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Alumni Accomplishments

The USC Thornton School of Music is proud to share the accomplishments of our outstanding alumni. These achievements represent only a small sampling of the great work our alumni are doing around the world.

The list below includes accomplishments submitted since April 2021. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

Michael Abels ’84, Composition
4/12/21 – Michael Abels was interviewed in Variety about composers of color in the film industry by Thornton faculty member and music writer Jon Burlingame.

Erin Colwitz MM ’04, DMA ’07, Choral Music
6/25/21 – Erin was elected as the incoming President of The Michigan Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.

Kate Crellin ’19, Choral Music
5/14/21 – Choral alum Kate Crellin is one of two winners of the 2021 CCDA/George Heussenstamm Composition Competition with her work “Home – Thoughts, from Abroad.”

Sarah Gibson MM ’10 DMA ’15, Composition
5/21/21 – Sarah Gibson’s work “warp & weft” will be performed on this summer’s Los Angeles Philharmonic Hollywood Bowl Season with Gemma New conducting. The performance will be held on August 5, 2021.

Kyle Gilner ’16, Violin Performance
4/13/21 – The Zelter Quartet won the Gold Prize at the 2021 Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition. The annual competition in Easton, Maryland was held virtually this year. The Los Angeles-based quartet includes violist Nao Kubota; cellist Allan Hon, a Doctoral student; and violinists Kyle Gilner and Gallia Kastner.

Daniel Kim ’16, Choral Music
7/8/21 – Daniel Kim has been accepted to Sandford Law School after receiving his MM from the Sacred Music Institute at Yale

YuEun Kim GCRT ’15, AD ’17
4/27/21 – Thornton alumni Etienne Gara and YuEun Kim were featured on the Volkswagen website for their project, MusiKaravan. Over the last year, the two violinists have been traveling to farms and wineries in a restored 1971 red Volkswagen Westfalia, bringing music outdoors to essential workers.

Veronika Krausas DMA ’01, Composition
5/7/21 – On May. 8, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra presented the world premiere of Caryatids by Veronika Krausas, Thornton Composition professor and alumna

Nao Kubota MM ’19, Viola Performance
4/13/21 – The Zelter Quartet won the Gold Prize at the 2021 Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition. The annual competition in Easton, Maryland was held virtually this year. The Los Angeles-based quartet includes violist Nao Kubota; cellist Allan Hon, a Doctoral student; and violinists Kyle Gilner and Gallia Kastner.

Garrett McQueen MM ‘12, Bassoon
5/19/21 – Trilloquy, a podcast hosted by USC Thornton alum Garrett McQueen and Scott Blankenship was featured in a New York Times article about the recent flourishing of classical music podcasts.

Vince Mendoza MM ’85, Composition
6/16/21 – USC Thornton faculty member and alum Vince Mendoza was featured in Jazz Times magazine about Freedom Over Everything, his latest album and debut on the new Modern Recordings label.

Yotsawan Meethongkum MM ’21, Choral Music
7/8/21 – Yotsawan Meethongkum is a new PhD Student in Musicology At Chulalongkorn University – Bangkok Thailand

Lawrence Mumford DMA ’89, Composition
5/4/21 – Last summer, agents for the Janacek Philharmonic, a professional orchestra in the Czech Republic, approached Lawrence Mumford about recording a 10-minute orchestral piece called “Adagio: Of Times and Seasons.” It is now available on Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music as the first track on a CD called PRISMA 5. It will also be featured on KUSC’s “Play On” and has been provided to YouTube by Naxos of America.

Brad Parese MM ’21, Choral Music
7/8/21 – Brad has been selected in a Vocal Music teaching position with two elementary schools in the Mount Diablo Unified School District.

Scott Rieker DMA ’19, Choral Music
6/14/21 – Dr. Scott Rieker’s, Director of Choral Music & Music Education, was named a semi-finalist in the American Prize for Composition, in the Choral Music division for his setting of five poems by former US Poet Laurate, Ted Kooser, entitled “Ted Kooser Suite.”

Nina Shekhar MM ’20, Composition
5/6/21 – Composition alum Nina Shekhar has been selected to be the Young Concert Artist’s Composer-in-Residence for 2021.

Shelby Stroud MM ’21, Choral Music
7/8/21 – Shelby has been selected as the new Choral Director at O’Banion Middle School in Garland ISD.

Daniel Strychacz MM ’15, Choral Music
6/15/21 – Daniel has been Appointed as Visiting Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

Maura Tuffy ’19, Choral Music & Vocal Arts
Maura is staying on an extra year at Yale after receiving her MM in Choral Music From Yale.

Dale Warland PHD ’65
7/8/21 – Internationally renowned choral conductor Dale Warland is the 2021 recipient of The American Prize National Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Contemporary Music

Ambrose Akinmusire MM ’07, Jazz Studies
5/4/21 – Jazz Studies alum Ambrose Akinmusire was featured in an article for about jazz musicians pushing the genre into the future.

Jongnic Bontemps GRCT ’12, Screen Scoring
4/30/21 – Jongnic Bontemps was featured in Variety about writing scores for four documentaries centered around the lives of Black Americans.

Grant Fonda GRCT ’13, Screen Scoring
6/15/21 – Grant’s score for DATING AND NEW YORK had its world premiere with the film as a part of Tribeca’s 30th Anniversary Festival in June 2021.

Renée Elise Goldsberry MM ’97, Jazz Studies
5/24/21 – Tony Winner and Jazz Studies alum Renée Elise Goldsberry will be co-starring in Marvel’s new series, “She-Hulk”, centered around Bruce Banner’s cousin with similar Hulk powers.

Isaac Lucas BS ’15, Music Industry
5/26/21 – Music Industry alum Isaac Lucas, also known under his stage name Relaye, was profiled by the Daily Trojan about his career path as a producer so far.

Jensen McRae ’19, Popular Music
5/11/21 – Pop alum Jensen McRae was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about vaccine-themed songs for her single, “Immune”.

Gretchen Parlato GRCT ’03
4/15/21 – The April 2021 issue of Jazzwise Magazine featured Grammy-nominated composer & vocalist Gretchen Parlato as the cover story.

Garry Schyman ’78
4/19/21 – Garry Schyman, a Thornton alumnus and current faculty member of the Screen scoring program, received an award from the Society of Composers & Lyricists.

Jermain Stegall GRCT ’04, Screen Scoring
4/22/21 – Jermaine Stegall was interviewed by several publications including American Songwriter about his work on “Coming 2 America,” which recently premiered on Amazon Prime.

Nick Stoubis ’97, MM ’00, Guitar
5/13/21 – Thornton alum and Chair of the Studio Guitar program, Nick Stoubis, was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award by the USC Academic Senate.

Anne Thomas BM ’19, Guitar, BS ’19, Music Industry
6/21/21 – Guitar and Music Industry alum Anne Thomas just released a new music video for song “Poison.” It was a full collaboration between USC students both from the film and music schools.

Remi Wolf  ’18, Popular Music
5/5/21 – Pop alum Remi Wolf was selected amongst 25 rising artists as part of the Fender Next Class of 2021.

Research and Scholarly Studies

Elizabeth Palmer DMA ’17, Music Education
6/30/21 – Thornton alum Elizabeth Palmer has been selected for the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Future of Music Faculty Fellowship. Doctoral candidates Nicolas Benavides and Angelica Brooks were also selected.

Vera Wagman GCRT ’16, Arts Leadership
4/8/21 – Vera Wagman directed Petit Rat, a documentary which will premiere at the 2021 Miami Jewish Film Festival. It takes place in 1940 and is about a French Jewish girl’s dream of becoming a ballerina destroyed by World War II.