At the USC Thornton School of Music, we celebrate our location in Los Angeles, the nation’s center for creativity and innovation. As the music profession changes, we are at the forefront of a forward-thinking educational model that prepares students for careers at the highest level as performers, composers, educators and industry leaders.
Explore stories from our Divisions of Classical Performance & Composition, Contemporary Music, and Scholarly & Professional Studies below.
LOS ANGELES: ALL THE CITY’S A STAGE
• Part of a growing trend, students across USC Thornton’s Classical Music & Composition division are forming new chamber ensembles and commissioning their classmates, professors and alumni to create and premiere original works across Los Angeles. READ MORE >
Bringing Music Behind Bars
Evan Pensis, a senior in the Keyboard Studies department, brought music to inmates at an Arizona State Prison.
We Heard Her Here, First
Soprano Yelena Dyachek ’16 was selected as a winner at the Grand Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
“If you monitor the New York arts press, you will quickly understand that Los Angeles is hot. The coast-to-coast current has changed course: young painters, writers and musicians are flocking here.”
— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times music critic
PLAYING THE STAGE OF LEGENDS
• Some musicians go their whole lives without playing the Troubadour, the legendary West Hollywood hall of rock, but every spring seniors in the Popular Music program perform their original music on the same stage where Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Elton John, Carole King and hudreds of others have played. READ MORE >
The Art of the Musical Director
When Karina DePiano came to USC, she didn’t know what a musical director was. Luckily, she enrolled in the Popular Music program.
“We prepare and expect students to work. I recommended a student to sub for me with a big band, and the leader decided he would keep on calling my student instead of me. I thought that was great. It’s thrilling to see your students excel.”
— Peter Erskine, director of Drumset Studies
CREATING A SPACE FOR ARTISTS
• It’s called the Eastside Café, but it isn’t a coffee shop. It’s a community gathering space in East Los Angeles hosting classes, exhibitions and music. Every Saturday, graduate student Angela Flores leads a traditional jam session. Through the USC Arts Leadership program, she is working with her community to convert a group of abandoned bungalows near the café into artists’ studios. READ MORE >
The Missing Maestro
Does a chamber orchestra need a conductor? Clarinetist and Arts Leadership student Benjamin Mitchell doesn’t think so.
Ask the Dean
Each week on Classical KUSC’s “Arts Alive” program, listeners pick the brain of USC Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta.
Bringing Music To Neighborhoods
Each year, more than 125 USC Thornton students provide music programming for more than 10,000 students and adults across Los Angeles.
“We study early music because there is a mistaken notion that old music is outdated. When you perform a piece of music, you are hearing the echoes of music and ideas that still resonate today. It feels alive.”
— Adam Gilbert, director of the Early Music Program