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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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  • Popular Music: Third-Year Showcase

    Third-year Popular Music students present original music written, arranged, and performed under the direction of professors Patrice Rushen and Richard Smith.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Thornton JazzReach Concert

    Young student jazz ensembles from the community perform as part of the USC Thornton Outreach program, funded in part by the USC Good Neighbors Campaign.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Classical Guitar Masterclass with Zoran Dukić

    Thornton's Classical Guitar department presents a masterclass with renowned Croatian-born guitarist, Zoran Dukić.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Forging "The Knife" – Kurt Weill Before Broadway

    Forging “The Knife” explores the roots of Kurt Weill in a performance and conversation with violinist Daniel Hope and pianist and USC Thornton professor Jeffrey Kahane, who will share insights on Weill's compositions, life, and career. Musicians from Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Thornton faculty, and students will join Hope and Kahane in a performance featuring Weill's major chamber works and excerpts from Little Threepenny Music. The ensemble will also perform Gideon Klein's String Trio, which was composed in the Terezin concentration camp shortly before Klein was deported to Auschwitz. This concert is presented as part of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Lift Every Voice project, a three-week event series inspired by the lives and legacies of the courageous émigrés Kurt Weill and Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who were outspoken activists in America's Civil Rights Movement. Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • “Hopscotch” in Concert

    USC celebrates Hopscotch, the world's first mobile opera and one of the most talked-about cultural events of 2015, with a live performance of songs from the groundbreaking work, marking the release of the official cast recording and interactive website. Hosted by Yuval Sharon, artistic director of The Industry, the concert will feature music by composers Veronika Krausas, Mark Lowenstein, Andrew McIntosh, Andrew Norman, Ellen Reid, and David Rosenboom, followed by a post-show reception with members of the creative team, renowned arts journalists, and many of the 20+ Thornton students, faculty, and alumni who were involved in the internationally acclaimed project. A pre-concert discussion at 4:00 PM, What Does Hopscotch Sound Like?, in Wallis Annenberg Hall, Room L105A, will feature a panel including composer and USC Thornton faculty member Veronika Krausas, composer Marc Lowenstein, director Yuval Sharon, and arts journalist Mark Swed. Sasha Anawalt of the USC Annenberg School of Communication will moderate. 4:00 PM - Pre-Concert Discussion, What Does Hopscotch Sound Like - Wallis Annenberg Hall, Room L105A 7:30 PM - Hopscotch in Concert - Newman Recital Hall Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall

    Returning to Walt Disney Concert Hall, maestro Carl St.Clair and the USC Thornton Symphony are joined by Keyboard Studies faculty members Bernadene Blaha and Kevin Fitz-Gerald for an evening of Mozart and Strauss. Blaha and Fitz-Gerald will be featured in Mozart’s artful Piano Concerto No. 10, K.365, for two pianos. In the second half of the program, the ensemble will perform Richard Strauss’s spectacular Alpine Symphony, Op. 64. Program: W. A. Mozart – Concerto, 2 Pianos, No.10, K.365 (316a), E-flat major Richard Strauss – Eine Alpensinfonie, TrV 233, op.64 (Alpine Symphony)

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

  • Opera Scenes

    The singing actors of the USC Thornton Opera program present an exciting and wide-ranging selection of excerpts from grand opera to operetta.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Music Career Night: Turning Career Failures into Success

    USC Thornton Board of Councilors and the Office of Alumni Relations present the sixth annual Music Career Night: Turning Career Failures into Success, moderated by Board of Councilors members, who will lead mid-career music industry professionals in a robust discussion on the importance of pushing past failures to grow and achieve success in your music career.

    Tutor Campus Center (TCC)

  • Cello Masterclass with Steven Isserlis

    Celebrated British cellist Steven Isserlis, in Los Angeles for appearances with the LA Phil, presents a masterclass in cello performance.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • USC Thornton Wind Ensemble: New and Old, Old and New

    H. Robert Reynolds and Sharon Lavery lead the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble in a performance that looks to the past and future in equal measure, featuring an eclectic program that includes Adam Silverman’s Hard Knocks, Wallingford Riegger’s Music for Brass, Op. 45, Carl Reinecke’s Octet, Morton Gould’s “Marches” from West Point Symphony, and Thornton Composition student Ryan Lindveit’s Like an Altar with Nine Thousand Robot Attendants. Program: Adam Silverman – Hard Knocks Wallingford Riegger – Music for Brass, Op. 45 Ryan Lindveit – Like an Altar with Nine Thousand Robot Attendants Carl Reinecke – Octet Morton Gould – “Marches” from West Point Symphony

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Jazz Night featuring the USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra

    Jason Goldman leads the Concert Jazz Orchestra in their popular Video Game Concert, featuring original musical arrangements from some of the most well-known and loved video games.

    Ground Zero Performance Cafe (TRO)

  • Faculty Recital with David Howard and Shawn Mouser

    Renowned Winds & Percussion faculty members David Howard, clarinet, and Shawn Mouser, bassoon, collaborate in a joint recital featuring the Sextet for Winds by Beethoven and the Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon by Francis Poulenc. Program: Ludwig van Beethoven - Sextet for Winds Francis Poulenc - Sonanta for Clarinet and Bassoon

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • news archive

    News

    Daedelus

    Daedelus creates original score for Chaplin film

    November 21, 2016

    USC Thornton Jazz Studies alumnus Alfred Darlington (’00), known professionally as Daedelus, recently presented an original electronic music score to Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 silent film, “Easy Street.” The live performance was part of a film series at Fig@7th known as UnSilent Cinema, in which contemporary musicians perform original accompaniment to… read more

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