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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 Spring 2018. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia was featured on New York’s WQXR as one of 11 female composers in honor of International Women’s Day. Adolphe spoke about her own influences: composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Paola Prestini, as well as her mother, architect Adrian Grad.

Richard Bernstein ’89
He has just reached a career milestone with his 400th performance with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Thornton Vocal Arts and Opera alum started with the company in 1995 and since has performed in more than 30 roles.

Shana Blake Hill MM ’12, Vocal Arts
She is one of the featured guest soloists in the Verdi Chorus’ 35th anniversary Spring 2018 concert The Force of Destiny. Shana Hill has appeared in many other opera companies and is well known for her vocal abilities in both operatic and orchestral repertoires. The founding Artistic Director, Anne Marie Ketchum, has nicknames Hill “Cords of Steel” for her outstanding vocal ability.

Jacob Broussard ’18, Choral Music
He received the Wilma Mankiller Fellowship for Tribal Policy and Governance, administered by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Broussard, who previously received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship to undertake ethnomusicological research, will be working in Washington D.C. at the Embassy of Tribal Nations, where he will assist national leaders on aspects of tribal policy for one year.

Eric Byers ’03
He was one of the three cellists invited to perform last minute at the US premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Cello Concerto. When the original soloist was unable to perform, Byers, along with two other cellists, divided and conquered the solo in three days. Despite the setback, the performance was a success.

Jessica Rose Cambio MM ’06, MM ’08; Alexandra Loutsion MM ’08, GRCT ’10, Vocal Arts
They starred together in the Tulsa Opera production of Puccini’s Turandot. The production was a part of their 70th Anniversary season. Loutsion and Cambio portrayed Turandot and Liù, respectively, under the baton of conductor James Lowe.

Timothy Campbell MM ’09, GCRT ’11, Vocal Arts,
He recently made his LA Opera mainstage debut in Candide with Kelsey Grammer. Campbell was also nominated for a 2017 Voice Arts award and a 2018 Audie award for Claim and Protect. Finally, Campbell was featured in Amazon Classic’s brand new production of Moby Dick as the narrator.

David Castillo MM ’13
He has been very active with the Los Angeles Philharmonic recently. He performed as a soloist with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel in Bernstein’s Mass from February 1-4. He also performed in the world premiere of Annie Gosfield and Yuval Sharon’s War of the Worlds with the LA Phil in November 2017. In May 2017, he also made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.

Billy Childs ’79
He was one of the two Thornton graduates to earn a Grammy this past Saturday. Childs earned his award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album with his album Rebirth.

Edward Cibener ’83, Piano Performance
He recently performed as the guest artist with the San Francisco City Chorus in Gaylon Babcock’s arrangement for Piano, Organ, and Chorus of Mendelssohn’s Walpurgisnacht. The performance was conducted by Larry Marietta and took place at the historic Cavalry Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.

Jack Cimo ’11, Guitar
Cimo and classical guitar doctoral candidate Bo Byun are semi-finalists for the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, which will take place in Buffalo, New York, on June 6, 7, and 9. The semi-finals will be streamed live online at

Ronald Davis DMA ’84; Zach Collins MM ’05, DMA ’07; Steve Williams MM ’85
Davis and Collins will perform on the first night of USC Thornton faculty member Jim Self’s recital, which includes a composition by alumnus Steve Williams.

Nové Deypalan MM ’09
Nové will be serving as Guest Conductor of Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Orchestra on March 3, 2018

Albert R. Diaz BA ’10, MM ’12
He has just been given the position of Associate Chair of the Music Department at Walla Walla University in Washington State. Currently a doctoral candidate in musicology at U.C. Los Angeles, Diaz’s research interests include the musical and cultural identities of the Pacific Coast.

Kira Dills-Desurra BM ’10; Gibran Mahmud MM ’17; Alexandra Martinez Turano MM ’16, Vocal Arts
The Long Beach Opera premiered its performance of Frank Martin’s The Love Potion. The cast included three USC alums: Gibran Mahmud MM ’17, Kira Dills-Desurra BM ’10 and Alexandra Martinez Turano MM ’16. The Long Beach Opera is internationally recognized for their fresh interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO is also the oldest opera company in the LA/OC area with 110 past operas performed.

Francisco Fullana GCRT ’15, Violin
He has released a debut album, “Through the Lens of Time,” recorded with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carlos Izcaray. The album is centered on Max Richter’s contemporary reworking of Vivaldi’s iconic Four Seasons and also includes works by Schnittke, Salvador Brotons, and Isang Yun.

Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, Composition
She has been selected as Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Sound Investment composer for the 2018-19 season. Gibson will premiere a new work with the ensemble on January 26th and 27th, 2019, following several invitation-only salon performances for LACO patrons.

Reyna Gordon ’01, Vocal Arts
Reyna is not the Director of the Music Cognition Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she studies the connections between rhythm and grammar, and how rhythm and music training might help children with atypical language development. She was also featured on NPR for her word.

Mak Grgić MM ’12, DMA ’16
Mak, an Artist Diploma candidate in the USC Thornton Classical Guitar program, has released an album, MAKrotonal, which uses especially re-fretted instruments to reexamine standard repertoire and to present newly commissioned works.

Kevin Hartnett BM ’13
Kevin had his recent choral work De profundis performed by The Zurich Chamber Singers in Zurich, Switzerland. The piece, which was commissioned by the ensemble and premiered in 2016, was also recorded as part of their debut album and will be released by ARS Produktion in 2018.

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, which was founded by clarinetist and USC Thornton alumnus Benjamin Mitchell GCRT ’17, arts leadership, presented the world premiere of a commission by Composition chair Donald Crockett on May 12th and 13th, 2018. The new concerto for grand piano, two toy pianos, and chamber orchestra, And the River, will be performed in collaboration with the HOCKET ensemble, which includes DMA candidate Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, composition, and Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15.

Staff Sergeant J.G. Miller DMA ’13, French Horn
He was invited to compose the U.S. Cyber Command March and was premiered by The United States Army Field Band at the National Security Agency on May 4th, 2018 in recognition of the elevation of the U.S. Cyber Command to become the Department of Defense’s newest Unified Combatant Command.

Andrew Norman ’02, MM ’04,
Composer and USC Thornton faculty member, Andrew Norman, recently debuted his new children’s opera, A Trip to the Moon. It was warmly reviewed in the Los Angeles Times following its U.S premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 2nd at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Tomas Janzon MM ’00
He played a free improvisation and 3 compositions by Jose Ferrer: Ejecicio 26, Ejecicio 28 and Ejecicio 8 at a concert in Österbybruk in Sweden on August 2017.

He was also honored on May 23 by American Scandinavian Society with the 2018 Lifetime Honorary Award.

Somang Jeagal AD ’15, GCRT ’17, MM ’18
The Music in the Mansion concert series, which presents chamber music at the historical Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, recently published a video showcasing a February performance by pianist and 2018 Outstanding Graduate Jeagal.

Jake Kraft ’14, Trombone
Kraft took a position with the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.”

Morten Lauridsen, ’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
He celebrated his 75th birthday with a special concert at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Glendale on Sunday, March 4th. The celebration featured the Donald Brinegar Singers in a performance of Lauriden’s beloved Lux Aeterna, O Magnum Mysterium, and The Nocturnes, with the composer accompanying from the piano.

He received an honorary doctorate from Pennsylvania’s Muhlenberg College. He has previously earned honorary degrees from Whitman College, Oklahoma State University, Westminster Choir College, and King’s College at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. At the May 18th ceremony in Allentown, Lauridsen spoke about his music and the Muhlenberg Choir performed several of his best-known works.

Michael Lee DMA ’17, Composition
He is the winner of the 2018 New Orleans Chamber Orchestra/Spectri Sonori Composition Competition for his work Echoes for Strings and Piano. It will premiere on June 15th by the NOCO at the Marigny Opera House. His other work Unmasked is one of three winners of the 2018 ICC “The Contemporary Guitar” Composition Competition.

Anna Lenhart MM ’17
She recently won the position of principal horn with the Hawaii Symphony. During her studies at USC, Lenhart was a member of the Scholarship Woodwind Quintet and also participated in the Music Academy of the West Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, the Debut Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and Hans Zimmer’s Live Tour.

Christina Linhardt ’97
Christina just became the new staff writer for the California Philharmonic. She created their new “Meet the Musician” series, where she interviews a different member of the orchestra each week, so each virtuoso gets their well-deserved time in the spotlight.

Ryan Lindveit ’16, Composition
He is one of six emerging composers whose works will be performed by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) during the organization’s Underwood New Music Readings on June 21st and 22nd in New York City. Lindveit, who was USC’s Salutatorian and a Thornton Outstanding Graduate in 2016, will present his orchestral work, Like an Altar with 9,000 Robot Attendants, which was premiered by the USC Thornton Symphony in 2015.

Garrett McQueen MM ’12, Bassoon
He recently joined the hosting team of Classical 24, a nationally-syndicated radio program produced by American Public Media and Public Radio International. McQueen, who formerly hosted “The Afternoon Concert” on Knoxville’s WUOT-FM, is also an accomplished musician, performing with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Knoxville Symphony, among others.

Lawrence Mumford DMA ’89, Composition
He recently had two original compositions place in the national competition known as the American Prize. His choral piece, Quietem is a semi-finalist in the professional choral division, and his orchestra piece Santa Cruz Island is a finalist in the professional orchestra division. Both pieces may be heard at

Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Patrick was recently selected as the Sioux City Symphony’s Composer of the Year for 2018. O’Malley’s string orchestra piece Loneliness in a Beautiful Place was selected as the winner, and he will be in Sioux City Iowa from Feb. 7th to 11th for rehearsals, along with some educational and outreach functions put on by the symphony.

Troy Quinn DMA ’14, Choral Music
He lead two concerts with the Venice Symphony Orchestra of Venice, Florida, on May 4th and 5th, 2018. The concerts, themed “A Tribute to Music in Cinema,” will feature Thornton faculty member and former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Glenn Dicterow, performing notable movie themes by composer and honorable USC alumnus, John Williams. Dicterow will perform the theme from Schindler’s List, as well as music from the film Far and Away.

He was also named the new Music Director for The Venice Symphony of Venice, Florida. His first performance as music director will be a “Fiesta Italia” concert in November. He succeeds Imre Pallo, who served one year as interim music director, after the 2016 departure of Kenneth Bowermeister, who led the orchestra for seven years.

Vicki Ray DMA ’88
Vicki recently had her recording of River of 1,000 Streams (composed by Daniel Lentz) reviewed by “I Care If You Listen.” Reviewer Nick Stevens referred to Ray as a “Los Angeles luminary” and her performance as “colorful, nuanced.”

She performed a notable minimalist work, River of 1,000 Streams by composer Daniel Lentz, for the Soundwaves New Music series at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday, May 16th, 2018. Ray’s recording of the piece, for electronically-processed piano, was warmly received by critics last year.

Elizabeth Roberts MM ’01, bassoon
She won the contrabassoon position with the Virginia Symphony and joined the orchestra in the 2017-18 season. She also joined the faculty of the New England Music Camp during the summer of 2017, and will return there for the summer of 2018.

Giovanni Santos MM ’07
The United States Naval Academy Band’s Brass Ensemble recently premiered a work by Santos, written for and performed by trumpeter Matt Harriman MM ’08. Voyages was performed on January 28th at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., under the baton of Lieutenant Commander Diane Nichols. Also performing in the ensemble was horn player and alumna Erika Loke ’12.

Jim Stanley MM ’79, Composition
The Topanga Symphony Orchestra premiered Jim Stanley’s Introduction and Scherzo for Violin and Orchestra on March 4 at the Topanga Community House.

Tatiana Taylor DMA ’17, Choral Music,
She has accepted a faculty position as Director of Choirs with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, beginning in the fall. She is in good company with alumnus Christopher Haygood DMA ’13, Associate Director of Choral Studies at Oklahoma State University, and doctoral candidate Karsten Longhurst, who is Director of Choral Music and Assistant Director of Music Education at ‎Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Robert Thies ’93 MM ’95, Piano Performance
He has been appointed the new Artistic Director of the South Bay Chamber Music Society, an organization founded 55 years ago, which provides free admission concerts to audiences in the Southern Los Angeles area.

Vince Womack MMED ’97
The article, The Trojans Bringing Arts Education Back to Kids and Schools highlights the success of this Thornton alumnus, whose innovative curriculum as music director of the James A. Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles allows his students to explore a variety of different musical experiences.

Jenny Wong MM ’13
Jenny debuted as associate conductor at the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s December 10th performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, was recently reviewed by music writer Douglas for the website Seen and Heard International. Dutton wrote that Wong “brought beauty, balance, subtlety and strength when required,” and noted that Wong’s “finely nuanced direction balanced the complexity of the musical texture with a clear and unfussy account of the score.”

James Zimmerman ’04, Clarinet
Zimmerman, principal clarinetist of the Nashville Symphony, recently published a video detailing production of the ensemble’s 2018 recording of a clarinet concerto by composer and faculty member Frank Ticheli. The previously-unrecorded work was included on the ensemble’s album of wind concertos, recorded under music director Giancarlo Guerrero, and released in February on the Naxos label.

Contemporary Music

Karina DePiano ’16
She performed with Singer Troye Sivan on Saturday Night Live. DePiano has performed with several artists such as Rita Ora, Daya, and Miley Cyrus. The SNL performance comes just weeks after her performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Dixie Jade
Country duo Dixie Jade, made up of USC Thornton alumni, pianist/vocalist Andrea Crisalli ’11, vocal arts, and guitarist/vocalist Dominique Ruiz ’11, music, are rising in popularity. The Nashville-based duo was recently featured on the public television series, Songs at the Center, where they performed, Grit and Amazing Grace.

Billboard recently profiled the band Fabriq on the release of their third single, “Get Behind the Feeling.” Band members Daniel Davila ’18 and Cooper Bell ’18 are both recent graduates of the USC Thornton Popular Music program and draw inspiration from Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and Jamiroquai.

Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
He has garnered global attention and several nominations for Best Original Score for his score for the multi-award winning documentary Down the Fence (2017). His score for the highly anticipated The Dating Project (2018) releases nationally alongside the film in theaters this April. He continues to receive commissions for new concert music across the US, and has recently served in Music Departments for films such as Finding Dory and Spectre. He has also served as an orchestrator for the late James Horner’s Titanic Live, currently touring internationally.

Ross Golan ’01, Music Industry
And The Writer Is…, a podcast by multi-platinum songwriter Golan, recently released an episode recorded at a Spring 2018 Popular Music Forum, featuring Thornton students and vice dean Chris Sampson. The podcast’s featured guest, GRAMMY-nominated producer Joe London, has released hit singles with Pitbull, Jason Derulo, Fifth Harmony and LunchMoney Lewis.

Molly Miller ’11, DMA ’16, Studio Guitar
She was recently published in Premier Guitar, in the first article of an ongoing series. Her piece, entitled “Dr. Molly’s Guitar Lab: The Badass Riffs of Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” breaks down the compositional patterns behind the “Original Soul Sister’s” distinctive riffs, while providing basic instruction on this style of guitar playing.

Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
He has been selected, along with members of his family, by the U.S. Department of State to represent the country as cultural ambassadors for the United States. The musical trio, “Derik Nelson & Family,” is comprised of himself, his sister Riana and brother Dalten. The trio will perform and teach internationally in the coming year, traveling to underserved regions of the world to share their music. They are one of 15 bands bestowed with this opportunity. Derik Nelson & Family also just completed a 30 date national headlining tour.

Hiroe Sekine ’09, Jazz Studies
She recently won First Place in the jazz category of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for the song “Nippon Barre” from her 2017 album, One World One Sun. The album, produced by Jazz Studies faculty member Russell Ferrante, blends traditional Japanese instrumentation with jazz styles and features performances by Peter Erskine (drums), Ferrante (melodica) and alumnus Larry Koonse ’84 on tenor ukulele.

Elise Solberg ’18
She recently performed with Chloe x Halle, Beyoncé’s protégés, at the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. The performance was on June 16th, but it aired nationally on June 18th, 2018. The Awards show was hosted by Tiffany Haddish. Other performers included Nick Jonas with DJ Mustard.

Daniel Weidlein ’12, Jazz Studies
He will release his debut album, Fire in the Sky, on June 22nd. A preview single, The Red Line Suite, is now available for purchase. Weidlein will present a special album release concert at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles on June 25th, featuring Divya Maus ’14, popular music, who also performed on the record, as well as Roberto Giaquinto, Raviv Markovitz, Christian Li, Erin Bentlage, Kyle Barnett, and a string quartet.

Scholarly & Professional Studies

Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10
She spoke this past weekend at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. Balbag has doctorates in gerontology and harp performance, and she currently does research on the affects music has on health. As a harpist, she has performed on Modern Family and Glee as well as played with artists like Stevie Wonder and Yo-Yo Ma. Balbag has recorded for Google and has coverage across National Geographic and Psychology Today.

Reyna Gordon, PhD, BM ’01, Vocal Arts,
She has been awarded an NIH NIDCD K18 career development grant entitled “Mapping the Genetic and Neural Architecture of Human Rhythm and Communication Traits.” This federal funding will allow Dr. Gordon to conduct more research on the biological basis of music. Dr. Gordon is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.