Thornton new music ensembles sparkle in LATimes review

Two new music ensembles featuring USC Thornton students and faculty were reviewed in the Los Angeles Times for a recent performance as part of Tuesdays@MonkSpace. The HOCKET piano due includes DMA Composition student Thomas Kotcheff (MM ’12) and Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson (MM ’10, DMA ’15). The Sakura ensemble centers around five cellists: Jonathan Dormand (GCRT ’14), Michael Kaufman (MM ’12, DMA ’15), Yoshika Masuda (GCRT ’12), Peter Myers (MM ’10, GCRT ’13), and Sarah Rommel (GCRT ’14), all of whom are current students of faculty member Ralph Kirshbaum. “Both groups, which alternated throughout the program,” reviewer Mark Swed noted, “are products of USC and are brilliant.”

HOCKET performed works by Andy Akiho, Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Ryan Harper, John Cage, and the duo’s own Thomas Kotcheff on toy pianos and iPads. Swed wrote that the duo “employed toys and objects galore as noisemakers to create a crazy, ever-changing soundscape.”

In various combinations, the five cellists of Sakura performed pieces by Olli Mustonen, Helmut Lachenmann, Krzysztof Penderecki and Sofia Gubaidulina. “The superb Sakura had everything to do with embracing a small acoustically buoyant room in a luminous glow,” enthused Swed.

Tuesdays@MonkSpace is an ongoing performance series curated by Thornton alumnus Aron Kallay (DMA ’09, piano performance) and Jason Heath, with help from composers Adam Borecki (MM ’15) and Colin Horrocks. “The focus is on local young composers and performers,” notes Swed. “[Tuesdays@MonkSpace] is quickly becoming an essential place for anyone who wants to keep up.”