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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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  • USC Thornton Symphony: Tchaikovsky's Fourth

    Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Symphony in a theatrical and musical presentation of Tchaikovsky’s impassioned Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. The emotional urgency of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, is said to reflect the composer's struggles with health issues, a failed marriage, blackmail, his brother’s criminal activities, money problems, closeted homosexuality, and vicious rumors. In this performance, actors will bring Tchaikovsky's melodrama to vivid life with readings from his correspondences and program notes as the music unfolds. Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Faculty Recital: Sarah Gibson & HOCKET

    Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson presents HOCKET, a piano-duo collaboration with alumnus Thomas Kotcheff, in a program featuring two world premieres by Thornton composers. The concert will feature music by USC Thornton faculty and alumni, including the world premieres of Donald Crockett's “Capriccio II” and Sean Friar's “Come Again,” as well as compositions by Stephen Hartke, Sarah Gibson, Jordan Nelson, Thomas Kotcheff, and others.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Symphony: Dance as Music

    Drawing inspiration from dance, Sharon Lavery conducts the USC Thornton Symphony in two works originally conceived as ballet: Stravinsky's “Petrushka“ and Ravel's “Boléro.”

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Faculty Recital: Antoinette Perry, Michele Zukovsky, James Walker & Ben Hong

    Pianist Antoinette Perry will be joined by faculty members Michele Zukovsky, clarinet, James Walker, flute, and Ben Hong, cello, in a wide-ranging chamber music recital. The program will include Beethoven's Bagatelles, Op. 119 for piano; Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Clarinet Sonata, Op. 28; Jon Kimura Parker's "Pan Dreams" for flute and piano; and Brahms' Clarinet Trio, Op. 114.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Chamber Music Masterclass with Arnold Steinhardt

    Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet, presents a chamber music masterclass.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • Thornton Edge

    Donald Crockett leads the Thornton Edge new music ensemble in a program of contemporary works by distinguished British and American composers. The performance will feature Harrison Birtwistle's “Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum” and “Breakfast Rhythms” by Joan Tower.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Faculty Recital: Cherry Rhodes with Ladd Thomas & Douglas Masek

    Organ Department faculty member Cherry Rhodes performs a recital at Los Angeles' iconic downtown cathedral with guest artists Ladd Thomas and Douglas Masek. The program will feature the world premiere of Fr. Joseph Walter's "Chorale, Diferencias and Glosas on Puer Natus in Bethlehem," Olivier Messiaen's "Combat of Life and Death," and Rayner Brown's Sonata for Organ Duet, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone and Clarinet featuring USC Thornton faculty organists Cherry Rhodes and Ladd Thomas and saxophonist/clarinetist Douglas Masek.

    Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

  • Baroque Sinfonia: In stile moderno

    Rotem Gilbert leads the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia in a program of virtuosic music from seventeenth-century Italy. The concert will feature virtuosic Italian music by Claudio Monteverdi, Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Barbara Strozzi, Luca Marenzio and Dario Castello, as well as a fiery Vivaldi bassoon concerto performed by Leah Kohn.

    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 original compositions for sextet.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Violin Masterclass with Pamela Frank

    Award-winning violinist Pamela Frank leads a masterclass with some of the outstanding students of the Strings department. Frank currently holds the Herbert R. and Evelyn Axelrod Chair in Violin Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. This masterclass is presented in collaboration with Frank's husband, physiotherapist Howard Nelson.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • USC Thornton Symphony: New Music for Orchestra

    Donald Crockett, chair of the Composition program, leads the USC Thornton Symphony in this annual concert featuring original works by student composers. Over the past 25 years, the New Music for Orchestra (NMO) event has premiered more than 125 compositions, often leading to professional commissions and international recognition.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Popular Music: Second-Year Showcase

    Headed by faculty member Sean Holt, second-year Popular Music program students focus on stylistic nuance, groove and ensemble technique, taking their performances to the next level of artistry. Come see Popular Music students perform as part of what Rolling Stone calls “the cutting-edge department that’s become the site of one of Los Angeles’ most productive new music scenes.”

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • news archive

    News

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    Marilyn Horne celebrated at Music Academy gala

    July 27, 2016

    USC Thornton alumna Marilyn Horne was honored at a gala concert on June 4, 2016 at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where she is director of the Voice Program. The concert, which opened the Academy’s 2016 Summer School and Festival, featured performances by vocalists Simone Osborne,… read more

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