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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 great work our alumni are doing around the world.

The list below includes accomplishments submitted since Fall 2017. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia was featured on New York’s WQXR as one of 11 female composers in honor of International Women’s Day. Adolphe spoke about her own influences: composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Paola Prestini, as well as her mother, architect Adrian Grad.

Bill Alves MM ’87, DMA ’91, Composition
Bill wrote a book Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick with Brett Campbell released by Indiana University Press. Bill will curate, present and perform in concerts throughout 2017 including the microtonal festival, MicroFest, as a centennial celebration of Lou Harrison, whom he first met as a USC graduate student.

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.

Argus Quartet
The Los Angeles-based Argus Quartet, which features alumni violinists Jason Issokson MM ’11 and Clara Kim DMA ’15, along with violist Dana Kelley and cellist Joann Whang, was selected as Caramoor’s Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence for 2016-17. On April 2nd, the quartet performed works by the Sleeping Giant composers collective, which includes Thornton faculty members Ted Hearne and Andrew Norman ’02, MM ’04.

Esther Armendariz ’13, Trombone
Esther was named second trombone of the Stockton Symphony in Stockton, CA.

Eva Beneke GCRT ’09, DMA ’12, Classical Guitar
Eva will perform with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, March 11th. The concert will include the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, an “hour-long, 13-part song cycle inspired by poems and illustrations by Nathaniel Bellows.” Visit Eva’s website here.

Richard Bernstein ’89
He has just reached a career milestone with his 400th performance with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Thornton Vocal Arts and Opera alum started with the company in 1995 and since has performed in more than 30 roles.

Erika Binsley ’12, French horn
Erika will be premiering Nick Norton’s Gone to the Other Shore for Wagner Tuba and fixed media electronics on May 7th at DC Horn Day, where she is a featured artist. She also recently won a horn position with the US Naval Academy Band and will begin basic training in June.

Eric Byers ’03
He was one of the three cellists invited to perform last minute at the US premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Cello Concerto. When the original soloist was unable to perform, Byers, along with two other cellists, divided and conquered the solo in three days. Despite the setback, the performance was a success.

Calder Quartet
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 present a program of Schubert, Schoenberg and Cerrone as part of the Colburn Celebrity series at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2017. They also recently performed Morton Feldman’s notorious String Quartet No. 2 at the Met Cloisters museum in New York City. They will also 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.

David Castillo MM ’13
He has been very active with the Los Angeles Philharmonic recently. He performed as a soloist with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel in Bernstein’s Mass from February 1-4. He also performed in the world premiere of Annie Gosfield and Yuval Sharon’s War of the Worlds with the LA Phil in November 2017. In May 2017, he also made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.

Alan Chan DMA ’08, Composition
Alan, winner of the George Duke Commissioning Competition, will premiere his new work during the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Concert on May 7 in Long Beach.

Billy Childs ’79
He was one of the two Thornton graduates to earn a Grammy this past Saturday. Childs earned his award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album with his album Rebirth.

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.

Yejee Choi DMA ’16, Choral Music
Yejee was appointed Interim Director of the Choral Program at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton, California, where she directs the Pacific Singers, the Oriana Women’s Choir, and the University Chorus. She is also the Director of the Stockton Youth Chorale.

Donald Crockett MM ’76, Composition
USC Thornton Composition chair and alumnus Donald Crockett recently visited the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York, where the Argus Quartet is preparing his commissioned string quartet for its July premiere.

Coleman Itzkoff MM ’16, Cello
Cellist Coleman Itzkoff and pianist Alin Melik-Adamyan ’12, MM ’14, piano, who perform as the Amicus Duo, a recently earned top prizes at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition, winning second prize overall and a special prize for best performance of Arthur Gottschalk’s Some Assembly Required.

Colin Davin ’09, Classical Guitar
Colin was recently appointed to the guitar faculty at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

Ronald Davis DMA ’84; Zach Collins MM ’05, DMA ’07; Steve Williams MM ’85
Davis and Collins will perform on the first night of USC Thornton faculty member Jim Self’s recital, which includes a composition by alumnus Steve Williams.

Robert deMaine, Cello
In January 2018, non-degreed alumnus and LA Philharmonic principal cellist Robert deMaine will be featured as soloist with the LA Philharmonic led by conductor Susanna Mälkki in the U.S. premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Concerto for cello and orchestra..

Nové Deypalan MM ’09
Nové will be serving as Guest Conductor of Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Orchestra on March 3, 2018

Albert R. Diaz BA ’10, MM ’12
He has just been given the position of Associate Chair of the Music Department at Walla Walla University in Washington State. Currently a doctoral candidate in musicology at U.C. Los Angeles, Diaz’s research interests include the musical and cultural identities of the Pacific Coast.

Bronte Ficek ’15, Choral Music
Bronte explores the effects of group singing on patients with Parkinson’s Disease in her work as a clinical neuroscience researcher at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. As part of her research, Ficek acts as assistant and accompanist for the Parkisonics, a choir for patients with the condition. She has also devised a rhythmic finger-tapping exercise to help patients improve their motor skills.

Robert Frear MM ’03, Trumpet
Robert was promoted to full Professor of Music at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University Long Beach.

Francisco Fullana GCRT ’15, Violin
He has released a debut album, “Through the Lens of Time,” recorded with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carlos Izcaray. The album is centered on Max Richter’s contemporary reworking of Vivaldi’s iconic Four Seasons and also includes works by Schnittke, Salvador Brotons, and Isang Yun.

Daniel Gee MM ’15, Choral Music
Daniel was recently appointed Conducting Fellow at the Long Beach Symphony, where he will assist incoming Music Director Eckart Preu and other guest conductors throughout the upcoming season.

Grant Gershon ’85, Piano
Grant will conduct LA Opera’s production of The Tales of Hoffmann on April 6th.On April 22, 2017, the USC Alumni Association will honor seven distinguished alumni, including conductor and USC Thornton Board of Councilors member Grant Gershon, at the 84th annual Alumni Awards.

Ross Golan ’01, Music Industry
The 65th Annual BMI Pop Awards honored Ross with the Songwriter of the Year award. One of two recipients of this year’s award, along with co-winner Justin Tranter, he was recognized for his work on Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” Andy Grammer’s “Good to Be Alive,” Flo Rida’s “My House,” and Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love.”

Reyna Gordon ’01, Vocal Arts
Reyna is not the Director of the Music Cognition Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she studies the connections between rhythm and grammar, and how rhythm and music training might help children with atypical language development. She was also featured on NPR for her work.

Jeffrey Grant GCRT ’14, Music Performance
On January 17, several alumni and USC Thornton Percussion faculty celebrated legendary composer Steve Reich’s 80th birthday in a special Green Umbrella concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil). Faculty member James Babor joined alumni Jeffrey Grant, Nick Terry DMA ’11, and Matthew Howard ’12, who is principal percussionist for the LA Phil, in a performance of Reich’s Mallet Quartet. The program also included performances of Reich’s Tehillim and the West Coast premiere of Pulse.

Mak Grgić MM ’12, DMA ’16
Mak, an Artist Diploma candidate in the USC Thornton Classical Guitar program, has released an album, MAKrotonal, which uses especially re-fretted instruments to reexamine standard repertoire and to present newly commissioned works.

Eric Guinivan MM ’08, DMA ’11, Composition
Eric was recently awarded a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University and the Andrew Imbrie Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a composer of demonstrated artistic merit in mid-career.

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.

Lindsey “Link” Harnsberger ’89, Composition
Lindsey recently performed his opera “Golondrina” by the Vineyard Touring Company on May 20th and May 27th. The opera (formerly called “Olvera Street” is about the little-known true story of how the Los Angeles landmark Olvera Street was saved from destruction in the 1920s. Find more info here.

Kevin Hartnett BM ’13
Kevin had his recent choral work De profundis performed by The Zurich Chamber Singers in Zurich, Switzerland. The piece, which was commissioned by the ensemble and premiered in 2016, was also recorded as part of their debut album and will be released by ARS Produktion in 2018.

Vincent Ho DMA ’05, Composition
USC Thornton Composition alumnus, Vincent has been named music advisor for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Visit Vince’s website here.

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.

Andrew Norman ’02, MM ’04,
Composer and USC Thornton faculty member, Andrew Norman, recently debuted his new children’s opera, A Trip to the Moon. It was warmly reviewed in the Los Angeles Times following its U.S premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 2nd at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Matthew Howard ’12, Percussion
Matthew will begin his new position as principal percussionist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic when the ensemble opens its 2016-17 season on September 27.

Tomas Janzon MM ’00
He played a free improvisation and 3 compositions by Jose Ferrer: Ejecicio 26, Ejecicio 28 and Ejecicio 8 at a concert in Österbybruk in Sweden on August 2017.

Somang Jeagal ARTD ’15, Piano
Pianist and USC Thornton alumnus Somang Jeagal recently performed at the Phillips Collection art museum in Washington, D.C., as a part of the “Phillips After 5” music series. Jeagal performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2, as well as Chopin’s four piano scherzos.

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.

Robin Kesselman ’12, Double bass
Robin, principal bass of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, enjoyed his solo debut with the ensemble earlier this year. He performed Serge Koussevitzky’s Concerto for Double Bass on the January program, which featured contemporary music from the Americas and was led by conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada.

Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Thomas recently collaborated with the Argus Quartet to create a music video of his work, scratch cradle. The quartet, which includes alumni violinists Jason Issokson MM ’11 and Clara Kim DMA ’15, along with violist Dana Kelley and cellist Joann Whang, originally commissioned the piece in 2015. Visit Thomas’s website here.

Veronika Krausas DMA ’01, Composition
Hopscotch, the world’s first mobile opera, inhabited the city’s streets last November and came to USC in January in a concert performance. Among the project’s cutting-edge artistic team were more than 20 students, faculty, and alumni of the USC Thornton School of Music, including faculty composers Veronika and Andrew Norman ’02, piano, MM ’04, composition.

Michael Kudirka ’04, DMA ’12, Classical Guitar
Internationally acclaimed guitarist and USC Thornton alumnus Michael Kudirka was the subject of a feature profile in the spring 2017 issue of Classical Guitar Magazine, exploring his collaboration with composer Thomas Adès. The duo worked together on a “guitar aria” for Adès’ surrealist opera, The Exterminating Angel, which is based on the 1962 film by Luis Buñuel and debuted at the Salzburg Festival in 2016 to rave reviews.

Morten Lauridsen, ’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
He celebrated his 75th birthday with a special concert at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Glendale on Sunday, March 4th. The celebration featured the Donald Brinegar Singers in a performance of Lauriden’s beloved Lux Aeterna, O Magnum Mysterium, and The Nocturnes, with the composer accompanying from the piano.

Anna Lenhart MM ’17
She recently won the position of principal horn with the Hawaii Symphony. During her studies at USC, Lenhart was a member of the Scholarship Woodwind Quintet and also participated in the Music Academy of the West Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, the Debut Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and Hans Zimmer’s Live Tour.

Owen Levine MM ’09, Music Performance
Owen recently won a section bass position with the Colorado Symphony. Levine previously performed as a Fellow with the New World Symphony.

Christina Linhardt ’97
Christina just became the new staff writer for the California Philharmonic. She created their new “Meet the Musician” series, where she interviews a different member of the orchestra each week, so each virtuoso gets their well-deserved time in the spotlight.

KuanFen Liu DMA ’10, Choral Music
KuanFen has received the Ventura Mayor’s Arts Award in the category of Artist in the Community. This award honors established artists in any discipline who show artistic excellence and contribute to Ventura’s cultural vitality.

Jason Lo MM ’12, DMA ’16, Piano
Jason and Micah Wright DMA ’15 recently won the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Woodwind State Competition. This month, they will perform in the Regional Competition in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Steven Logan GCRT ’15, Percussion
Steven was recently named principal timpanist of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO)

Alexandra Loutsion, MM ’08 GCRT ’10, Vocal arts
Alexandra will star in a summer opera called Puccini Tosca performed by critically acclaimed opera Wolf Trap Opera.

Gina Luciani MM’13, Flute
Gina was recently named an International Trevor James Alto Flute Artist with the UK-based flute company. She is also successfully building an online brand through different social media platforms as she has captured the attention of more than 21,000 followers.

Lansing McLoskey MM ’92, Composition
Lansing is the winner of the choral category (professional division) of the 2016 American Prize in Composition.

David Means DMA ’97, Choral Music
David founded the Valley Choral Artists, South Texas’s first semi-professional chamber choir, in 2013 after he was appointed Director of Choral Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Visit David’s website here.

Angela Meade MM ’04, Vocal arts
This summer, Angela will lead the Bel Canto at Caramoor series with a performance of Imogene in Bellini’s lesser-known opera, Il pirata. She will also be featured as a soloist for the summer season’s opening night concert on June 17th and will serve as Artist-In-Residence for programs throughout the season.

Drew Mikuška ’16, Composition
Drew, a graduate student in the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program, was recently honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation with the Betty Rose Scholarship. Visit Drew’s website here.

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.

Lawrence Mumford DMA ’89, Composition
He recently had two original compositions place in the national competition known as the American Prize. His choral piece, Quietem is a semi-finalist in the professional choral division, and his orchestra piece Santa Cruz Island is a finalist in the professional orchestra division. Both pieces may be heard at

Peter Myers MM ’10, GCRT ’13, Music Performance
Peter is the new associate principal cello of the San Francisco Opera. In November, he was selected from a pool of over 50 invited cellists to join the company’s orchestra. Visit Peter’s website here.

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’s new work , A Trip to the Moon, will receive its U.S. premiere in two LA Philharmonic performances featuring the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus in March 2018. “Play,” a 47-minute orchestral work, was also the subject of “Andrew Norman’s ‘Play,’ a Symphony That Levels Up,” an article in the January 16 issue of The New York Times. Music critic David Allen wrote admiringly of Norman’s “wizardry” and “achievement”, calling his piece “a revolution in music.” Visit Andrew’s website here.

Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Patrick was recently selected as the Sioux City Symphony’s Composer of the Year for 2018. O’Malley’s string orchestra piece Loneliness in a Beautiful Place was selected as the winner, and he will be in Sioux City Iowa from Feb. 7th to 11th for rehearsals, along with some educational and outreach functions put on by the symphony.

Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules received the Harold Arlen Film & TV Award at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Film Scoring Workshop this past summer. He was also 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.

Cynthia Phelps, Viola
Cynthia, principal violist of the New York Philharmonic, recently performed with the Les Amies Trio for the San Antonio Chamber Music Society’s 74th season. She was also profiled in Strings magazine on the occasion of the orchestra’s November premiere of a concerto written for her by Composition doctoral candidate Julia Adolphe MM ’12, composition.

Elizabeth Pitcairn ’02, Music Performance
Violinist and USC Thornton alumna, Elizabeth recently appeared on Trojan Vision’s nightly talk show, CU@USC. Pitcairn discussed the history behind her legendary 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius violin and then performed with the instrument.

Vicki Ray DMA ’88
Vicki recently had her recording of River of 1,000 Streams (composed by Daniel Lentz) reviewed by “I Care If You Listen.” Reviewer Nick Stevens referred to Ray as a “Los Angeles luminary” and her performance as “colorful, nuanced.”

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.

Clement Reid ’80, Composition
Clement recently had several premieres, including: “Markings for Two Pianos,” “Portrait of Laurel and Hardy,” “Theater Piece #1/Monologue for Cello,” and “Nonsense Songs for Women’s Chorus and Piano” (based on Edward Lear’s poems).

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..

Elizabeth Roberts MM ’01, bassoon
She won the contrabassoon position with the Virginia Symphony and joined the orchestra in the 2017-18 season. She also joined the faculty of the New England Music Camp during the summer of 2017, and will return there for the summer of 2018.

Mark Robson MM ’89, Piano
Mark presented an adventurous program as part of REDCAT’s Piano Spheres series at REDCAT last month, featuring works by Stockhausen, Glass, and Rihm. Robson also premiered new work by the Los Angeles composer Daniel Rothman. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times described Robson’s Piano Spheres performance as “magnificent.”

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.

Giovanni Santos MM ’07
The United States Naval Academy Band’s Brass Ensemble recently premiered a work by Santos, written for and performed by trumpeter Matt Harriman MM ’08. Voyages was performed on January 28th at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., under the baton of Lieutenant Commander Diane Nichols. Also performing in the ensemble was horn player and alumna Erika Loke ’12.

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.

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.

Jo-Michael Scheibe DMA ’85, Choral Music
The Graduate Choral Conducting Competition was held at the ACDA national conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was widely attended by Thornton Choral & Sacred Music students and faculty. Department chair Jo-Michael Scheibe presented two sessions related to the publication of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, for which he served as editor. Several alumni also presented at the conference including Saunder Choi MM ’16, composition, Jerry Blackstone DMA ’86, choral music, Noreen Green DMA ’91, choral music, and Buddy James DMA ’98, choral music.

Nadia Schpachenko MM ’99, DMA ’04, Piano
Nadia performed six commissioned works for her “Poetry of Places” concert and recording project to enthusiastic reviews of the New York premiere.

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.

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.

Ethan Sperry MM’98, DMA ’00, Choral Music
Ethan has just been appointed as the first Barre Stoll Director of Choral Activities in Portland State University’s College of the Arts. Under his leadership,as the professor of music and director of the PSU chamber choir, they won international awards as well as released two acclaimed recordings.

Jim Stanley MM ’79, Composition
The Topanga Symphony Orchestra premiered Jim Stanley’s Introduction and Scherzo for Violin and Orchestra on March 4 at the Topanga Community House.

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. Visit Marek’s website here.

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.

Scott Tennant, Classical Guitar
Classical guitar faculty member Scott Tennant was profiled in the November/December issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine for his project to record an album of compositions by virtuoso guitarist, Andrés Segovia.

Michael Tilson Thomas ’67, Piano, MM ’76, Conducting
Michael will bring violinist Gil Shaham and the San Francisco Symphony to Walt Disney Concert Hall on March 27, 2018 for a program inspired by early 20th century Vienna.

Dale Catherine Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
The choral works of Dale, and the world premiere recording of her 35-minute secular requiem “How to Go On” will be featured by the Choral Arts Initiative on their first album release on March 24.

Kristof Van Grysperre MM ’02, Conducting, MM ’00, DMA ’05, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Kristof made his New York City Opera debut conducting the November production of Fallujah, an opera by composer Tobin Stokes inspired by a U.S. Marine’s struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of duty in Iraq. Visit Kristof’s website here.

Mark Watters ’77, Saxaphone
Mark has been named the inaugural director of the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. In addition to serving as director of the Beal Institute, Watters will oversee the newly established Master of Music degree in Contemporary Media/Film Composition and teach graduate courses.

Janise White MM ’81, Piano
Pianist and conductor Janise White’s CD, DVD and Arrangements of Ignatius Sancho’s music for the Duke John Second of Montagu have been archived in the British Library Repository (2015). They were exhibited at the West Africa Exhibit held at the British Library from October 2015 to April 2016.

Vince Womack MMED ’97
The article, The Trojans Bringing Arts Education Back to Kids and Schools highlights the success of this Thornton alumnus, whose innovative curriculum as music director of the James A. Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles allows his students to explore a variety of different musical experiences.

Jaco Wong MM ’16, Choral Music and Composition
Jaco participated in the Taipei International choral Festival 2016, where he conducted the Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Orchestra performing Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and sang Mozart’s Requiem under the baton of Gabor Hollerung.

Jenny Wong MM ’13
Jenny debuted as associate conductor at the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s December 10th performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, was recently reviewed by music writer Douglas for the website Seen and Heard International. Dutton wrote that Wong “brought beauty, balance, subtlety and strength when required,” and noted that Wong’s “finely nuanced direction balanced the complexity of the musical texture with a clear and unfussy account of the score.”

Micah Wright DMA ’15, Clarinet
Micah won 2nd place in the Backun International Clarinet Competition in early March. The competition featured 16 participants from 8 different countries. Micah also received honorable mention in the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition held at the Flint Institute of Music in Michigan. Micah and Jason Lo MM ’12, DMA ’16 recently won the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Woodwind State Competition. This month, they will perform in the Regional Competition in Honolulu, Hawaii.Gamble House in Pasadena also collaborated with USC Thornton to present a four-part music series entitled “House Music,” which featured student pianist Vijay Venkatesh, cellist Annie Jacobs-Perkins ’18, and clarinetist and alumnus Micah Wright, performing works by Beethoven, Muczynski, and Brahms.

Contemporary Music

Michael Abels ’84
Michael is the subject of a recent Los Angeles Times profile for his scoring work for Jordan Peele’s hit 2017 thriller, Get Out. Peele discovered the composer, who is best known for his gospel and orchestral compositions, through a Youtube clip of Abel’s Urban Legends concerto for string quartet and orchestra. Get Out was Abel’s first film score.

Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, SMPTV
Peter’s performances of his Grammy-nominated work Ellis Island: The Dream of America with the Pacific Symphony on April 7th and 8th will be filmed for a national broadcast debut on PBS’ Great Performances in the 2017-18 season, with subsequent broadcasts planned over the next three years. Peter also had his work Silver Fanfare performed by The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, for the orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert at Severance Hall. Wilkins had previously conducted Silver Fanfare (originally commissioned by the Pacific Symphony) to open the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s seasons in 2015 and 2016. He also had 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.

Jacques Brautbar ’15, GCRT ’16, Screen Scoring
USC Thornton Screen Scoring alumnus Jacques was recently profiled by “Film School Shorts,” a national series showcasing student filmmakers by San Francisco’s KQED Public Television. In the piece, Brautbar recounts his non-traditional career path and provides valuable insight into the balance between creative artistry and effective collaboration in the screen scoring process.

The band Brightener featuring popular music alumni Will Sturgeon ’12 and Aman Alem ’14 performed at Coachella 2016 and placed first in the Tachevah Battle of the Bands competition.

Malia Civetz ’16, Popular Music
Malia recently sang the National Anthem at the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Earlier this year, Civetz performed Steve Hackman’s mash-up of rapper Drake’s music and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Tchaikovsky V. Drake with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She will reprise Hackman’s piece on March 22 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Gerald Clayton ’07, Jazz Studies
Gerald will be featured in performances of Erroll Garner’s Concert by the Sea on March 8, 2018 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a concert celebrating the 100th birthday of legendary pianist Thelonious Monk.

Rosalind Elizabeth Crane BM ’13, Popular Music
Rozzie will perform at Hotel Cafe’s Second Stage in Los Angeles as part of a spring residency. Crane, who was part of the Popular Music program’s inaugural class, is scheduled to perform February 2, March 2, April 6, and May 4.

Tamar Davis ’02, Music Industry
Tamar performed at the 9th annual MojaMoja Brunch & Benefit concert last month, celebrating the life and musical legacy of Prince. Davis was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for the 2006 song “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed,” which she wrote with Prince.

Gabriel DiMarco GCRT ’14, SMPTV
Gabriel won Best Score for the feature film, Children of the Mountain, at the 2016 Ghana Movie Awards in Accra, Ghana. Described as “moving” by Daniel Glenn of Film Forward, DiMarco’s score reinforces the emotional journey of an unmarried mother in contemporary Ghana as she seeks treatment for her young son, who is shunned by society due to his cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. He was also featured as a cello soloist in 2016 Outstanding Alumnus Bear McCreary’s ’02 (composition) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the new film Colossal starring Anne Hathaway, and was a winner in the 2016 Ghana Movie Awards in the category “Music (Original Score)” for his work on Children of the Mountain.

Karina DePiano ’16
She performed with Singer Troye Sivan on Saturday Night Live. DePiano has performed with several artists such as Rita Ora, Daya, and Miley Cyrus. The SNL performance comes just weeks after her performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Dixie Jade
Country duo Dixie Jade, made up of USC Thornton alumni, pianist/vocalist Andrea Crisalli ’11, vocal arts, and guitarist/vocalist Dominique Ruiz ’11, music, are rising in popularity. The Nashville-based duo was recently featured on the public television series, Songs at the Center, where they performed, Grit and Amazing Grace.

Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
He has garnered global attention and several nominations for Best Original Score for his score for the multi-award winning documentary Down the Fence (2017). His score for the highly anticipated The Dating Project (2018) releases nationally alongside the film in theaters this April. He continues to receive commissions for new concert music across the US, and has recently served in Music Departments for films such as Finding Dory and Spectre. He has also served as an orchestrator for the late James Horner’s Titanic Live, currently touring internationally.

Nora Germain ’14, Jazz Studies
Nora recently authored a book entitled, Go For It… Surviving the Challenges of Becoming an Artist. Presented as vignettes from Germain’s professional life story, the book strives to encourage young artists to find their entrepreneurial spirit.ste

Heather Guibert ’06, Music Industry
Several USC Thornton music industry alumni were nominated for 2017 Guild of Music Supervisor Awards. Alumna Heather Guibert ’06 was nominated for 2017 Guild of Music Supervisor Award for Best Music Supervision in a Television Drama Rosewood, and for Best Song/Recording Created for TV for “Does She Love” performed by Gabrielle Dennis on Rosewood. Brienne Rose ’04 was nominated for Best Use of Music by a Music House for her work with Spotify. Jojo Villanueva ’99 received two Best Music Supervision for Film nominations for his work in Sing and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.

HOCKET, DMA Composition student Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, composition, and Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, composition, had their newest performance video of Aaron Holloway-Nahum’s Remember Me? featured on I Care If You Listen. HOCKET has spent over two years working on “Remember Me?”.

Randy Ingram ’00, Jazz Studies
Pianist-composer Randy Ingram, is set to release a new album, The Wandering, a sophisticated, personal and enlightening album featuring bassist Drew Gress on Sunnyside Records April 21, 2017. The album explores Ingram’s musical journey and the process of honing and expressing his musical voice.

Abram Imamovic ’13, Vocal Arts
Abram along with Almer Imamovic MM ’06, classical guitar, performed for the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzogovnia’s (ACBH) 10th Anniversary Gala honoring former Vice President, Joe Biden, with ACBH’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brian Robert Jones BM ’15, Popular Music
Bassist Brian Robert Jones recently performed with singer Gwen Stefani at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas following on the heels of Stefani’s 28-city, “This Is What The Truth Feels Like” tour, on which Jones performed from July through October of 2016.

Patrick Kirst GCRT ’03, SMPTV
Screen Scoring faculty member and SMPTV alumnus Patrick Kirst was recently quotedby Variety in an article on shifting trends in film scoring.

Robert Lydecker ’08, Film Scoring, GCRT ’09, SMPTV
USC Thornton Screen Scoring alumni Robert, Kenny Wood GCRT ‘09, SMPTV, and Harrison Lee GCRT ’12, SMPTV, worked on the score for Paramount’s new film XXX: Return of Xander Cage, which was released this past January. Wood and Lee served as arrangers on the project, while Lydecker co-scored.

Divya Maus ’14, Popular Music
Divya authored a guest column for, where she wrote a wide-ranging article about her journey from popular music to musical theater.

Tigran Martikyan ’98, Jazz Studies
Not too long ago, in February 2015, Tigran had a vision to build his own Music Institution, now called Martikyan Music Center! After one year of hard work, Mr. Martikyan was able to build his sophisticated, small theatre-like venue featuring custom designed furnishings, wall sculptures, and more–all selected and designed by Mr. Martikyan himself.

Vince Mendoza MM ’85, Jazz Studies
The WDR Big Band will release an album of music by USC Thornton Jazz composer and alumnus Vince Mendoza, who is currently Composer in Residence and 1st Guest Conductor for the Cologne, Germany, based ensemble. Homecoming, which will be released March 3rd, features 7 original tracks composed especially for the band and recorded live at two concerts. Vince Mendoza has also been appointed Composer in Residence and 1st Guest Conductor for the WDR Big Band’s upcoming season. Visit Vince’s website here.

MUNA, a trio which includes popular music alumna Katie Gavin ’15 and Josette Maskin ’16, along with Naomi McPherson, recently sat down to record a video for Vice’s Noisey series “Call Your Dad” — but things didn’t go exactly as planned. The band was also featured on the February 6th episode of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing two songs from their latest album, “About U.”

Amber Navran ’12, Jazz Studies
Amber has contributed to a feature article on 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.

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 has recently released his original score to the VR game Raw Data. The soundtrack includes 60 minutes of Tisser’s score along with 30 minutes of Chopin Piano Nocturnes.

Daniel Weidlein ’12
Daniel has been nominated for a 2018 Roundglass Music Award. Daniel’s composition We The People—a musical setting of the Constitution and inaugural speeches—has been selected as one of 6 finalists in the “Spoken Word” category.

Ray Zepeda MM ’98, Jazz Studies
Saxophonist, founder, and artistic director of the Bakersfield New Music Collective, Ray recently organized a tribute concert for the serial composer, Milton Babbitt. The free event, entitled “Re-Imagining Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration for an Exceptional American,” took place at The Mark in downtown Bakersfield and featured seminal pieces by Babbitt, as well as original pieces by Zepeda and other members of the Collective. Performances ranged from solo DJ sets to an 11-piece ensemble

Scholarly & Professional Studies

Richard Brown MA ’07, Music History & Literature, PHD ’12, Musicology
Richard recently accepted a position with Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. as manager and in-house forensic musicologist of the Infringement Compliance Unit.

James Edwards ’77, MM ’82, Music Education
James has been awarded the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Educators by the District of Columbia Public Schools. The award was formally presented as a part of the districts’ Standing Ovation for DC Public Schools in a celebration held at the Kennedy Center held on March 13th.

Reyna Gordon, PhD, BM ’01, Vocal Arts,
She has been awarded an NIH NIDCD K18 career development grant entitled “Mapping the Genetic and Neural Architecture of Human Rhythm and Communication Traits.” This federal funding will allow Dr. Gordon to conduct more research on the biological basis of music. Dr. Gordon is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.