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Thornton Alumni Association

Alumni Accomplishments

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 2015. To submit your own accomplishments, please email alumni@thornton.usc.edu or 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.

Daniel Allas ’15, Composition
Daniel premiered a new work, smear’d, with the wild Up ensemble as part of the Next on Grand festival of contemporary American music and dance on May 30. Daniel was a participant of the LA Philharmonic’s first National Composer’s Intensive, which was also attended by USC Thornton composition graduates Emily Cooley MM ’14 and Patrick O’Malley MM ’15 under the guidance of a faculty which included USC Thornton lecturer Sean Friar. Visit Daniel’s website here.

Daniel Allas ’15, Composition, Saad Haddad ’14, Composition, and Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Daniel Allas, Saad Haddad, Patrick O’Malley participated in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Composer Institute 2015 in November. Saad and Patrick were also chosen to be part of the Columbus Symphony Happy Hour Concert Series which took place on October 29.

Bill Alves MM ’86, DMA ’90, Composition
Bill recently released his new album Guitars & Gamelan on MicroFest Records. Bill is chair of the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. Visit Bill’s website here.

Argus Quartet
The Argus Quartet, which includes three Thornton alumni – Clara Kim DMA ’15, violin, Jason Issokson MM ’10, violin, and Diana Wade GCRT ’13, viola – has been appointed quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music.

Esther Armendariz ’13, Trombone
Esther recently won the position of Associate Principal Trombone with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.

Thomas Bähler ’66, Trumpet
Thomas was one of four alumni honored by the USC Alumni Club of New York at their 6th annual Tommy Awards ceremony. The awards celebrate outstanding alumni for their extraordinary contributions to the cultural, philanthropic and business communities of New York City. Visit Thomas’ website here.

Timur Bekbosunov GCRT ’06
Timur was interviewed by PRI’s The World with Marco Werman, where he shared about his new album with his band Timur and the Dime Museum and their upcoming shows at BAM in September. Visit Timur’s website here.

Laura Brenes MM ’02, Horn
Laura recently released her debut album, a Time and a Place which features original music composed for her by fellow Thornton alumni Bear McCreary ’02, composition, Daniel James Chan GCRT ’08, SMPTV, Chris Bacon GCRT ’05, SMPTV, and Damian Montano MM ’02, bassoon. Visit Laura’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.

Calder Quartet
The Calder Quartet – originally formed at USC by alumni Benjamin Jacobson ’01, MM ’07, Andrew Bulbrook ’02, Jonathan Moerschel ’01, MM ’03, and Eric Byers ’03 – will be performing at the Kennedy Center Terrace on Sunday, February 28.

Terry Carter MM ’02, Guitar
Terry released a new app titled Rock Like the Pros, which instructs users on how to be a better guitar player, ukulele player, and musician. Visit Terry’s website here.

Alan Chan DMA ’08, Composition
Alan was selected as the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation and Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s George Duke Commissioning Prize. In addition to receiving the $10,000 prize, Alan will also write a new work for the ensemble for the 2016-17 season. Visit Alan’s website here.

Austin Chanu ’15, Composition
Austin was commissioned by the Prescott Jazz Summit to compose a big band piece titled, “A Day with L&L.” Austin conducted the premiere of “A Day with L&L” on August 29. He also had “18.1 Miles to Your Destination” premiered on the same day, which was chosen as part of the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra’s Emerging Young Jazz Composers Competition.

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.

Michael Couper DMA ’12, Saxophone
Michael was a finalist for the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. Michael was the only wind player selected for the finals, and one of only seven soloists. He is currently visiting faculty at CSU San Bernardino. Visit Michael’s website here.

Will Cravy ’14, MM candidate, Double Bass
Will was awarded 3rd Place in the 2016 Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition, and received second prize in the 30th Annual Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition, which was judged by members of the LA Phil. He also advanced to the finals for the 2016 Jefferson International Young Artists Competition and was awarded 2nd place in the 2015 Aspen Music Festival Low Strings Competition.

Brandon Davis, MM ’13, DMA candidate, Tuba
Brandon received the 2015-16 Tommy Johnson Tuba Scholarship, a scholarship that honors the legacy of fellow Thornton alumnus and former faculty member Tommy Johnson ’56.

Margarita Denenburg DMA ’12, Piano
Margarita was featured on the cover of Clavier Companion where she published an article, “Using Video Recording to Improve Your Teaching.” Visit Margarita’s website here.

Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové was recently awarded a Special Commendation Award in the Conducting Masterclass competition with the London Classical Soloists. He also conducted the Nové Deypalan Singers in Bellissima, a concert on September 5 at The Colburn School’s Zipper Hall. Visit Nové’s website here.

Christopher Goodpasture ’11, Piano
Christopher was a gold medalist in the 2015 Seattle International Piano Festival & Competition and won several awards within the Collegiate division. Ashley Hoe ’15, piano, took home the silver medal for the same division.

Reyna Gordon ’01, Vocal Arts
Reyna was recently interviewed by the Nashville Scene for their cover story on a new Program for Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt. Reyna was appointed Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she founded the Music Cognition Lab. She was awarded an NIH NIDCD grant to study the relationship between rhythm skills and language development. Visit Reyna’s website here.

Ian Hallas MM’15, GCRT candidate, Double Bass
Ian recently won a position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

HOCKET
HOCKET, a new music duo featuring composition faculty member Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15 and Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, are preforming a free show at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale on November 21. The program will also feature fellow Thornton alumni Ryan Harper MM ’12 and Emily Cooley MM ’14. HOCKET also recently performed at the Carlsbad Music Festival, where they received rave reviews.

Matt Howard ’12, Percussion
Matt will take a percussion position with the New World Symphony of Miami. Visit Matt’s website here.

Roy Johnston DMA ’75, Clarinet
Roy recently released a biography titled, “Roy K. Johnston: A Life in Sound, Color and Word.” Visit Roy’s website here.

Alexander Kato-Willis MM ’10, DMA ’13, Piano
Alex recently completed a European summer tour where he performed classical improvisation. He was interviewed by Radio France Internationale (RFI) in Paris. Alex is also an Applied Piano Instructor at Cuesta College.

Alison King ’10, Vocal Arts
Alison was a regional winner in the Upper Midwest Region of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She now advances to the National Semi-Finals on The Metropolitan Opera stage on March 6, 2016.

Tristan Xavier 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.

Morten Lauridsen ’66, MM ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
USC Distinguished Professor of Composition and USC Thornton School of Music alumnus Morten Lauridsen was artist-in-residence at the Arcosanti urban laboratory in rural Arizona September 14-19. Visit Professor Lauridsen’s website here.

Cho Eun Lee DMA ’13, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Keyboard Collaborative Arts alumna Cho Eun Lee will join fellow Thornton alumnus Michael Couper DMA ’12, saxophone, for a recital at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York in October 2015.

Gina Luciani MM ’13, Flute, Charissa Barger MM ’13, Harp, and Benjamin Lash MM ’15, Cello
Gina, Charissa, and Benjamin will perform a concert titled, “Classical Remix” featuring Mark de Clive-Lowe at Grand Performances in Los Angeles, CA.

Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
Film composer and alumnus Bear McCreary received an EMMY Award nomination for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) for the series “Outlander.” Bear, who is well known for his scoring of “Battlestar Gallactica” and “The Walking Dead” has previously received two nominations and won an EMMY for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music for “Da Vinci’s Demons.”

Angela Meade MM ’04, Vocal Arts
Angela is performing the title role in Bellini’s “Norma” with the LA Opera. Production runs now until mid-December. Visit Angela’s website here.

Alin Melik-Adamyan ’12, MM ’14, Piano and Pauline Yang ’10, MM ’13, Piano
Alin and Pauline were invited to participate in the 2015 Chamber Music Workshop.

Mark Miller MM ’10, DMA ’13, Trombone
Mark was hired as an Adjunct Professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this upcoming fall. He will also be teaching at Pasadena City College next year. Visit Mark’s website here.

Byron Motley MM ’85, Vocal Arts
Byron will publish a new photo book Embracing Cuba in September. Embracing Cuba contains nearly 200 photographs along with 8 essays, covering images from Byron’s decade of travels to the island. Byron is an award-winning singer, songwriter, filmmaker, lecturer, and photographer. Visit Byron’s website here.

Leo Nestor MM ’75, DMA ’80, Choral Music
Leo received the 2015 Faculty Award for Scholarly Achievements in the Creative Arts from The Catholic University of America. On September 23, Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of Canonization of Blessed Junípero Serra at which Leo will conduct the CUA Chamber Choir and CUA Symphony Orchestra. Leo has been commissioned to compose music for the Mass, the fourth time such an honor has been accorded to him for the visit of a pontiff to the United States.

David Newman ’76, MM ’82, Violin, and Angel Velez MAT ’14
David and Angel announced the inaugural Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive (LAFCI) workshop for January 2016. David and Angel will host workshops on the art of conducting.

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.”

Andrew Norman ’02, Piano, MM ’04, Composition
USC Thornton faculty and alumnus Andrew Norman received rave reviews for the world premiere of his newly commissioned work, “Split.” The piece was performed by the New York Philharmonic with fellow USC Thornton piano faculty member Jeffrey Kahane as the soloist. 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.

Cameron O’Connor DMA ’14, Classical Guitar
Cameron was one of the solo winners of the 2015 Frances Walton Competition. Visit Cameron’s website here.

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. Patrick was also the winner of the 20th Annual Young Composers Competition with his work “Symphonic Poem, Even in Paradise…” With this award, Patrick will receive a professional recording of the performance, which will be considered to be included in the Theodore Presser Company’s rental library. Visit Patrick’s website here.

Lansing McLoskey MM ’92, Composition
Lansing was chosen out of 150 applicants for a 2015 Barlow Commission Award, where he will write works for The Crossing ensemble. He also completed commissions for New Spectrum Foundation and Miranda Cuckson, oboist ToniMarie Marchioni, TAWA Sax, and The Silver Duo. In addition, he had three world premieres, two in Berlin with the Ensemberlino Vocale and Ensemble Berlin PianoPercussion, and one in France at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress. Additionally, he received an Honorable Mention for the 2015 Lydian String Quartet Commission Prize. He was Composer-in-Residence at the 2015 Charlotte New Music Festival, a 2015 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and lectured on his music at Universität der Künste. Visit Lansing’s website here.

Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules was selected to participate in the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive. Taking place in Malibu, the fellows will spend four days conducting with Thornton alumni David Newman ’76, MM ‘82 and Angel Velez MAT ’14. Visit Jules’ website here.

Ben Pila DMA ’11, Classical Guitar
Ben performed for Pope Francis during the pontiff’s September 2015 visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Visit Ben’s website here.

Bruce Polay ’71, Composition
Bruce has led the Knox-Galesburg Symphony to an unprecedented 4th recognition as an Illinois Community Orchestra of the Year (2015), awarded by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. Bruce, three-time recipient of Illinois Conductor of the Year, has guest conducted in Italy, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and has twice been invited to present conducting masterclasses at the famed Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory of the Music, and most recently has offered a combined conducting/composition masterclass in Austria. He is artistic director/conductor of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony and professor of music at Knox College.

Carrie Rexroat MM ’15, Horn
Carrie was 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.

Joan RuBane MM ’67, DMA ’77, Piano
Dr. RuBane, President and Founder of the International Classical Concerts of the Desert, recently announced the 10th anniversary season of the series held at the Rancho Mirage Public Library in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Carrie St. Louis ’12, Vocal Arts
Carrie will be performing in the Broadway production of “Wicked” as Glinda starting February 2. Visit Carrie’s website here.

Benjamin Salisbury MM ’09, DMA ’13, Piano
Benjamin appeared as a soloist with the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose on October 23.

Dr. Royce Saltzman DMA ’63, Church Music
Dr. Saltzman was awarded the International Federation for Choral Music’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Choral Expo in Macau, China on November 14, 2015. Dr. Saltzman served as IFCM’s President for eight years.

Elizabeth Saunders ’95, Vocal Arts
Elizabeth is performing “Charles Ives: Songs in the Key of Z!” with Neely Bruce in concerts around the country. She is a core singer for Anthony Braxton in performances and recordings. Elizabeth recently had co-starring roles in Bravo’s new scripted series, “Odd Mom Out,” and the NYC premiere of the play “Peninsula” at Manhattan Repertory Theatre. Visit Elizabeth’s website here.

Jason Saunders MM ’14, Choral Music
Jason was recently awarded the Washington State ACDA Outstanding Emerging Choral Director Award for 2015. He was also asked to join the Washington ACDA Board of Directors as the Chair for Youth & Student Activities. Visit Jason’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.

Hyejung Shin GCRT ’12, DMA candidate, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Hyejung attended the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.

Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman MM ’97, DMA ’04, Piano
Nadia received three GRAMMY nominations in the categories of Best Classical Compendium, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, and Producer of the Year for her latest album Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013. She recently became a Steinway Artist and performed a solo recital for Piano Spheres at REDCAT at Disney Hall on October 27. Her performance included 3 world premieres by Lewis Spratlan, Annie Gosfield, and Harold Meltzer, as well as works from Woman at the New Piano. 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.

Daniel Silliman ’15, Composition
Daniel was selected for a BMI Student Composer Award for his work, strain, for cello and orchestra. Visit Daniel’s website here.

Michael Staudt DMA ’90, Piano
Michael published a collection of 24 piano etudes, “Bits and Pieces.” The pieces were dedicated to John Perry.

Tyler Stell MM ’12, GCRT ’14, Percussion
Tyler won the position of principal timpani for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Daniel Strychacz MM ’15, Choral Music
Daniel has been appointed as Director of Cantare Children’s Choirs at Cantare Con Vivo in Oakland, CA.

Marek Szpakiewicz MM’01, DMA ’08, Violoncello
Marek will be 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.

T.J. Tesh DMA ’12, Trumpet
T.J. was recently awarded membership in the United States Naval Academy Band, a premier Washington D.C.-based military ensemble. T.J. will perform with the organization’s concert band, jazz ensemble, brass quintet, brass ensemble, and ceremonial units. Visit T.J.’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.

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.

Sergei Vassiliev GCRT ’09, Clarinet
Sergei, who recently became Principal Clarinet for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, was the subject of an article on the orchestra’s website, detailing his youth in the former Soviet Union through to his studies in Los Angeles at USC Thornton and beyond. Visit Sergei’s website here.

Cody Westheimer ’01, Composition
Cody is scoring the California Space Center’s “Journey to Space 3D” film narrated by Patrick Stewart, which opened October 29 and runs through December.

Brad Whitfield MM ’11, Clarinet
Brad recently won the Assistant Principal Clarinet chair with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

Roger Zare ’07, Composition
Roger was one of 10 composers selected for the 2015 Copland House Residency Awards. He also won first prize in the 3rd Senzoku Contemporary Composition Competition for his orchestra composition, Tectonics. The competition was hosted by the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo, Japan. Tectonics was performed by the Senzoku New Philharmonic in April. Visit Roger’s website here.

Contemporary Music

Peter Bradley Adams, SMPTV
SMPTV alumnus Peter Bradley Adams was a featured performer at the Winter Wind Concert which took place on November 22 in Norman, Oklahoma. Vist Peter’s website here.

Brandon Bernstein DMA ’09, Studio Guitar, and Terry Carter MM ’02, Guitar
Brandon and Terry released BandBlast, an innovative music education mobile app, which was featured on Life Connected on NBC Los Angeles on July 5, 2015. Visit Brandon’s website here and Terry’s website here.

Julie Boardman ’04, Music Industry
Julie will produce fellow USC alumnus Forest Whitaker’s highly anticipated Broadway debut in Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie. Performances begin February 8. Visit Julie’s website here.

Jongnic Bontemps GCRT ’12, SMPTV
Jongnic scored for the indie drama film The Land, which will premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Visit Jongnic’s website here.

Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, SMPTV
Peter had his music performed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra this summer. Peter also contributed orchestrations to three of the summer’s biggest box office hits: Jurassic World, Inside Out, and Minions. Visit Peter’s website here.

Bruce Broughton ’67, Composition
SMPTV faculty and alumnus Bruce Broughton received an EMMY Award nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for “Texas Rising.”

Chris de Silva ’02, Composition (Film Scoring)
Chris recently released a new album, titled, Colours (GIA Publications). Visit Chris’s website here.

Kait Dunton DMA ’13, Jazz Studies
Kait announced her upcoming third album, TrioKait, to be released August 6 with a launch at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. trioKAIT includes fellow USC Thornton alumnus Jake Reed MM ’10, DMA ’13, jazz studies, and was featured on JazzTimes on July 20, 2015.

Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV
Karim returned from a residency with the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra in Wayzata, Minnesota, where he spoke about his experience as a composer and his writing process. Additionally, the Symphony preformed his work “Orbit.” He will be working on a new composition called “Earthrise,” where “Orbit” took off. Visit Karim’s website here.

Timothy Emmons MM ’96, Jazz Studies
Timothy celebrated his five year anniversary as Bass/Improvisation instructor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO. Tim is also maintaining teaching positions at CSULA, Azusa Pacific University, Pasadena City College and the University of Redlands where he has been renewed as principal bass with the Redlands Symphony. Visit Timothy’s website here.

Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Grant contributed synth programming to Minions. He also served as MIDI Score Arranger for John Debney on World of Color: Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney at Disney’s California Adventure theme park; in the Music Department for Finding Dory, Bridge of Spies and Spectre. He is currently scoring Down the Fence and was commissioned for a new setting of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus which premiered in Los Angeles, Germany, and Albania this summer. Visit Grant’s website here.

Erik Fong ’01, Music Industry
Erik is a candidate for San Jose City Council District 6. The election will take place June 7, 2016. Visit Erik’s website here.

Ian Gibson ’04, Studio Guitar
Ian was appointed as Director of Law and Finance at UC Irvine Extension. Visit Ian’s website here.

Kathleen Grace MM ’04, Jazz Studies
USC Thornton Jazz Studies faculty member and alumna Kathleen will host a night in tribute to legendary songwriter and Thornton Board of Councilors member Randy Newman on Wednesday, February 10 at the Blue Whale. Visit Kathleen’s website here.

Scott Jeppesen MM ’08, DMA candidate, Jazz Studies
Scott released his second album, “Wonders,” which features fellow Thornton jazz studies alumni Larry Koonse ’84 and Dan Schnelle ’05. Visit Scott’s website here.

Ramesh Kumar Kannan GCRT ’13, SMPTV
SMPTV alumnus Ramesh Kumar Kannan received a nomination for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for his score for the independent film Labyrinth. Visit Ramesh’s website here.

Petar Mandich ’10, Music Industry
Petar was profiled in a LA Weekly feature for his work as a YouTube talent manager. Petar is Chief Talent Officer at ADDITION.

MUNA
MUNA, a trio which includes popular music alumna Katie Gavin ’15, took the top spot in ShortList’s “50 Best Songs of 2015” with their song, “Loudspeaker.”

Tish Oney DMA ’07, Jazz Studies
Tish released her fourth album, “Songs From The Heart.” Visit Tish’s website here.

Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
Greg’s new album Post No Bills (featuring fellow Thornton jazz alumni Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, on bass, and Dean Koba MM ’93, on drums) was recently reviewed by ArtsJournal. The new album continues to receive glowing reviews both in the U.S. and internationally. Visit Greg’s website here.

Jordan Rhyner ’10, Music Industry
Jordan was recently promoted to Coordinator with BMG Rights Management.

Toby Sherriff GCRT ’15, SMPTV
Toby will travel to Zurich, Switzerland in September to score his short film The Control Master, which will be premiered at the Zurich Film Festival. Toby’s music was selected as one of 5 finalists in Forum Filmmusik’s International Film Music Competition. Visit Toby’s website here.

Walter Simonsen MM ’06, DMA ’10, Jazz Studies
Walt was a featured guest on the Jazz Access Podcast, on which he talked about the experience of being a professional jazz musician in Los Angeles and reflected about his time at USC. Walt’s trumpet quintet, Trumpetology, recently released its debut album, This is Trumpetology. The album features fellow Thornton alumni ensemble trioKAIT, which includes jazz studies alumni Kait Dunton DMA ’13 and Jake Reed MM ’10, DMA ’13. Visit Walt’s website here.

Zhe Song GCRT ’15, Violin
Zhe recently won a position with the Spokane Symphony. Visit Zhe’s website here.

Duncan Thum ’06, Guitar, GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Duncan received an EMMY Award nomination for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) for the documentary series “Chef’s Table.” Fellow USC Thornton alumni Tyler Sabbag ’05, Steve Gernes GCRT ’13, Pantawit Kiangsiri GCRT ’13, Sean Sumwalt GCRT ’13, and Dan Blanck ’13 also contributed to the score. 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. Additionally, Jeremy co-wrote the main title of KLCS television series “Composers on Composing” with fellow Thornton alumnus and mentor Mark Watters ’77, saxophone, and was nominated for Best Mobile Game Score at the 2015 Hollywood Music in Media Awards for his score to “Epic Cat Runner.” Visit Jeremy’s website here.

VOX
VOX, a pop opera group consisting of USC Thornton vocal arts alumni David Castillo MM ’13, Arnold Geis MM ’14, and Kevin Blickfeldt DMA ’15, were featured on America’s Got Talent on the July 7, 2015 episode and unanimously advanced to the next round.

Scholarly & Professional Studies

Dee Dee Paakkari ’80, Music Education
Dee Dee received the Grammy Foundation Signature Schools Community Award 2015 on behalf of John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, where she has conducted the symphony orchestra and taught rock music for the past 20 years.

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.

Lorna Zemke MM ’68, DMA ’73, Music Education
Lorna was awarded the International Katalin Forrai Award by the International Kodaly Society (IKS) for her contributions to Early Childhood Music Education. Lorna was formerly the Director of Graduate Music at Silver Lake College in Wisconsin.