM ’04, viola, is also part of the orchestra for the world-wide tour. Visit Ryan’s website here.
Bob Lydecker ’08, Composition, GCRT ’09, Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television
Robert was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music – 2014” for the television show Sleepy Hollow.
The Lyris Quartet — which consists of Thornton alumni Luke Maurer ’02, MM ’05, viola, and Timothy Loo ARTD ’03, cello —performed at the opening of Jacaranda’s 2014-2015 season with guest pianist and fellow alumnus Steven Vanhauwaert MM ’06, GCRT ’08, piano. Visit the Lyris Quartet’s website here.
Deidre Moore ’03, Harp minor
Deidre produced and released “Holy Water” with her band Whiskey Sunday. They have been featured in Celtic Music Magazine and will be part of the Get Shamrocked Festival in Murrieta in September among some of the biggest Irish rock groups in the world. Deidre has been featured in iPhone, Hallmark, and Chevy commercials as a harpist, as well as a number of television shows. Follow Whiskey Sunday by liking their Facebook page.
New West Guitar Group
Thornton alumni ensemble New West Guitar Group – John Storie ’06, studio/jazz guitar, Perry Smith ’05, studio/jazz guitar, and Jeff Stein ’11, music – will be performing with Thornton alumna and faculty member Sara Gazarek ’04, jazz studies, during the month of October on a tour of the west coast. New West Guitar Group also releaseed “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.
Gretchen Parlato GCRT ’03, Jazz Studies
Gretchen received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. The first vocalist to be admitted to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Gretchen recently released the GRAMMY-nominated album Live in NYC.
Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman MM ’97, DMA ’04, Piano
Nadia released a new CD titled, “Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013.” The recording features commissions from four distinguished American composers, including fellow USC Thornton alumnus Tom Flaherty DMA ’93, composition. Nadia is currently Associate Professor of Music at Cal Poly Pomona University and Adjunct Professor of Music at Claremont Graduate University. Visit Nadia’s website here.
John Storie ’06, Studio/Jazz Guitar
John was featured twice in the New York Times for his performances with actor Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Jazz Orchestra at their recent engagement at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. Favorable reviews of the show were also written in the New York Post and Wall Street Journal. John performs with Jeff at their weekly residency in Los Angeles at Rockwell Table and Stage.
Jeffrey Welsh MM ’09, Saxophone
Jeffrey recently joined the Shevin Law Group in Los Angeles as an Attorney, as well as the William Morris Endeavor Agency in Beverly Hills as an assistant to the Legal Department in the Entertainment Group.
Austin Wintory ’07, Composition
Austin conducted the orchestra of The Third Estate in a concert titled Mythos, a showcase of great music from across the spectrum of modern orchestral genres—music from Modern Concert Works, Video Games, TV & Film. All of the music has been composed in the last several years, and will be performed without pause. Mythos took place on October 6, 2014 and was part of the first annual New York Super Week festival, four days before New York Comic Con 2014. Visit Austin’s website here.
Kayla Wong MM ’06, Piano
Kayla recently released her debut CD, Allure, which was recorded at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Canada. In addition to being an independent recording artist, she has also performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Hong Kong. She has previously served as Principal Keyboardist at the Prince George Symphony Orchestra in Canada. Visit Kayla’s website here.
Paul Young MM ’06, DMA ’09, Jazz Studies
USC Thornton faculty and director of the Music Industry Minors program Paul Young was selected as one of this year’s recipients of the 2014 Steven B. Sample Teaching & Mentoring Award. The award honors faculty members who have been nominated by parents and is given during the USC Trojan Family Weekend.
Christoph Bull MM ’93, Organ
Christoph joined USC Thornton organ studies faculty Cherry Rhodes and an elite group of organists in concert as they celebrated the anniversary of the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s famous organ, “Hurricane Mama” on Sunday, November 23. Visit Christoph’s website here.
Tracy Carr DMA ’94, Oboe
Dr. Tracy Carr has recently been promoted to Professor of Double Reeds at Eastern New Mexico University. She also serves as Professor of Music History at ENMU. Tracy is a founding member of Trio Encantada and is active as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, clinician, and adjudicator.
Carlos Marquez MM ’96, Piano
Carlos has received over one million plays in his SoundCloud page over the last 2 years. He has recently released “Stephan Beneking: 10 Nocturnes – 12 Valkyries,” his third album dedicated to piano music of the contemporary German composer.
Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
Greg released his new album Post No Bills (Sunnyside Records) and received a glowing review in The Buffalo News. His trio (comprised of fellow Thornton jazz alumni Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, on bass, and Dean Koba MM ’93, on drums) will perform at the Blue Whale on Thursday, September 11. Greg was featured in a new profile article, “The Shape of Jazz to Come” in a special issue of Dwell Magazine. Visit Greg’s website here.
Tess Remy-Schumacher MM ’89, DMA ’98, Violoncello
Tess co-founded the first Center for Historical Performance at the University of Central Oklahoma with Dr. Ted Honea. Tess is Professor of Music at the University of Central Oklahoma and previously spent two years at Harvard University as a Visiting Fellow Performance and Scholar. Visit Tess’s website here.
George Stamatakis ’98
George released VITALtuner for iPhone and iPad through his Los Angeles-based company, Otreus. Otreus has released acclaimed hit apps StudioMini in 2009 and StudioMini XL in 2011, multi-track recorder apps for iPhone and iPad.
Leland Sun ’86, MM ’91, Piano
Leland will perform in a retrospective of works by fellow USC Thornton alumnus Ren-Liang Wong MM ’83, composition, at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music in Tianjin, China on November 12. This concert will feature works written following the composer’s immigration to the United States including Six Sketches (1983), which Sun premiered at USC, a piano transcription by Sun of Wong’s Tone Poem (1991), and two works for string quartet to be performed by the Tianjin Conservatory’s resident quartet.
Anthony Tobin MM ’92, Piano
Anthony was recently named a Steinway Artist. His Spring 2014 recitals included performances in Arosa, Austin, and Davos and concluded in June with an all-Debussy performance on one of Claude Debussy’s own pianos in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France. His August 27th all-Mozart recital in Zurich, Switzerland will be performed on a pianoforte.
Grant Gershon ’85, Piano
The Los Angeles Times commended Thornton alumnus and Board of Councilors member Grant Gershon ’85, artistic director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and resident conductor of LA Opera, for the Master Chorale’s performance of a celebrated composition by USC Distinguished Professor Morten Lauridsen ’66, MM ’68, DMA ’74, composition, titled “O Magnum Mysterium.” The article featured a review of the Music Center’s 50th Anniversary Spectacular.
William Kanengiser ’81, MM ’83, Classical Guitar
USC Thornton faculty William Kanengiser was recently featured in an educational video for Classical Guitar Tone Production. Fellow Thornton alumnus and chair of the classical guitar program Brian Head MM ’91, guitar, provided the narration for the video.
Tina Karen Lo ’82, Classical Guitar
Tina will perform at Wadham College at the University of Oxford this fall on September 28 with Nathan Vale, tenor. Tina also performed a concert with violinist Andrea Zanchetta on June 14 titled “French Musical Miniatures” as part of the Le French May 2014 in Hong Kong.
Diane Wittry ’83, Music Education, MM ’85, Conducting
Diane was recently featured as the conductor for the final concert of the LianHua Hill Grass Music Festival in Shenzhen, China with the USA-based Pizazz Symphony Orchestra. She received the National Achievement Service Award from the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts and Sciences (BHAAAS) on October 11 for her work with the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians with the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. Diane’s latest book, Baton Basics – Communicating Music through Gestures, will be released on November 1, 2014. Diane is Music Director-Conductor of the Allentown Symphony, which was recently awarded First Prize in the national “American Prize 2014” in the Professional Orchestra category. Diane is the new Artistic Director of the Ridgewood Symphony which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary Season. The first concert took place on October 25. Visit Diane’s website here.
Billy Childs ’79, Composition
Billy received three GRAMMY nominations for the album Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, including Best Jazz Vocal Album. He was also nominated for Best American Roots Performance for the track, “And When I Die,” and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for the song, “New York Tendaberry” featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas. Billy previously won three separate GRAMMY awards for instrumental composition and arrangement.
Harold Daugherty MM ’67, DMA ’76, Church Music
Harold wrote an article published by the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal on John LaMontaine’s trilogy of Christmas operas.
Morten Lauridsen ’66, MM ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
USC Distinguished Professor of Composition and USC Thornton School of Music alumnus Morten Lauridsen was the subject of a recent day-long festival held at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church in Toronto, Canada. Visit Professor Lauridsen’s website here.
Lisa Donovan Lukas ’78
Lisa published her first book, The Young Musician’s Guide to Songwriting: How to Create Music and Lyrics (For Music Students and Teachers), an Amazon Bestseller in Music Composition/Songwriting. Visit Lisa’s website here.
Thomas Newman, Composition
USC Thornton Board of Councilors member and six-time GRAMMY Award-winner Thomas Newman received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for the feature film, Saving Mr. Banks. Tom has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards and three Golden Globes.
Kenneth Lowenberg MM ’66, Composition
Kenneth has been named Organist at National City Christian Church. In 2006, Ken retired after 38 years as full-time Minister of Music (Organist-Choirmaster) at the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. A collection of Ken’s solo organ music, “Gregorian Preludes for the Liturgical Year,” was recently published by GIA Music Publishers. Visit Kenneth’s website here.
Royce Saltzman DMA ’64, Choral Music
Royce will be awarded the Robert Shaw Award, which is presented to a choral leader who has made significant contributions to the art of choral music, at the 2015 ACDA National Conference. Royce was nominated for his outstanding contributions for the forming and leadership of the Oregon Bach Festival. View Royce’s bio here.
Albert McNeil MM ’56, Music Education
Dr. Albert McNeil received the Howard Swan Award from the American Choral Directors Association (CA) for distinguished service to the profession on July 27, 2014.