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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 2016. To submit your own accomplishments, please 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.

Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10, Harp
Alison recently spoke about her research on music’s influence on health and development at USC’s Vision & Voices event: Music and Medicine: Experiments and Explorations.

Timur Bekbosunov GCRT ’06
Timur’s band, Timur and the Dime Museum, premiered two songs on April 19 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall from “Artaud in Black Lodge,” an opera currently in development. He returned in May to premiere a role of Voltaire in “Theater of the World.” His new project, “Love, Honor, Obey” was showcased May 27 at the Boston Court Theater. He also premiered a role of Strang in the “Anatomy Theater” at the Redcat Theater on June 16-19. Visit Timur’s website here.

Donnie Bell ’11, Music
Donnie released a collection of loops titled Ouroboros. Visit Donnie’s website here.

Richard Bernstein ’89, Vocal Arts
Richard will receive an award commemorating his 20 years as a Principal Artist with the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, March 31. During Richard’s tenure with the MET, he has sung in 341 performances and cast in 32 different roles. Visit Richard’s website here.

Steven Bernstein MM ’84, Composition
Steven took second place in The American Prize’s professional choral composition division for his cantana “To Speed Them All.” Visit Steven’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.

Christoph Bull MM ’93, Organ
Christoph is featured in the recording of a piece for the upcoming movie Ghostbusters, in theaters July 15. Visit Christoph’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 – performed at the Kennedy Center Terrace on February 28.

Tim Callobre ’15, Music, GCRT candidate, SMPTV
Tim was recently profiled by OZY magazine. They discuss his prodigious experience as a classical guitarist and his emergence in film scoring.

Janet Chapple ’57
Janet released her third book about Yellowstone National Park, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis, available June 1st.

Chelsea Chaves MM ’15, Vocal Arts
Chelsea hosted a benefit recital on June 1 at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood. She also sang the National Anthem at the Lakers vs. the Grizzlies game at the Staples Center on March 22. She made her debut with the Opera Santa Barbara on April 22 & 24 and attended the Musiktheater Bavaria in July. Visit Chelsea’s website here.

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.

Will Cravy ’14, MM candidate, Double Bass
Will was awarded 3rd Place in the 2016 Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition.

Harold Daugherty MM ’67, DMA ’76, Church Music
Dr. Daugherty conducted a performance of John Rutter’s “Requiem” at La Canada Congregational Church on May 22.

Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové will be music directing and conducting El Camino College’s production of “Into the Woods.” He was also recently awarded a Special Commendation Award in the Conducting Masterclass competition with the London Classical Soloists. Visit Nové’s website here.

Antoine Diel ’96, MM ’99, Vocal Arts
Antoine recently released his second album “In My Father’s House” which is available now on his website. Visit Antoine’s website here.

Yelena Dyachek MM ’16, GCRT candidate, Vocal Arts
Yelena who was recently hailed “magnificent” by the Los Angeles Times, won the Grand Finals for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

David Ferneau MM ’15, Trombone
David won a trombone position with the Disneyland Band in Anaheim, CA. Visit David’s website here.

Naomi Florin ’11, Violin
Naomi was music director and violinist for THE WOODSMAN, an imaginative theatrical experience about the Tin Man. Visit Naomi’s website here.

John Glover MM ’07, Composition
John and current DMA candidate Daniel Temkin were two of four winners of the Mirror Visions Ensemble’s (MVE) Inaugural Young Composers Competition. Their newly commissioned pieces for the ensemble will be presented as part of MVE’s 25th season.

Mak Grgic MM ’12, DMA candidate, Classical Guitar
Mak joined the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra on Saturday for their “Latin Rhythms” concert, showcasing works from Gershwin, Rodrigo, Moncayo, and Bernstein. He was also featured in the February 25th issue of The Daily Trojan, where he spoke about his involvement in Thornton’s weekly Music@RushHour concert series. Visit Mak’s website here.

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.

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

Robert Istad DMA ’06, Choral Music
Robert is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Professor Award at Cal State Fullerton University.

Cheri Jamison ’06, Vocal Arts
Cheri was recently promoted to Vice President of Operations for Cadenza Artists, a rapidly growing music agency and management company. Visit Cheri’s website here.

Tomas Janzon MM ’00, Classical Guitar
Tomas promoted his latest album “Experiences” on several tours throughout Brazil, USA, and Europe. Additionally, he completed a tour with his jazz trio titled “From New York to Korpilombolo,” where he received rave reviews. Visit Tomas’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.

Peter Kairoff DMA ’80, Piano, DMA ’85, Accompanying
Peter recently released his seventh album featuring the piano music of Franz Schubert.

Alexander Kato-Willis MM ’10, DMA ’13, Piano
Alex recently composed the score for the French documentary “Thanks to Your Noble Shadow,” a film about the last Irish missionary nun in Japan. Alex is currently an Applied Piano Instructor at Cuesta College.

Michael Kaufman MM ’12, DMA ’15, Cello
Michael and current student Benjamin Mitchell’s conductor-less ensemble, The Kaleidoscope Chamber Ochestra, was recently profiled in the Los Angeles Times following their performance of two long-form pieces by Olivier Messiaen and John Russell at the Glendale City Church in February 2015. Visit Michael’s website here.

Alison King ’10, Vocal Arts
Alison was a regional winner in the Upper Midwest Region of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Tristan 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.

Nikhil Korula ’01, Vocal Arts
Nikhil started a songwriting team called “The Element,” and wrote the opening track of Ziggy Marley’s new album “Start it Up.” In addition, he reunited with his acappella group, Allright, to sing the national anthem at the Lakers vs. Magic game at the Staples Center on March 8. His band (The Nikhil Korula Band) headlined two sold out shows at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and will open for Eric Hutchinson at Summerfest 2016 in Milwaukee.

Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Thomas was recently awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship, which is given to composition students of great promise. Visit Thomas’s website here.

Cho Eun Lee DMA ’13, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Keyboard Collaborative Arts alumna Cho Eun Lee will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Collaborative Piano/Vocal Coach at Lee University in Tennessee beginning Fall 2016 and will be an accompanist at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria for the summer. Visit Cho Eun’s website here.

Gina Luciani MM ’13, Flute
Gina released her self-titled debut album on April 26. Visit Gina’s website here.

Matthew Mason MM ’02, Piano
Matthew was commissioned by the San Antonio International Piano Competition to write a piano piece for the finalists to perform. He will also be the judge of the special award, “Best Performance of the Commissioned Work.”

Robert McClure MM ’88, Horn, MBA ’99
Robert was named Lecturer Emeritus of the Finance, Real Estate and Law Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Robert is Principal Owner and Portfolio Manager at McClure Investment Management, L.L.C. where he focuses primarily on working with musicians and performance organizations. Visit Robert’s website here.

Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
Film composer and alumnus Bear McCreary was recently interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered about his success as a film and television composer. Visit Bear’s website here.

Scott Morris ’94, Classical Guitar
Scott was unanimously elected to serve as the next Department Chair for the CSU Dominguez Hills Department of Music. Dr. Morris has served as the Supervisor of Guitar Studies for the past decade and has a proven track record of successful recruitment and program building.

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.

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
Thornton alumnus and composition faculty member Andrew Norman received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his compositional work. Only 12 composers are chosen for this prestigious international honor. He will work on two upcoming operas, for the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony, and for the Opera Philadelphia. Andrew premiered his work “Play: Level 1” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under conductor Gustavo Dudamel on February 25, 2016. The LA Phil will perform the work on their upcoming European tour. 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 recently a guest artist at Loyola Marymount University’s Guitar Festival. 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. Visit Patrick’s website here.

Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules was 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.

Derek Polischuk ’01, MM ’04, DMA ’06, Piano
Derek founded “Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life,” a weeklong intensive providing music students with autism the chance to preview life as a collegiate musician.

Keenan Reesor MM ’10, Piano, DMA candidate, Musicology
Keenan accepted a tenure track position at Southern Virginia University to teach music history and piano this fall. He also performed with the Fort Collins Symphony this past April. visit Keenan’s website here.

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.

Daniel Robbins MM ’76, Composition
Daniel adapted and orchestrated a concert suite from the classic Miklos Rozsa score for MGM’s Julius Caesar, which was performed at the BBC Concert Orchestra’s “Shakespeare at Stratford” concert on April 23 and conducted by Keith Lockhart. Dr. Robbins also appeared with the Atlanta Symphony last November as guest lecturer for his “Music and Our Responses to Film” presentation. Visit Daniel’s website here.

Adrian Ruiz ’62, MM ’64, Piano
Adrian performed a live recording of the Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens (AR Records), which also featured fellow alumnus Dr. Clarence Wiggins DMA ’66, music education, as the conductor. Visit Adrian’s website here.

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.

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.

Jason Saunders MM ’14, Choral Music
Jason was recently featured in a video exploring the choral program of the Bethel, Washington, School District. 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.

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.

Ryan Tani ’15, Vocal Arts
Ryan had his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall Stage with the Manhattan Chorale on April 18, conducting Johannes Brahms’ “Warum ist das Licht gegeben,” Op. 74, No. 1. Ryan was the undergraduate winner of the 2015 American Choral Directors Association Conducting Competition.

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.

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.

Kristof Van Grysperre MM ’02, Conducting, MM ’00, DMA ’05, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Kristof will be conducting two new operas, “Fallujah” and “ANYA17.” Visit Kristof’s website here.

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.

Joseph Amante Y Zapata DMA ’02, Choral Music
Joseph was recently promoted to Full Professor of Music at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Contemporary Music

Ambrose Akinmusire MM ’07, Jazz Studies
Amrbose received rave reviews for his recent performance at Chicago’s Constellation. Visit Ambrose’s website here.

Julie Boardman ’04, Music Industry
Julie produced fellow USC alumnus Forest Whitaker’s highly anticipated Broadway debut in Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie. Visit Julie’s website here.

Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, SMPTV
Peter had his work 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.

Ben Bram ’10, Music Industry
Ben and popular music alumnus Scott Hoying won GRAMMY Awards for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella” for their arrangement of Pentatonix’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Visit Ben’s website here.

Brandon Cordoba MM ’13, Jazz Studies
Brandon released a new album, “BLACKdiamonds.” Exclusively instrumental, the album combines retro and current R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Soul for a unique sound. Visit Brandon’s website here.

Alfred Darlington ’00, Music
Alfred released a new album “Kneedelus,” in collaboration with the acclaimed ensemble Kneebody. On this new album, Alfred goes back to his roots in jazz, combining it with his electronic style. Visit Alfred’s website here.

Tamar Davis ’02, Music Industry
Tamar was a recent contestant on NBC’s The Voice.

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

Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV
Karim had his latest work, “Earthrise,” performed by La Sierra University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on May 21. The performance was conducted by fellow alumnus Giovanni Santos, MM ’07, music education. Visit Karim’s website here.

Erik Fong ’01, Music Industry
Erik was a candidate for San Jose City Council District 6. 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.

Danielle Gillman ’01, Music Industry
Danielle created “Birdhouse for Autism,” a mobile application for parents raising children with disabilities.

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

Adam Hawley ’06, MM ’08, DMA ’10, Studio Guitar
Adam released his debut album “Just the Beginning” on March 18. He also toured with Dave Koz. Visit Adam’s website here.

Olivia Mitchell ’14, Music Industry
Olivia and fellow USC alumni Kerry Furrh ’14 and Cailin Lowry ’14, produced a short film, Girl Band, which will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Olivia wrote and produced the original songs and score for the project. Fellow USC Thornton alumna Madison Scheckel ’14, popular music, also co-wrote one of the songs. Visit Olivia’s website here.

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.”

Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
Derik sang a special cameo on ABC’s Modern Family episode which aired on May 4. He also recently released his latest YouTube cover: “Like I Would” by ZAYN. Visit Derik’s website here.

Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
Greg and his trio composed of Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, jazz studies, and Dean Koba MM ’93, jazz studies, performed at the Blue Whale on May 5. Visit Greg’s website here.

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

Scholarly & Professional Studies

James Hurd DMA ’73
James was recently honored as a Washburn Alumni Fellows in November 2015. This award is given to distinguished alumni who’ve achieved notable success.

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.