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Contemporary Music

By bringing together jazz, industry, technology, popular music, studio guitar, and film scoring into a single learning environment, USC Thornton’s Division of Contemporary Music has created the foundation of a professional network for our students.

“Through interaction, collaboration, and a dynamic curriculum, students in the Contemporary Music Division have hands-on experiences designed to prepare them for careers in music. All under the direction of a truly remarkable faculty, each one dedicated to our student’s development as artists, professionals, and human beings.

USC Thornton has a long tradition of innovative programs. We were among the first in the nation to offer degrees in jazz studies, studio guitar, film scoring, and music industry. This tradition continues with the recent addition of our Popular Music program. Along with our outstanding classical and academic programs, we are one of the most distinctive and comprehensive music programs you will find in the world.


The results of this experience can be found in the success of our alumni. Current and former students are Grammy nominees, in-demand producers, established film composers, touring musicians, recording artists, and accomplished educators.

So, I invite you to come to the USC campus to visit the Division of Contemporary Music and see for yourself—meet with our staff and faculty, sit-in on a class, attend a showcase or concert. As you get to know more, I believe you’ll understand why we take enormous pride in our programs and in USC. I hope to meet you soon!”

Christopher Sampson
Vice Dean
Contemporary Music

event calendar

Upcoming events

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  • Music@RushHour - Classical Guitar

    Keeping with tradition, the first Music@RushHour concert of the semester will showcase an international lineup of performers from the studios of William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant of Thornton’s renowned Classical Guitar program. Following a rousing overture, the concert will revolve around the performance of three major works for guitar: the sonatas of Leo Brouwer, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Alberto Ginastera. Don’t miss it!

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • 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)

  • Jazz Night

    Students from Thornton’s Jazz Studies department present an evening of contemporary jazz as part of an ongoing series. For parking & directions, visit: https://music.usc.edu/map/

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • 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 Sean Friar's Short Winds, Harrison Birtwistle's Carmen arcadiae mechanicae perpetuum, Breakfast Rhythms I and II by Joan Tower, and Timo Andres' Trade Winds.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Jazz Night featuring the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra

    Music director Bob Mintzer and the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra headline this ongoing contemporary jazz series.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • 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

  • USC Thornton Wind Ensemble

    The program opens with Karel Husa's Smetana Fanfare, and William Schuman's George Washington Bridge, followed by Vaughan Williams English Folksong Suite, featuring soloist Katherine Beck. Beethoven's Wind Octet in E-flat major, op. 103 brings up the second half, followed by Paul Dooley's Mavericks, and Hindemith's “March" from Symphonic Metamorphosis.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • 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)

  • Music@RushHour - Polish Music Spotlight

    In this co-production with Polish Music Center, student artists will spotlight the best of Polish music for the Music@Rush Hour audience.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • 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)

  • news archive

    News

    TobySherriff

    Alum Toby Sherriff recognized for work on animated film

    September 23, 2016

    Composer and USC Thornton alumnus Toby Sherriff (GCRT ’15, scoring for motion pictures and television) recently received a SOCAN Foundation Award for his music for Charles Kenhao Mai’s animated film, Parkability. The SOCAN Foundation recognizes Canadian composers aged 30 years or younger for specific musical works in five categories of… read more

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