Classical Performance and Composition

USC Thornton’s Division of Classical Performance and Composition, ‘The Conservatory’, is built on a rich tradition of pairing legendary artist/faculty with extraordinary students of the highest caliber from across the globe.

Our acclaimed programs include Choral and Sacred Music, Classical Guitar, Composition, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, Keyboard Studies, Organ Studies, Strings, Vocal Arts and Opera, and Winds and Percussion.

ARTISTRY is what drives us. A world-class faculty with a passion for teaching, for true excellence and the cultivation of music in our society through the continued success and fulfillment of our students.

VISION is what guides us. The ability to recognize and anticipate the ever-changing landscape of classical music and the foresight to prepare our students for what lies ahead.

COMMUNITY is who we are. A rigorous conservatory of music, nestled within an elite research university in the musically vibrant city of Los Angeles, in which our students are mentored in an exceptionally close-knit environment and offered rich and unique opportunities for study.

“The Division of Classical Performance and Composition is essentially a rigorous conservatory of music, nestled within a prestigious research university, where students have amazing opportunities to explore a wide array of studies.  But we are more than a conservatory.  We are a strong and close-knit community where students are constantly encouraged to challenge themselves and to think outside the box. We recognize that, in order to be a truly great artist, one must thoroughly understand the culture and context of the music we perform.  And furthermore, we understand the constantly evolving landscape of classical music and have the foresight to prepare our students for what lies ahead.  In my estimation, there is no better place for such exploration and study than USC, where the arts are a proud centerpiece of the university.”

Lucinda Carver
Vice Dean
Classical Performance and Composition

event calendar

Upcoming events

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  • Drum Day — Canceled

    This event has been canceled. For further details, please contact the Thornton Community Engagement office: outreach@thornton.usc.edu

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Electro-Acoustic Showcase

    The Composition department presents the annual electro-acoustic showcase, led by DMA student Eric Pham, featuring works by student composers that combine electronic instruments and signal processing with acoustic instruments

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Jazz Honors Combo

    The Jazz Honors Combo, a select group of USC Thornton jazz musicians led by Jason Goldman, presents an evening of standards and original compositions.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Musician's Wellness Initiative: Practicing Presence Through Play

    Facilitator John Fitzgerald explores the power of rhythm and ‘play’ in pursuit of mindfulness.

    Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall (AES)

  • Thornton Edge

    Thornton Edge presents a program of works by Stephen Hartke, Barbara White, and Magnus Lindberg, as well as Jeffrey Holmes' virtuosic microtonal work for nine players, Hagall. Composition chair Donald Crockett conducts. PROGRAM: Gradūs (1999) by Stephen Hartke (b. 1952) Nick Davies, clarinet Richard An, piano Ethan Ahmad, percussion Mann-Wen Lo, violin Peter Myers, cello Rebecca Lawrence, bass Learning to See (2000) by Barbara White (b.1965) Elissa Brown, flute Frederik von Wurden, clarinet Richard An, piano Ethan Ahmad, percussion Mann-Wen Lo, violin Peter Myers, cello Ablauf (1983) by Magnus Lindberg (1958) Nick Davies, clarinet Tyler Eschendal and Ethan Ahmad, percussion Hagall (2015) by Jeffrey Holmes Emma McCartney, flute Theodosia Roussos, oboe Sérgio Coelho, e flat clarinet Taylor Eiffert, contra clarinet Weston Mccall, horn Tyler Eschendal and Thomas Kolakowski, percussion Ali Can Puskulcu, violin Diana Wade, viola Peter Myers, cello Rebecca Lawrence, bass Free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served, and RSVPs are not available.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Popular Music: First-Year Showcase

    Led by professors Andy Abad and Patrice Rushen, first-year Popular Music program students explore the foundations of their craft in this showcase.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • Jazz Night

    Students from Thornton's Jazz Studies department present an evening of contemporary jazz as part of an ongoing series.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • Griot! African and European Improvisations with Jalli Lamin Kuyateh and the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia

    African musician Jalli Lamin Kuyateh joins music director Adam Gilbert and the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia for a fascinating meeting of musical styles, time periods, and instruments. The improvisational concert will blend Gambian and Baroque songs to create a riveting fusion of African griot and Euro-Baroque music. Kuyateh stands in a long tradition of Gambian bards, performing the African gourd harp (or kora) while singing birimintingo and kumbengo, improvised songs and stories that tell history, sing in praise and love, and offer sage advice. Kuyateh lives in the Netherlands, where he blends traditional and modern African music to collaborate with European ensembles. Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Popular Music: Senior Showcase

    The senior class of Thornton's Popular Music program returns to the famed Troubadour in West Hollywood for this annual showcase.

    The Troubadour Club

  • USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra: People Music

    The USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra premieres a new composition by music director Bob Mintzer in a special collaboration between Thornton's Classical and Contemporary Music Divisions. The three-movement work, People Music, strives to find a "meeting place between jazz and groove music and an orchestral sensibility, where both genres are acknowledged in a respectful way." People Music was originally commissioned by the jazz arm of the Vienna Philharmonic.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Paul Dresher and the Dresher/Davel Instrument Duo

    Composer and musician Paul Dresher and percussionist Joel Davel join forces for an electro-acoustic performance on extraordinary instruments of their own invention. Dresher and Davel will create otherworldly music on the four-stringed, fifteen-foot-long quadrachord, the seven-stringed, 10-foot-long hurdy grande, and electronic-music pioneer Don Buchla’s magical Marimba Lumina. Following the concert, Dresher will present a short talk about his instruments and invite the audience to come onstage and try them out for themselves. Organized by Karen Koblitz from the USC Roski School of Art and Design and Veronika Krausas from the USC Thornton School of Music, the performance is presented in conjunction with Sound Maze, an exhibition of Dresher's instruments on display at the USC Fisher Museum of Art from March 3 through 8. Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Chamber Music Masterclass with Clive Greensmith

    Cellist Clive Greensmith, a former member of the Tokyo String Quartet, leads a masterclass with some of the outstanding students of the Strings and Keyboard departments.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • news archive

    News

    Juan Pablo Contreras receives the 2017 Presser Graduate Award

    February 23, 2017

    Juan Pablo Contreras, a doctoral candidate in the USC Thornton Composition program, has received the 2017 Presser Graduate Award, which honors exceptional graduate students who have the potential to make a distinguished contribution within the field of music. Composition program chair Donald Crockett said that Contreras has been granted a… read more

    more news