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 & Sacred Music, Classical Guitar, Composition, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, Keyboard Studies, Organ Studies, Strings, Vocal Arts & Opera, and Winds & 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 Concert Jazz Orchestra

    Music director Jason Goldman leads the Concert Jazz Orchestra in an evening of big band standards and original compositions.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Classical Guitar Masterclass with Tilman Hoppstock

    German guitarist Tilman Hoppstock, noted for his interpretations of Bach, presents a masterclass in classical guitar performance.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Music@RushHour: The Works of Hanna Kulenty

    Students Alexander Zhu, piano and Xander Knecht, violin present a program of music by renowned Polish composer, Dr. Hanna Kulenty, who will also speak about and perform her own music during the concert. A leading gure on the contemporary music scene, Dr. Kulenty is a laureate of the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers and her works are championed by such ensembles as the Kronos Quartet, among others. Skip the traffic and enjoy a free concert of music by USC Thornton students. A free reception follows the performance.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • PPP+: Paganini, Popper, Piatti, and more

    Strings students perform virtuosic solo works, including Paganini caprices, Ernst caprices, Popper etudes, Piatti caprices, and other showpieces. Students showcase their talents in a friendly and social environment, followed by a reception.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • Three Laureates: Poets of the New California

    U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate and Arts Leadership faculty member Dana Gioia, and Los Angeles Poet Laureate Robin Coste Lewis come together on the Bovard stage for a reading and discussion about poetry and the role of place—in particular, the many places of California—in their creative work. The son of farmworkers, Herrera spent his early years living from crop to crop in California’s San Joaquin and Salinas valleys, went to high school in San Diego, attended college at UCLA during the Chicano movement, and now lives in Fresno, California. Dana Gioia grew up in Hawthorne, California, and spent his college years at Stanford. And National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis is from Compton. In a rare joint event, these three highly decorated and deeply rooted California poets will reflect upon how poetry and the written word contribute to our shared yet varied sense of place and community. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Vive La France: A Collaborative Chamber Music Recital

    Karen Dreyfus, director of chamber music at Thornton, leads faculty and students of the Division of Classical Performance and Composition in a program of French chamber music, featuring the Poulenc Trio, Saint-Saens Septet, and Franck Piano Quintet. Faculty performers include Bernadene Blaha, Glenn Dicterow, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Ben Hong, Thomas Hooten, Bing Wang, and Michele Zukovsky. They will be joined by Thornton students Lieza Hansen, Coleman Itkoff, Mann-Wen Lo, Sam Shukan, Justin Woo, and more.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Jazz Night

    Students from Thornton's jazz programs showcase contemporary jazz works at Carson Center. Please note that, due to the closure of Ground Zero Performance Café, this event has been relocated to Carson Center (CTV).

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Vocal Masterclass with Ana Maria Martinez

    Soprano Ana Maria Martinez, currently appearing in LA Opera's production of Carmen, presents a masterclass for Thornton Vocal Arts majors. Martinez enjoys an international performing career that spans the world's most important opera houses and concert halls.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Music@RushHour: The Amicus Duo Celebrates Gay Composers

    Students Alin Melik-Adamyan, piano, and Coleman Itzko, cello, bring their award- winning duo back to Music@RushHour to present a program of all gay composers. Included in the program will be works from Ethel Smyth, Benjamin Britten, Liebermann, and Tchaikovsky. Skip the traffic and enjoy a free concert of music by USC Thornton students. A free reception follows the performance.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Strings Open Performance Evening

    Students of Thornton's Strings program present an evening of solo and chamber performances.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • Thornton Edge

    Donald Crockett leads Thornton Edge, Thornton’s new music group, in a program featuring recent music for voice and ensemble, including works by David Lang and Thornton student composer and vocalist, Tamzin Elliott.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Jazz Night featuring the Thornton Jazz Orchestra

    The USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra, led by music director Bob Mintzer, presents an evening of standards and original compositions as part of an ongoing series of contemporary jazz. Please note that, due to the closure of Ground Zero Performance Café, this event has been relocated to Carson Center (CTV).

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • news archive

    News

    A relaxing summer vacation with Mak Grgić

    September 25, 2017

    USC Thornton alumnus Mak Grgić (MM ’12, DMA ’16) is a very busy man. The Slovenian-born classical guitarist (recently profiled here) is artistic director of both the Zagreb Music Festival and the Biljke i Svirke Interactive Music Festival, director of the Elemental Guitar Program at Elemental Music, an adjunct faculty… read more

    more news