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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 Spring 2015. To submit your own alumni accomplishment, please email


Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to write a viola concerto for principal violist and fellow Thornton alumna Cynthia Phelps for a future season.

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.

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.

Justin Bell GCRT ’11, SMPTV
Justin composed additional music, orchestrated, and arranged for the new Netflix Original Series “Sense8.” Visit Justin’s website here.

Cardinal Winds
Cardinal Winds—which includes Thornton alumni Alex Garcia MM ’13, bassoon, and Hedy Lee ’07, MM ’09, DMA ’13, piano—performed at the annual Clyde Montgomery Concert in Pasadena on March 29, during which they premiered composer Stephen Cohn’s “Aria for Winds.” Cardinal Winds has also been awarded the Grand Prize in the 2015 Plowman Chamber Music Competition in Columbia, Missouri. Cardinal Winds was also selected for the Coleman Competition Finals.

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.

Davy Chinn MM ’14, Choral Music
Davy has been appointed the Community Arts Coordinator at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU). He will be the director of the IWU Music Academy and teach undergraduate courses in aural skills, music appreciation, and conducting.

Early music ensemble Ciaramella–which includes alumni Jason Yoshida MM ’09, DMA ’14, Aki Nishiguchi MM ’08, DMA ’12, Arthur Omura ’10, MA ’12, and Jose Gurria-Cardenas MM ’09, DMA ’13received positive reviews from the online music site Record Collector, for its most recent album, Dances on Moveable Ground. Visit Ciaramella’s website here.

Emily Cooley MM ’14, Composition
Emily was a participant of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s first National Composer’s Intensive. Visit Emily’s website here.

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.

Rozzi Crane, Popular Music
Rozzi was featured as a musical guest on the Today Show, accompanied on guitar by alumnus Brandon Bae ’12, studio/jazz guitar. She was also interviewed on NBC in South Florida about her current tour in support of Maroon 5 and her new EP “Space” that was released on February 16th. She also performed her new single, “Psycho.” Visit Rozzi’s website here.

William Cravy ’14, Double Bass
Will was awarded 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. Will was awarded 2nd place in the 2015 Aspen Music Festival Low Strings Competition and was appointed 2nd chair double bass for the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. His stand-partner is David Young MM ’81, DMA ’85, double bass. Will was selected as a performing apprentice for the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra (NAC) as part of the orchestra’s Institute for Orchestral Studies.

Robert Curl ’12, Bassoon
Robert performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 17 in Naperville, IL. The all-Tchaikovsky program was led by conductor Rei Hotada.

A. Phoenix Delgado ’02, MM ’04, DMA ’13, Flute and Conducting
Dr. A. Phoenix Delgado will conduct the New Valley Symphony Orchestra on June 28 featuring the film music of Randy Newman. He also conducted then in a spring concert titled, “A World Premiere in Dance” in collaboration with the Luminario Ballet, featuring two world premiere compositions by Los Angeles based composers Erich Bulling and David Stout on March 15. Dr. 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.

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.” She also recently published an article in the June/July 2015 issue of the American Music Teacher, titled, “Websites, and Templates, and Tabs! Oh My! Piano Pedagogy in the Digital Age.” Visit Margarita’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.

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.

Nic Gerpe ’06, MM ’08, DMA ’12, Piano
Nic was featured in a solo piano performance at REDCAT on Tuesday, April 28 as part of REDCAT’s Piano Spheres series. Visit Nic’s website here.

Dominic Gregorio DMA ’12, Choral Music
Dominic is the recipient of the University of Regina New Faculty Teaching Award of Recognition.

Mak Grgic MM ’12, DMA candidate, Classical Guitar
Mak recently performed in Seoul, South Korea at the Right Now Music 2015 Festival in April 2015. Additionally, Mak performed at the Outside the Box festival at Southern Illinois University. His latest album, Cinema Verismo, is available now. Visit Mak’s website here.

Ana Guigui DMA ’13, Vocal Arts
Ana is currently Assistant Professor of Voice at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She is also singing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline. Visit Ana’s website here.

Saad Haddad ’14, Composition, Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition, and Daniel Allas ’15, Composition
Saad Haddad, Patrick O’Malley, and Daniel Allas 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.

Bianca Hall DMA ’14, Early Music
Bianca has been appointed Early Music Lecturer at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She has also had a scholarly paper accepted for the 2015 South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference in Durham, NC. Bianca had her scholarly paper accepted at the International Society for the History of Rhetoric in Tübingen, Germany. Last year, Bianca contributed a scholarly paper to the annual Renaissance Conference of Southern California. She has also presented at the San Francisco Early Music Society Medieval Renaissance Workshop, along with fellow Thornton alumnus and current faculty Jason Yoshida MM ’09, classical guitar, DMA ’14, early music. Visit Bianca’s website here.

Jessica Hall MM ’09, GCRT ’11, DMA ’14, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Jessica will serve as Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist pianist and coach for the 2015-16 season. The highly competitive Resident Artist Program is a professional training ground for exceptional artists and musicians.

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.

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.

Amanda Holmes ’10, Music Industry
Amanda became CEO of her father’s company, Chet Holmes International.

Seth Houston DMA ’14, Choral Music
Seth has been appointed the Director of Choral Activities at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California Irvine (UCI). Visit Seth’s website here.

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

INSPIRAVI Chamber Choir
INSPIRAVI Chamber Choir features several Thornton alumni and will present NEW VOICES, a concert of works by the next generation of choral composers on March 28. Thornton alumni include: Haesung Park DMA ’12, organ, Christine Bristow MM ’12, GCRT ’14, vocal arts, Clarissa Shan MM ’10, DMA candidate, vocal arts, Eleni Pantages ’11, MAT ’12, music education, Tim Gonzales GCRT ’11, MM ’13, vocal arts, Richard Langham ’02, music education, Jon Lee Keenan MM ’09, DMA ’13, vocal arts, Dylan Gentile ’02, piano, and E. Scott Levin GCRT ’09, vocal arts. The concert features new works from fellow Thornton alumnus Matthew Brown MAT ’11, music education.

Greg Johnson MM ’12, DMA candidate, Jazz Studies
Greg performed with the band Saint Motel on the March 24th episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live and the April 7th episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden. Visit Greg’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.

Jong-In Kim DMA ’11, Choral Music
Jong-In has just been named the Interim Conductor of the Incheon City Chorale, Korea’s most prestigious professional choir.

Rock band Kiven—consisting of USC Thornton alumni Daniel Schnair ’11, Tyler Demorest ’11, Jake Reed MM ’10, DMA ’13, and Matt Cohen ’14—recently completed a series of performances opening for the indie rock group Sad Robot.

Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Thomas received a BMI Student Composer Award on May 18 in New York City for his octet, that in shadow or moonlight rises. Visit Thomas’ 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.

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.

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.

A.J. Novak ’14, Popular Music
A.J. performed with the band Who is Fancy? on the April 7th episode of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Cameron O’Connor DMA ’14, Classical Guitar
Cameron was one of the solo winners of the 2015 Frances Walton Competition. He also was a finalist in the Tokyo International Guitar Competition. Visit Cameron’s website here.

Elizabeth Ogonek MM ’12, Composition
Elizabeth was named composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Visit Elizabeth’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. He was also recently selected for the 2015 Underwood New Music Readings. Jules was one of seven emerging composers chosen from an international pool of more than 400 applicants from seven countries and 37 states ranging in age from 9 to 84. His composition Shadows of the Studio was workshopped and performed by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in New York’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music on May 6-7, 2015. 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.

Troy Quinn DMA ’14, Choral Music
Troy is the new music director and conductor of Juneau Symphony. He was the first featured conductor in the Juneau Symphony’s 2014-15 Guest Conductor Concert Series beginning in November 2014. Visit Troy’s website here.

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

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

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.

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.

Fangfang Shi ’96, MM ’99, DMA ’12, Piano
Fangfang won first place in the 2015 American Protégé International Competition for Piano and Strings and will be performing in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on April 12, 2015. Visit Fangfang’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.

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.

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.

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.

Trevor Thompson, Music Industry
Trevor is Executive Producer of “The Score,” a documentary on film scoring. “The Score” completed a successful Kickstarter campaign by securing over $120,000 (302% of its original goal).

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.

Zhou Tian DMA ’11, Composition
Zhou was recently commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for a new work, which will premiere in the 2015-16 season finale. Visit Zhou’s website here.

Jeremy Tisser GCRT ’12, SMPTV
Jeremy co-wrote the main title of KLCS television series “Composers on Composing” with fellow Thornton alumnus and mentor Mark Watters ’77, saxophone. Jeremy was also 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, 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.

Courtney Wise ’10, Flute
Courtney released an album titled “Senza Misura” with her flute and guitar group Duo Bohème in November 2014 to glowing reception. Visit her website here.

Jenny Ching Yee Wong MM ’13, DMA candidate, Choral Music
Jenny recently served as a conductor at the Norfolk Choral Workshop with Simon Carrington and at the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra Institute at Peabody Conservatory. This summer, Jenny will sing and conduct with Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Helmuth Rilling.


Sarkis Baltaian ’99, MM ’01, DMA ’07, Piano
Sarkis released a new album of Beethoven & Schumann Violin Sonatas, now available on iTunes. Visit Sarkis’ 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.

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. They also developed an app for Music Lifeboat, a globally focused non-profit organization. The app utilizes teachings from world-class philharmonic and studio musicians to provide easily accessible music education for everyone. Visit Brandon’s website here and Terry’s website here.

Ruslan Biryukov GCRT ’04, ARTD ’06, Violoncello
The Los Angeles Daily News covered the 5th anniversary celebration of the Glendale Philharmonic, founded by alumnus Ruslan Biryukov.

Alison Bjorkedal MM ’05, DMA ’08, Harp, and Nick Terry DMA ’11, Percussion
Alison and Nick performed on the Partch ensemble’s GRAMMY Award-winning album, Plectra & Percussion Dances. Visit Alison’s website here and Nick’s website here.

Julie Boardman ’04, Music Industry
Julie will have her Broadway producing debut this spring with An American in Paris.

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.

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 – is featured on the May 2015 cover of Strings Magazine. The feature article explores the changing performance landscape for chamber quartets and the increasing role that music schools play in equipping students for successful careers.

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. The Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra (ACJO) will be the featured artist in the El Camino College Center for Performing Arts Main Stage Series on Friday, March 6. Alan is Director of Jazz Band One and Applied Music Instructor at El Camino College. Visit Alan’s website here.

Erin Colwitz MM ’04, DMA ’07, Choral Music
Erin has been appointed the Director of Choral Activities at Northern Michigan University beginning fall 2015. Visit Erin’s website here.

Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové will conduct the Nové Deypalan Singers in Bellissima, a concert on September 5 at The Colburn School’s Zipper Hall. Nové also guest conducted for the Mission College Symphony Orchestra on April 26, 2015. Visit Nové’s website here.

Robert Duff DMA ’00, Choral Music
Robert has been appointed as Choral Conductor for Brandeis University. He will also continue as Artistic and Musical Director at the Handel Society of Dartmouth College.

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. Karim was also profiled in the February 2015 issue of International Musician. Visit Karim’s website here.

Jacquelynne Fontaine MM ’08, DMA candidate, Vocal Arts
Jacquelynne is starring as Carlotta Giudicelli in the North American tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Phantom of the Opera. Visit Jacquelynne’s website here.

Chenny Gan DMA ’09, Piano
Chenny was featured in NerdScholar’s “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire” in March 2015. Chenny is Assistant Professor of Piano and Collaborative Piano at Wesleyan College. Visit Chenny’s website here.

Sam Gendel ’09
Sam released a new album with his group INGA titled en. Sam plays saxophone and guitar on the album. INGA’s new album also features drummer and fellow USC Thornton alumnus Kevin Yokota ’10, jazz studies.

Reyna Gordon ’01, Vocal Arts
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.

T.J. Harper DMA ’08, Choral Music
T.J. has been named the 2014-15 recipient of the Providence College Joseph R. Accinno Teaching Award, which is presented annually to the faculty member who best exhibits excellence in teaching, passion, and enthusiasm for learning, and genuine concern for students’ academic and personal growth. Visit T.J.’s website here.

Robert Istad DMA ’06, Choral Music
Robert leads the Long Beach Camerata Singers in their 50th Anniversary celebration during the 2015-16 season. Robert has recently been appointed as the Pacific Chorale’s new Artistic Director, beginning in the 2017-18 season.

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.

Aron Kallay DMA ’09, Piano
USC Thornton faculty and alumnus Aron Kallay received a glowing review in the Los Angeles Times for his premiere Piano Spheres recital on December 16, 2014. Visit Aron’s website here.

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 was featured on the cover of Opera News magazine for their 13th annual diva issue. Visit Angela’s website here.

Patrick Morganelli MM ’05, Piano, GCRT ’06, SMPTV
Patrick composed music for L.A. Opera’s Hercules vs. Vampires, an operatic mash-up that features a cast of singers and full orchestra performing a live soundtrack for the 1961 cult film Hercules in the Haunted World. Visit Patrick’s website here.

New West Guitar Group
Thornton alumni ensemble New West Guitar GroupJohn Storie ’06, studio/jazz guitar, Perry Smith ’05, studio/jazz guitar, and Jeff Stein ’11, music – completed their seventh album titled Send One Your Love, which will be released in August 2015.

Andrew Norman ’02, Piano, MM ’04, Composition
USC Thornton faculty and alumnus Andrew Norman will join the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Director of the innovative Composer Fellowship Program, which offers exceptional high-school-age composers an opportunity to engage with more established composers. Andrew was profiled in a The New York Times article about British composer Thomas Adès. Andrew was also profiled in the Los Angeles Times about Frank’s House, a new piece the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra premiered on February 5 in a sold-out concert. Visit Andrew’s website here.

Derek Polischuk ’01, MM ’04, DMA ’06, Piano
Derek released “Terra Incognita,” which was recently reviewed by City Pulse. The CD features a new work from fellow Thornton alumnus Thomas Osborne DMA ’06, composition. Derek is Associate Professor of Piano and Director of Piano Pedagogy at Michigan State University College of Music.

Leah Schwartz-Aksnes MM ’09, Clarinet
Leah was named principal clarinet of the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra in Denmark.

Susie Benchasil Seiter GCRT ’05, SMPTV
Susie will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in a concert titled “Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions” on May 1, 2015 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The premiere of Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions in Washington D.C. sold out with a second performance added by popular demand. Visit Susie’s website here.

Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman MM ’97, DMA ’04, Piano
Nadia recently became a Steinway Artist and will be performing a solo recital for Piano Spheres at REDCAT at Disney Hall on Tuesday, October 27 at 8:30 p.m. Her performance will include 3 world premieres by Lewis Spratlan, Annie Gosfield, and Harold Meltzer, as well as works from her recently released album 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.

Marisa Sorajja ’04, Violin
Marisa won the position of Associate Principal 2nd Violin at the LA Opera. She is also a member of the Pacific Symphony, Principal First Violin of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and First Assistant Concertmaster of New West Symphony.

Ethan Sperry MM ’98, DMA ’00, Choral Music
Ethan received a glowing review in Oregon ArtsWatch about his leadership as Director of the Portland State Chamber Choir.

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.

Austin Wintory ’07, Composition
Austin was nominated for two 2015 BAFTA British Academy Games Awards for his musical composition on the video game, The Banner Saga. Visit Austin’s website here.

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. Roger also won the 12th annual Northridge Competition Prize for the orchestral version of his piece, Fractal Miniatures, which the California State University, Northridge symphony premiered on March 4, 2015. Originally composed for the SONAR new music ensemble, the orchestral version won the 2015 Red Note Music Festival Composition Competition at Illinois State University. Visit Roger’s website here.


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.

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.

Antoine Diel ’96, MM ’99, Vocal Arts
Antoine recently released “On the Corner of Hope and New Orleans,” which was voted as one of the top 25 albums released from Louisiana for 2014 by OffBeat Magazine. Antoine was also nominated as Best Male Vocalist of the Year in OffBeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Awards 2014. Visit Antoine’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.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – which includes USC Thornton alumnus Matthew Greif MM ’92 and Thornton faculty William Kanengiser ’81, MM ’83 and Scott Tennant released a new album, entitled New Renaissance. The recording was partially funded through a crowd-sourced Kickstarter campaign, which successfully raised over $12,000. The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet also performed with friends at the Laguna Beach Music Festival on February 12 – 15, 2015. The concerts included a world premiere by Thornton alumnus Jeffrey Holmes MM ’01, DMA ’04, composition, in a performance conducted by Thornton faculty Brian Head MM ’91, guitar.

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.

Roger Myers ’90, MM ’92, Viola
Roger was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London in November of 2014. Visit Roger’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, in the May 2015 edition of JazzTimes Magazine, and The Buffalo News. The new album continues to receive glowing reviews both in the U.S. and internationally. Visit Greg’s website here.

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.

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

Robert Thies ’93, MM ’95, Piano
Robert performed Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Peninsula Symphony on Sunday, May 3. He received a glowing review of his performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with Jorge Mester and the Louisville Orchestra on April 9. Robert is celebrating the 20th year anniversary of his Gold Medal in the Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. He became the first American pianist (in almost forty years) since Van Cliburn to win a Russian piano competition. As part of this celebration, Robert just performed the Prokofiev 1st with Jorge Mester and the Des Moines Symphony with an ovation of five curtain calls. Visit Robert’s website here. Visit Robert’s website here.


Grant Gershon ’85, Piano
USC Thornton alumnus and Board of Councilors member Grant Gershon is the recipient of the Chorus America’s 2015 Louis Botto Award. Grant is artistic director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and resident conductor of LA Opera.

Rod Gilfry MM ’83, Vocal Arts
USC Thornton alumnus and vocal arts/opera faculty member Rod Gilfry recently originated the role of Walt Whitman in composer Matthew Aucoin’s “Crossing,” to critical acclaim. The new opera, which received its premiere by the American Repertory Theater in association with Music-Theatre Group at the Citi Shubert Theatre in Boston on May 29, draws on the life, work, and poetry of Whitman, and is part of the National Civil War Project.

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.

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.

Gail Samuel ’89
USC Thornton graduate and Board of Councilors member Gail Samuel has been promoted to the position of Executive Director with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. She will serve as acting president and chief executive while current president and CEO Deborah Borda is on sabbatical in the fall.

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. Visit Diane’s website here.


Edie Lehmann Boddicker ’79
Edie was elected to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter’s Board of Governors.

Miriam Grisso ’74, MM ’76, Flute
Miriam has been named the conductor of the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony Symphonic Winds.

Wes Kenney ’78
Wes recently signed a 2-year contract extension as Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony through the end of the 2016-2017 season. He has been with that symphony since 2003 as well as a Full Professor at Colorado State University. In addition, he holds posts as Music Director of Opera Fort Collins and Music Director of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.

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. He also recently spent a week as composer-in-residence at Cabrillo College. Visit Professor Lauridsen’s website here.

John McQuilkin ’79, Music Education
John was named Teacher of the Year for the Antelope Valley Union High School District. He also received the Distinguished Service Award.

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.

Daniel Robbins MM ’76, Composition
Daniel will have his concert suite, Caesar Now Be Still and Finale, featured at the 8th annual Krakow Film Music Festival in May 2015. Daniel also orchestrated music from Miklos Rozsa’s Valley of the Kings film score for Intrada CD’s 2014 recording, “The Man in Half Moon Street: Great Film Music by Miklos Rozsa.” In November, Mr. Robbins delivered his lecture “Music and Our Responses to Film” at the National Association of Composers, USA National Festival in Atlanta. Also sponsored by the National Association of Composers, USA, Robbins’ Sonata for Violin was premiered February 2 in Santa Monica. Visit Daniel’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.

Garry Schyman ’78
USC Thornton faculty and alumnus Garry Schyman received a British Academy of Film and Television Award nomination for Best Original Music for his work for video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Visit Garry’s website here.

Michael Tilson Thomas ’67, Piano, MM ’76, Conducting
Michael Tilson Thomas was featured in a profile by The Wall Street Journal for his “mentoring, outreach and repertoire.” Michael is a Judge Widney Professor of Music at USC. Visit his 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.


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.

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.”

Charles Lloyd ’60
Saxophonist, flutist, composer and arranger Charles Lloyd was recently named a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. This is the highest honor that our nation bestows on living Jazz legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of Jazz.

Donald McInnes, Viola
Alumnus and retired USC Thornton faculty member Donald McInnes was recently interviewed by Ovation Press about his career as both a concert violist and as a teacher.


Marilyn Horne, Vocal Arts
The New York Times reviewed USC Thornton vocal arts alumna Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues, the famed mezzo-soprano’s annual masterclasses at Carnegie Hall.