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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  • Jazz Voice & Guitar Duo Showcase

    Students from the USC Thornton Vocal Jazz and Studio/Jazz Guitar departments present a showcase of duo performances featuring singers and guitarists.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Percussion Ensemble: The Process of Time

    Joseph Pereira, Thornton faculty member and principal timpanist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, leads the Percussion Ensemble in a concert including pieces by David Lang, JL Adams, and Rolf Wallin.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Music@RushHour - Percussion Showcase

    The USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble, under Joseph Pereira, will showcase some of their favorite recent works. After making their Walt Disney Concert Hall debut earlier this month as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Noon to Midnight festival, the USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble presents a portion of their WDCH program for Music@RushHour audiences. Skip the traffic and enjoy an hour of extraordinary USC Thornton student talent with Music@RushHour. After the concert, stick around for free refreshments!

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Jazz Night featuring the USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra

    Jason Goldman leads the Concert Jazz Orchestra in a celebration of classic cartoon music, as part of an ongoing series featuring a variety of student jazz ensembles. The program will feature original arrangements of some of the most beloved classic cartoon themes.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • USC Thornton Wind Ensemble: Songs & Dances

    H. Robert Reynolds and Sharon Lavery lead the Wind Ensemble in a program of songs and dances, with guest pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald. This concert begins with William Schuman's George Washington Bridge, followed by Gordon Jacob's settings of British folk songs, Old Wine in New Bottles, Leslie Bassett's Lullaby for Kirsten, and Roberto Sierra's “Tumbao” from Sinfonía No. 3, “La Salsa." In the second half, USC Thornton faculty member and pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald joins the ensemble for Ernst Von Dohnányi's Variations on a Nursery Song, followed by Robert Russell Bennett & Nikos Skalkottas's lively Five American and Greek Dances.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Apollo Men's Chorus & Oriana Women's Choir: Tapestry of Song

    The Oriana Women's Choir and Apollo Men's Chorus come together for an evening of exciting choral music by Casals, Ives, Copland, and more.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • LACO-Thornton Strings Mentorship Program: Mock Orchestral Audition

    The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)-Thornton Strings Mentorship Program presents the Mock Orchestral Audition, providing the hands-on experience of a professional orchestra audition. True to the professional process, selected USC Thornton Strings students will play orchestral excerpts behind a screen for a panel of adjudicators including Jeffrey Kahane, music director of LACO; Armen Ksajikian, associate principal cello of LACO; and Josefina Vergara, principal second violin of LACO. At the conclusion of the audition, a special award may be given to an exceptional student at the discretion of the judges, giving them an opportunity to be mentored by a LACO principal musician and to perform as a substitute player during one week of the orchestra's 2016-17 concert season.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra tribute to Drummer Roy McCurdy

    Bob Minzter leads the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra in a tribute to legendary drummer and USC Thornton faculty member Roy McCurdy, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Roy McCurdy has enjoyed an illustrious career, performing with Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, and Benny Golson. This USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra tribute concert will feature arrangements of signature tunes associated with McCurdy's tenure, arranged by Jazz Studies students and his long-time collaborators. Following the concert, music director Bob Mintzer will host a Q&A with McCurdy.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Music@RushHour - Solo Piano, Studio of An Perry

    Students from the studio of An Perry will shine on a solo piano during this week’s Music@RushHour performance.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Jazz Night featuring Jazz Honors Combo

    Jason Goldman and the Jazz Honors Combo celebrate noted trumpeter, composer and alumnus John Daversa (DMA ’09, jazz), in a tribute to his music.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • PopFest

    Over 20 acts take the stage in this mini-festival featuring student bands, singer-songwriters and DJs from the Thornton Division of Contemporary Music.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Music@RushHour: Vocal Chamber Music

    Celebrate Music@RushHour with the talents of USC Thornton Vocal Arts & Opera students.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

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