The USC Thornton Symphony is the premier ensemble of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Currently led by Carl St.Clair, the artistic leader of the USC Thornton Orchestras, the symphony has worked with some of the world’s greatest conductors, composers and musicians including Henryk Górecki, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Conlon, the Romeros and Joan Tower.
Since its inception in the early 1900s, the USC Thornton Symphony has been a visible artistic presence in the Los Angeles music community. Collaborations with major figures in the field of music, from Bruno Walter and Leopold Stokowski to Witold Lutosławski, have long defined the symphony as one with tremendous range and ability. After Górecki led the ensemble in the West Coast premiere of his third symphony in 1997, he claimed it to be the best musical ensemble with which he had personally worked.
The USC Thornton Symphony regularly collaborates with the USC Thornton Opera program, most recently this fall in the West Coast premiere of The English Cat, the 1983 opera written by Hans Werner Henze featuring a libretto by Edward Bond. Each year, the symphony presents its annual New Music for Orchestra concert featuring orchestral works by Thornton student composers. The annual event has premiered more than 125 compositions over the past 25 years, often leading to commissions and professional performances by nationally renowned orchestras.
Recent highlights have included a theatrical exploration of the life and music of Tchaikovsky with a multimedia performance of the composer’s final piece, Symphony No. 6, ‘Pathétique,’ and a performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 accompanied by an exploration of the fraught relationship between the composer and Stalin’s Communist regime.