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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 many accomplishments of our alumni across the world.

The list below includes those accomplishments submitted since Spring 2016. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia is the subject of a short profile in the Nov. 21 issue of The New Yorker, ahead of the premiere of her viola concerto, Unearth, Release, with the New York Philharmonic this week. Music critic Alex Ross explored the development of the concerto, which was commissioned by the orchestra in 2014 and was composed especially for violist and Thornton alumna Cynthia Phelps ’78. She was also one of 12 artists chosen by the New York Philharmonic to receive the 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, which celebrates up-and-coming artists.

Bill Alves MM ’87, DMA ’91, Composition
Bill wrote a book Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick with Brett Campbell released by Indiana University Press. Bill will curate, present and perform in concerts throughout 2017 including the microtonal festival, MicroFest, as a centennial celebration of Lou Harrison, whom he first met as a USC graduate student.

Robert Annis MM ’74, Clarinet
Westminster Choir College, a music conservatory associated with Rider University of Princeton, New Jersey, has named its Playhouse venue in honor of Robert, who served as the College’s dean from 1992-2014.

Esther Armendariz ’13, Trombone
Esther was named second trombone of the Stockton Symphony in Stockton, CA.

Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10, Harp
Alison recently spoke about her research on music’s influence on health and development at USC’s Vision & Voices event: Music and Medicine: Experiments and Explorations.

Timur Bekbosunov GCRT ’06, Music Performance
Timur and his band, Timur and the Dime Museum, will have their music video for “Cobalt Blue” featured on Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment channel. They also premiered two songs on April 19 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall from “Artaud in Black Lodge,” an opera currently in development. He returned in May to premiere a role of Voltaire in “Theater of the World.” His new project, “Love, Honor, Obey” was showcased May 27 at the Boston Court Theater, and premiered a role of Strang in the “Anatomy Theater” at the Redcat Theater on June 16-19. Visit Timur’s website here.

Donnie Bell ’11, Music
Donnie released a collection of loops titled Ouroboros. Visit Donnie’s website here.

Eva Beneke GCRT ’09, DMA ’12, Classical Guitar
Eva will perform with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, March 11th. The concert will include the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, an “hour-long, 13-part song cycle inspired by poems and illustrations by Nathaniel Bellows.” Visit Eva’s website here.

Richard Bernstein ’89, Vocal Arts
Richard will receive an award commemorating his 20 years as a Principal Artist with the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, March 31. During Richard’s tenure with the MET, he has sung in 341 performances and cast in 32 different roles. Visit Richard’s website here.

Steven Bernstein MM ’84, Composition
Steven took second place in The American Prize’s professional choral composition division for his cantana “To Speed Them All.” Visit Steven’s website here.

Robin Buck, MM ’85, Vocal Arts
Robin performed the roles of Pangloss and Voltaire in the Long Beach Opera’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” which ran from January 23 – 30. Visit Robin’s website here.

Christoph Bull MM ’93, Organ
Christoph is featured in the recording of a piece for the upcoming movie Ghostbusters, in theaters July 15. Visit Christoph’s website here.

Calder Quartet
The Calder Quartet, which includes Benjamin Jacobson MM ’07 and Andrew Bulbrook ’02, violin, violist Jonathan Moerschel MM ’03, and cellist Eric Byers ’03, will present a program of Schubert, Schoenberg and Cerrone as part of the Colburn Celebrity series at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2017. They also recently performed Morton Feldman’s notorious String Quartet No. 2 at the Met Cloisters museum in New York City. They will also become Artists in Residence at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica next year.

The ensemble will present three concerts in March, April, and May of 2017, performing six of Beethoven’s string quartets, as well as newly commissioned works by Christopher Cerrone, Thornton Composition faculty member Ted Hearne, and alumnus Andrew McIntosh GCRT ’12, early music.

The group also performed at the Kennedy Center Terrace on February 28.

Tim Callobre ’15, Music, GCRT candidate, SMPTV
Tim was recently profiled by OZY magazine. They discuss his prodigious experience as a classical guitarist and his emergence in film scoring.

Alan Chan DMA ’08, Composition
Alan, winner of the George Duke Commissioning Competition, will premiere his new work during the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Concert on May 7 in Long Beach.

Janet Chapple ’57
Janet released her third book about Yellowstone National Park, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis, available June 1st.

Chelsea Chaves MM ’15, Vocal Arts
Chelsea hosted a benefit recital on June 1 at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood. She also sang the National Anthem at the Lakers vs. the Grizzlies game at the Staples Center on March 22. She made her debut with the Opera Santa Barbara on April 22 & 24 and attended the Musiktheater Bavaria in July. Visit Chelsea’s website here.

Eunghee Cho ’16, Cello
Eunghee has won 2nd Prize – Cello Division – at the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China. Cho was also awarded a special prize for his performance of a new work by Chinese composer Damin Ren, as seen in the video.

Yejee Choi DMA ’16, Choral Music
Yejee was appointed Interim Director of the Choral Program at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton, California, where she directs the Pacific Singers, the Oriana Women’s Choir, and the University Chorus. She is also the Director of the Stockton Youth Chorale.

Edward Cibener ’83, Piano
Edward recently performed a recital entitled “Morts pour la France,” which featured the works of Stanford-based composer William Byron Webster.

Coleman Itzkoff MM ’16, Cello
Cellist Coleman Itzkoff and pianist Alin Melik-Adamyan ’12, MM ’14, piano, who perform as the Amicus Duo, a recently earned top prizes at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition, winning second prize overall and a special prize for best performance of Arthur Gottschalk’s Some Assembly Required.

Will Cravy ’14, MM candidate, Double Bass
Will was awarded 3rd Place in the 2016 Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition.

Colin Davin ’09, Classical Guitar
Colin was recently appointed to the guitar faculty at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

Harold Daugherty MM ’67, DMA ’76, Church Music
Dr. Daugherty conducted a performance of John Rutter’s “Requiem” at La Canada Congregational Church on May 22.

Robert deMaine, Cello
In January 2018, non-degreed alumnus and LA Philharmonic principal cellist Robert deMaine will be featured as soloist with the LA Philharmonic led by conductor Susanna Mälkki in the U.S. premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Concerto for cello and orchestra.

Nové Deypalan MM ’09, Choral Music
Nové will be music directing and conducting El Camino College’s production of “Into the Woods.” He was also recently awarded a Special Commendation Award in the Conducting Masterclass competition with the London Classical Soloists. Visit Nové’s website here.

Antoine Diel ’96, MM ’99, Vocal Arts
Antoine recently released his second album “In My Father’s House” which is available now on his website. Visit Antoine’s website here.

Yelena Dyachek MM ’16, GCRT candidate, Vocal Arts
Yelena who was recently hailed “magnificent” by the Los Angeles Times, won the Grand Finals for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

David Ferneau MM ’15, Trombone
David won a trombone position with the Disneyland Band in Anaheim, CA. Visit David’s website here.

Bronte Ficek ’15, Choral Music
Bronte explores the effects of group singing on patients with Parkinson’s Disease in her work as a clinical neuroscience researcher at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. As part of her research, Ficek acts as assistant and accompanist for the Parkisonics, a choir for patients with the condition. She has also devised a rhythmic finger-tapping exercise to help patients improve their motor skills.

Naomi Florin ’11, Violin
Naomi was music director and violinist for THE WOODSMAN, an imaginative theatrical experience about the Tin Man. Visit Naomi’s website here.

Robert Frear MM ’03, Trumpet
Robert was promoted to full Professor of Music at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University Long Beach.

Daniel Gee MM ’15, Choral Music
Daniel was recently appointed Conducting Fellow at the Long Beach Symphony, where he will assist incoming Music Director Eckart Preu and other guest conductors throughout the upcoming season.

Grant Gershon ’85, Piano
Grant will conduct LA Opera’s production of The Tales of Hoffmann on April 6th.On April 22, 2017, the USC Alumni Association will honor seven distinguished alumni, including conductor and USC Thornton Board of Councilors member Grant Gershon, at the 84th annual Alumni Awards.

John Glover MM ’07, Composition
John and current DMA candidate Daniel Temkin were two of four winners of the Mirror Visions Ensemble’s (MVE) Inaugural Young Composers Competition. Their newly commissioned pieces for the ensemble will be presented as part of MVE’s 25th season.

Jeffrey Grant GCRT ’14, Music Performance
On January 17, several alumni and USC Thornton Percussion faculty celebrated legendary composer Steve Reich’s 80th birthday in a special Green Umbrella concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil). Faculty member James Babor joined alumni Jeffrey Grant, Nick Terry DMA ’11, and Matthew Howard ’12, who is principal percussionist for the LA Phil, in a performance of Reich’s Mallet Quartet. The program also included performances of Reich’s Tehillim and the West Coast premiere of Pulse.

Mak Grgic MM ’12, DMA candidate, Classical Guitar
Mak joined the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra on Saturday for their “Latin Rhythms” concert, showcasing works from Gershwin, Rodrigo, Moncayo, and Bernstein. He was also featured in the February 25th issue of The Daily Trojan, where he spoke about his involvement in Thornton’s weekly Music@RushHour concert series. Visit Mak’s website here.

Eric Guinivan MM ’08, DMA ’11, Composition
Eric was recently awarded a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University and the Andrew Imbrie Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a composer of demonstrated artistic merit in mid-career.

Saad Haddad ’14, Composition
Saad was commissioned by the California Association of Professional Music Teachers to compose a new work for flute, viola and harp to be premiered on October 15 at California State University, Long Beach. Visit Saad’s website here.

Ian Hallas MM ’15, GCRT candidate, Double Bass
Ian recently won a position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Vincent Ho DMA ’05, Composition
USC Thornton Composition alumnus, Vincent has been named music advisor for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Visit Vince’s website here.

James Newton Howard DMA, Piano
The works of GRAMMY Award-winning film composer and USC Thornton alumnus and Board of Councilors member James Newton Howard will be celebrated in a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall this November.

At the London concert, Newton will conduct an orchestra and choir to coincide with memorable film scenes projected overhead.

Matthew Howard ’12, Percussion
Matthew will begin his new position as principal percussionist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic when the ensemble opens its 2016-17 season on September 27.

Robert Istad DMA ’06, Choral Music
Robert is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Professor Award at Cal State Fullerton University.

Cheri Jamison ’06, Vocal Arts
Cheri was recently promoted to Vice President of Operations for Cadenza Artists, a rapidly growing music agency and management company. Visit Cheri’s website here.

Tomas Janzon MM ’00, Classical Guitar
Tomas promoted his latest album “Experiences” on several tours throughout Brazil, USA, and Europe. Additionally, he completed a tour with his jazz trio titled “From New York to Korpilombolo,” where he received rave reviews. Visit Tomas’s website here.

Somang Jeagal ARTD ’15, Piano
Pianist and USC Thornton alumnus Somang Jeagal recently performed at the Phillips Collection art museum in Washington, D.C., as a part of the “Phillips After 5” music series. Jeagal performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2, as well as Chopin’s four piano scherzos.

Roy Johnston DMA ’75, Clarinet
Roy recently released a biography titled, “Roy K. Johnston: A Life in Sound, Color and Word.” Visit Roy’s website here.

Peter Kairoff DMA ’80, Piano, DMA ’85, Accompanying
Peter recently released his seventh album featuring the piano music of Franz Schubert.

The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless music collective founded by current arts leadership student Benjamin Mitchell and alumnus Michael Kaufman MM ’12, DMA ’15, cello, will premiere works by USC Thornton alumni Saad Haddad ’14, Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, and Gernot Wolfgang GCRT ’94, as well as Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, among others, for its 2016-17 season.

The next program, which will include Saad Haddad’s Takht and Veil of Leaves by Julia Adolphe, takes place October 7 & 9.

Alexander Kato-Willis MM ’10, DMA ’13, Piano
Alex recently composed the score for the French documentary “Thanks to Your Noble Shadow,” a film about the last Irish missionary nun in Japan. Alex is currently an Applied Piano Instructor at Cuesta College.

Michael Kaufman MM ’12, DMA ’15, Cello
Michael and current student Benjamin Mitchell’s conductor-less ensemble, The Kaleidoscope Chamber Ochestra, was recently profiled in the Los Angeles Times following their performance of two long-form pieces by Olivier Messiaen and John Russell at the Glendale City Church in February 2015. Visit Michael’s website here.

Alison King ’10, Vocal Arts
Alison was a regional winner in the Upper Midwest Region of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Tristan Koester ’15, Composition
Tristan recently premiered a piece entitled “Memory Fragments” with the Varied Trio, a chamber ensemble featuring alumni Yuri Inoo MM ’04, DMA ’09, percussion and Aron Kallay DMA ’09, piano. Visit Tristan’s website here.

Nikhil Korula ’01, Vocal Arts
Nikhil started a songwriting team called “The Element,” and wrote the opening track of Ziggy Marley’s new album “Start it Up.” In addition, he reunited with his acappella group, Allright, to sing the national anthem at the Lakers vs. Magic game at the Staples Center on March 8. His band (The Nikhil Korula Band) headlined two sold out shows at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and will open for Eric Hutchinson at Summerfest 2016 in Milwaukee.

Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Thomas was recently awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship, which is given to composition students of great promise. Visit Thomas’s website here.

Veronika Krausas DMA ’01, Composition
Hopscotch, the world’s first mobile opera, inhabited the city’s streets last November and came to USC in January in a concert performance. Among the project’s cutting-edge artistic team were more than 20 students, faculty, and alumni of the USC Thornton School of Music, including faculty composers Veronika and Andrew Norman ’02, piano, MM ’04, composition.

Cho Eun Lee DMA ’13, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Keyboard Collaborative Arts alumna Cho Eun Lee will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Collaborative Piano/Vocal Coach at Lee University in Tennessee beginning Fall 2016 and will be an accompanist at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria for the summer. Visit Cho Eun’s website here.

Owen Levine MM ’09, Music Performance
Owen recently won a section bass position with the Colorado Symphony. Levine previously performed as a Fellow with the New World Symphony.

Jason Lo MM ’12, DMA ’16, Piano
Jason and Micah Wright DMA ’15 recently won the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Woodwind State Competition. This month, they will perform in the Regional Competition in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Steven Logan GCRT ’15, Percussion
Steven was recently named principal timpanist of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO).

Gina Luciani MM ’13, Flute
Gina played the flute solo on “Down Under” with Colin Hay of Men at Work on ABC’s “Greatest Hits Live!” Finale. She also released her self-titled debut album on April 26. Visit Gina’s website here.

Matthew Mason MM ’02, Piano
Matthew was commissioned by the San Antonio International Piano Competition to write a piano piece for the finalists to perform. He will also be the judge of the special award, “Best Performance of the Commissioned Work.”

Robert McClure MM ’88, Horn, MBA ’99
Robert was named Lecturer Emeritus of the Finance, Real Estate and Law Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Robert is Principal Owner and Portfolio Manager at McClure Investment Management, L.L.C. where he focuses primarily on working with musicians and performance organizations. Visit Robert’s website here.

Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
Film composer and alumnus Bear McCreary was recently interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered about his success as a film and television composer. Visit Bear’s website here.

Lansing McLoskey MM ’92, Composition
Lansing is the winner of the choral category (professional division) of the 2016 American Prize in Composition.

David Means DMA ’97, Choral Music
David founded the Valley Choral Artists, South Texas’s first semi-professional chamber choir, in 2013 after he was appointed Director of Choral Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Visit David’s website here.

Drew Mikuška ’16, Composition
Drew, a graduate student in the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program, was recently honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation with the Betty Rose Scholarship. Visit Drew’s website here.

Scott Morris ’94, Classical Guitar
Scott was unanimously elected to serve as the next Department Chair for the CSU Dominguez Hills Department of Music. Dr. Morris has served as the Supervisor of Guitar Studies for the past decade and has a proven track record of successful recruitment and program building.

Sally Mosher MA ’74, JD ’81
Sally released SOUNDINGS, which features improvisations of electronic music. GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng DMA ’91 also recently performed two Sally’s harpsichord compositions for Piano Spheres Concerts and the Harpsichord Center Artist Series.

Peter Myers MM ’10, GCRT ’13, Music Performance
Peter is the new associate principal cello of the San Francisco Opera. In November, he was selected from a pool of over 50 invited cellists to join the company’s orchestra. Visit Peter’s website here.

Thomas Newman, Composition
Alumnus and Board of Councilors member Thomas Newman received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Music – Original Score for his score to “Bridge of Spies.”

Julia Newmann, Composition (Film Scoring)
A work by alumna Julia Newmann was recently performed by a 55-piece orchestra as part of “The Women Who Score: Soundtracks Live.” Visit Julia’s website here.

Andrew Norman ’02, Piano, MM ’04, Composition
Thornton alumnus and composition faculty member Andrew Norman’s new work , A Trip to the Moon, will receive its U.S. premiere in two LA Philharmonic performances featuring the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus in March 2018. “Play,” a 47-minute orchestral work, was also the subject of “Andrew Norman’s ‘Play,’ a Symphony That Levels Up,” an article in the January 16 issue of The New York Times. Music critic David Allen wrote admiringly of Norman’s “wizardry” and “achievement”, calling his piece “a revolution in music.” Andrew also received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his compositional work. Only 12 composers are chosen for this prestigious international honor. He will work on two upcoming operas, for the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony, and for the Opera Philadelphia. Andrew premiered his work “Play: Level 1” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under conductor Gustavo Dudamel on February 25, 2016. The LA Phil will perform the work on their upcoming European tour. Visit Andrew’s website here.

Olivier Ochanine MM ’07, Conducting
Olivier recently won first prize at the 2015 Antal Doráti International Conducting Competition in Budapest.

Cameron O’Connor DMA ’14, Classical Guitar
Cameron was recently a guest artist at Loyola Marymount University’s Guitar Festival. Visit Cameron’s website here.

Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Patrick will have the west coast premiere of his piece, “Paths Penumbra” on Friday, January 13 at the Los Angeles Theater Center. The piece was selected by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra during their scores competition last year. He also received The 2015 American Prize in Composition in the Student division for his work “Even in Paradise.” Alumnus Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV, also received recognition for his work “Orbit” in the Orchestra division. Visit Patrick’s website here.

Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Jules received the Harold Arlen Film & TV Award at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Film Scoring Workshop this past summer. He was also selected to participate in the 2016 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, a month-long immersive program for aspiring composers of film, TV, and other visual media. Visit Jules’ website here.

Cynthia Phelps, Viola
Cynthia, principal violist of the New York Philharmonic, recently performed with the Les Amies Trio for the San Antonio Chamber Music Society’s 74th season. She was also profiled in Strings magazine on the occasion of the orchestra’s November premiere of a concerto written for her by Composition doctoral candidate Julia Adolphe MM ’12, composition.

Elizabeth Pitcairn ’02, Music Performance
Violinist and USC Thornton alumna, Elizabeth recently appeared on Trojan Vision’s nightly talk show, CU@USC. Pitcairn discussed the history behind her legendary 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius violin and then performed with the instrument.

Derek Polischuk ’01, MM ’04, DMA ’06, Piano
Derek founded “Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life,” a weeklong intensive providing music students with autism the chance to preview life as a collegiate musician.

Katherine Redlus MM ’16, Harp
Katherine is currently an ensemble member with the award-winning Four Larks, which opened The Temptation of St. Anthony and will run until September 11. Visit Katherine’s website here.

Keenan Reesor MM ’10, Piano, DMA candidate, Musicology
Keenan accepted a tenure track position at Southern Virginia University to teach music history and piano this fall. He also performed with the Fort Collins Symphony this past April. visit Keenan’s website here.

Ryan Reithmeier DMA ’16, Vocal Arts
Ryan recently accepted a position as Director of Opera at Azusa Pacific University where he has served on the vocal faculty since 2015.

Carrie Rexroat MM ’15, Horn
Carrie will join the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra as their new Second Horn in the 2016-17 season. She was also one of five musicians chosen to participate in the International Cultural Exchange Program. She will spend 10 months performing with the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. Visit Carrie’s website here.

Daniel Robbins MM ’76, Composition
Daniel adapted and orchestrated a concert suite from the classic Miklos Rozsa score for MGM’s Julius Caesar, which was performed at the BBC Concert Orchestra’s “Shakespeare at Stratford” concert on April 23 and conducted by Keith Lockhart. Dr. Robbins also appeared with the Atlanta Symphony last November as guest lecturer for his “Music and Our Responses to Film” presentation. Visit Daniel’s website here.

Mark Robson MM ’89, Piano
Mark presented an adventurous program as part of REDCAT’s Piano Spheres series at REDCAT last month, featuring works by Stockhausen, Glass, and Rihm. Robson also premiered new work by the Los Angeles composer Daniel Rothman. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times described Robson’s Piano Spheres performance as “magnificent.”

Adrian Ruiz ’62, MM ’64, Piano
Adrian performed a live recording of the Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens (AR Records), which also featured fellow alumnus Dr. Clarence Wiggins DMA ’66, music education, as the conductor. Visit Adrian’s website here.

Jason Sabino ’13, Choral Music
Jason was unanimously selected to become the next Artistic Director of the Oregon Chorale. He is also the new Director of the Chancel Choir and Congregational Singing at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, OR.

Carrie St. Louis ’12, Vocal Arts
Carrie will be performing in the Broadway production of “Wicked” as Glinda starting February 2. Visit Carrie’s website here.

Tomomi Sato ’15, Piano, MM Candidate, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Tomomi was named the winner of the 2016 Sundays Live audition through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She will perform a program featuring the works of Bach, Schumann and Wild on September 11.

Jason Saunders MM ’14, Choral Music
Jason was recently featured in a video exploring the choral program of the Bethel, Washington, School District. Visit Jason’s website here.

Jo-Michael Scheibe DMA ’85, Choral Music
The Graduate Choral Conducting Competition was held at the ACDA national conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was widely attended by Thornton Choral & Sacred Music students and faculty. Department chair Jo-Michael Scheibe presented two sessions related to the publication of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, for which he served as editor. Several alumni also presented at the conference including Saunder Choi MM ’16, composition, Jerry Blackstone DMA ’86, choral music, Noreen Green DMA ’91, choral music, and Buddy James DMA ’98, choral music.

Nadia Schpachenko MM ’99, DMA ’04, Piano
Nadia performed six commissioned works for her “Poetry of Places” concert and recording project to enthusiastic reviews of the New York premiere.

Garry Schyman ’78, Composition
USC Thornton SMPTV faculty Garry Schyman, will have the world-premiere of his viola concerto, Zingaro, performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony on August 21. Visit Garry’s website here.

Brittany Seits MM ’13, GCRT ’15, Bassoon
Brittany recently published “Preventing injury for instrumental musicians,” an interview with physical therapist, Dr. Erin Hayden. Brittany currently serves as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission for USC Thornton.

Abigail Shapiro ’15, Vocal Arts
Abigail performed the role of Madame de Tourvel in The Dangerous Liaisons at the Manhattan School of Music, which was recorded live with Albany Records.Visit Abigail’s website here.

George Shaw ’04, Composition (Film Scoring)
George was commissioned to compose for “Through the Glass Ceiling,” a contemporary ballet project and the theme song and score to “Escape the Night,” a YouTube Red Original Series. Visit George’s website here.

Toby Sherriff GCRT ’15, SMPTV
Composer and USC Thornton alumnus, Toby recently received a SOCAN Foundation Award for his music for Charles Kenhao Mai’s animated film, Parkability. Sheriff took 3rd place for Best Original Animated Score. Visit Toby’s website here.

Zhe Song GCRT ’15, Violin
Zhe recently won a position with the Spokane Symphony. Visit Zhe’s website here.

Marek Szpakiewicz MM ’01, DMA ’08, Violoncello
Marek has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Cello Studies at Azusa Pacific University’s (APU) School of Music. Szpakiewicz has been teaching cello at APU since 2005 and is the Director of Chamber Music. He was also featured in a special charity concert with legendary pianist Fuzjko Hemming on March 13 at the Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Visit Marek’s website here.

Ryan Tani ’15, Vocal Arts
Ryan had his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall Stage with the Manhattan Chorale on April 18, conducting Johannes Brahms’ “Warum ist das Licht gegeben,” Op. 74, No. 1. Ryan was the undergraduate winner of the 2015 American Choral Directors Association Conducting Competition.

Malesha Jessie Taylor MM ’05, Vocal Arts
Malesha recently published essays about diversity and the arts ecosystem and will be a guest speaker at the Sacra Profana Summer Choral Intensive. Visit Malesha’s website here.

Scott Tennant, Classical Guitar
Classical guitar faculty member Scott Tennant was profiled in the November/December issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine for his project to record an album of compositions by virtuoso guitarist, Andrés Segovia.

Thornton Bass Tuba Quartet
The Thornton Bass Tuba Quartet (which includes alumni Brandon Davis MM ’13, DMA candidate and James Similuk ’15, MM candidate) has been invited to compete at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference this summer.

Michael Tilson Thomas ’67, Piano, MM ’76, Conducting
Michael will bring violinist Gil Shaham and the San Francisco Symphony to Walt Disney Concert Hall on March 27, 2018 for a program inspired by early 20th century Vienna.

Dale Catherine Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
The choral works of Dale, and the world premiere recording of her 35-minute secular requiem “How to Go On” will be featured by the Choral Arts Initiative on their first album release on March 24.

Kristof Van Grysperre MM ’02, Conducting, MM ’00, DMA ’05, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Kristof made his New York City Opera debut conducting the November production of Fallujah, an opera by composer Tobin Stokes inspired by a U.S. Marine’s struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of duty in Iraq. He will also be conducting two new operas, “Fallujah” and “ANYA17.” Visit Kristof’s website here.

Steven Vanhauwaert MM ’06, GCRT ’08, Piano
Steven released two collaborative albums: “Joseph Woelfl: The Paris Years” and “Pensées Intimes,” the first volume in “The Musicians and the Great War” series. Visit Steven’s website here.

Janise White MM ’81, Piano
Pianist and conductor Janise White’s CD, DVD and Arrangements of Ignatius Sancho’s music for the Duke John Second of Montagu have been archived in the British Library Repository (2015). They were exhibited at the West Africa Exhibit held at the British Library from October 2015 to April 2016.

Jaco Wong MM ’16, Choral Music and Composition
Jaco participated in the Taipei International choral Festival 2016, where he conducted the Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Orchestra performing Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and sang Mozart’s Requiem under the baton of Gabor Hollerung.

Micah Wright DMA ’15, Clarinet
Micah won 2nd place in the Backun International Clarinet Competition in early March. The competition featured 16 participants from 8 different countries. Micah also received honorable mention in the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition held at the Flint Institute of Music in Michigan. Micah and Jason Lo MM ’12, DMA ’16 recently won the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Woodwind State Competition. This month, they will perform in the Regional Competition in Honolulu, Hawaii.Gamble House in Pasadena also collaborated with USC Thornton to present a four-part music series entitled “House Music,” which featured student pianist Vijay Venkatesh, cellist Annie Jacobs-Perkins ’18, and clarinetist and alumnus Micah Wright, performing works by Beethoven, Muczynski, and Brahms.

Joseph Amante Y Zapata DMA ’02, Choral Music
Joseph was recently promoted to Full Professor of Music at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Contemporary Music

Ambrose Akinmusire MM ’07, Jazz Studies
Amrbose received rave reviews for his recent performance at Chicago’s Constellation. Visit Ambrose’s website here.

Julie Boardman ’04, Music Industry
Julie produced fellow USC alumnus Forest Whitaker’s highly anticipated Broadway debut in Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie. Visit Julie’s website here.

Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, SMPTV
Peter’s performances of his Grammy-nominated work Ellis Island: The Dream of America with the Pacific Symphony on April 7th and 8th will be filmed for a national broadcast debut on PBS’ Great Performances in the 2017-18 season, with subsequent broadcasts planned over the next three years. Peter also had his work Silver Fanfare performed by The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, for the orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert at Severance Hall. Wilkins had previously conducted Silver Fanfare (originally commissioned by the Pacific Symphony) to open the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s seasons in 2015 and 2016. He also had Silver Fanfare chosen to open the Hollywood Bowl season for the second consecutive year. Peter also orchestrated music alongside Thornton Board of Councilors members James Newton Howard on The Huntsman: Winter’s War and Thomas Newman on Finding Dory. Peter recently conducted three shows on Josh Groban’s Stages tour. Visit Peter’s website here.

Ben Bram ’10, Music Industry
Ben and popular music alumnus Scott Hoying won GRAMMY Awards for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella” for their arrangement of Pentatonix’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Visit Ben’s website here.

Jacques Brautbar ’15, GCRT ’16, Screen Scoring
USC Thornton Screen Scoring alumnus Jacques was recently profiled by “Film School Shorts,” a national series showcasing student filmmakers by San Francisco’s KQED Public Television. In the piece, Brautbar recounts his non-traditional career path and provides valuable insight into the balance between creative artistry and effective collaboration in the screen scoring process.

The band Brightener featuring popular music alumni Will Sturgeon ’12 and Aman Alem ’14 performed at Coachella 2016 and placed first in the Tachevah Battle of the Bands competition.

Malia Civetz ’16, Popular Music
Malia recently sang the National Anthem at the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Earlier this year, Civetz performed Steve Hackman’s mash-up of rapper Drake’s music and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Tchaikovsky V. Drake with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She will reprise Hackman’s piece on March 22 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Gerald Clayton ’07, Jazz Studies
Gerald will be featured in performances of Erroll Garner’s Concert by the Sea on March 8, 2018 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a concert celebrating the 100th birthday of legendary pianist Thelonious Monk.

Brandon Cordoba MM ’13, Jazz Studies
Brandon released a new album, “BLACKdiamonds.” Exclusively instrumental, the album combines retro and current R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Soul for a unique sound. Visit Brandon’s website here.

Rosalind Elizabeth Crane BM ’13, Popular Music
Rozzie will perform at Hotel Cafe’s Second Stage in Los Angeles as part of a spring residency. Crane, who was part of the Popular Music program’s inaugural class, is scheduled to perform February 2, March 2, April 6, and May 4.

Alfred Darlington ’00, Music
Alfred, known professionally as Daedelus, recently presented an original electronic music score to Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 silent film, “Easy Street.” He also released a new album “Kneedelus,” in collaboration with the acclaimed ensemble Kneebody. On this new album, Alfred goes back to his roots in jazz, combining it with his electronic style. Visit Alfred’s website here.

Tamar Davis ’02, Music Industry
Tamar performed at the 9th annual MojaMoja Brunch & Benefit concert last month, celebrating the life and musical legacy of Prince. Davis was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for the 2006 song “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed,” which she wrote with Prince. She was also a recent contestant on NBC’s The Voice.

Chris de Silva ’02, Composition (Film Scoring)
Chris recently released a new album, titled, Colours (GIA Publications). Visit Chris’s website here.

Gabriel DiMarco GCRT ’14, SMPTV
Gabriel was a winner in the 2016 Ghana Movie Awards in the category “Music (Original Score)” for his work on Children of the Mountain.

Karim Elmahmoudi GCRT ’07, SMPTV
Karim had his latest work, “Earthrise,” performed by La Sierra University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on May 21. The performance was conducted by fellow alumnus Giovanni Santos, MM ’07, music education. Visit Karim’s website here.

Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Grant Fonda composed the score for USC’s advertisement which aired during the NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the University of Alabama. The spot featured fellow Thornton alumnus Sezin Turkmenoglu GCRT ’14, jazz studies, and several current Thornton students. Visit Grant’s website here.

Erik Fong ’01, Music Industry
Erik was a candidate for San Jose City Council District 6. Visit Erik’s website here.

Nora Germain ’14, Jazz Studies
Nora recently authored a book entitled, Go For It… Surviving the Challenges of Becoming an Artist. Presented as vignettes from Germain’s professional life story, the book strives to encourage young artists to find their entrepreneurial spirit.

Ian Gibson ’04, Studio Guitar
Ian was appointed as Director of Law and Finance at UC Irvine Extension. Visit Ian’s website here.

Danielle Gillman ’01, Music Industry
Danielle created “Birdhouse for Autism,” a mobile application for parents raising children with disabilities.

Kathleen Grace MM ’04, Jazz Studies
USC Thornton Jazz Studies faculty member and alumna Kathleen hosted a night in tribute to legendary songwriter and Thornton Board of Councilors member Randy Newman on February 10 at the Blue Whale. Visit Kathleen’s website here.

Heather Guibert ’06, Music Industry
Several USC Thornton music industry alumni were nominated for 2017 Guild of Music Supervisor Awards. Alumna Heather Guibert ’06 was nominated for 2017 Guild of Music Supervisor Award for Best Music Supervision in a Television Drama Rosewood, and for Best Song/Recording Created for TV for “Does She Love” performed by Gabrielle Dennis on Rosewood. Brienne Rose ’04 was nominated for Best Use of Music by a Music House for her work with Spotify. Jojo Villanueva ’99 received two Best Music Supervision for Film nominations for his work in Sing and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.

Adam Hawley ’06, MM ’08, DMA ’10, Studio Guitar
Adam released his debut album “Just the Beginning” on March 18. He also toured with Dave Koz. Visit Adam’s website here.

HOCKET, DMA Composition student Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, composition, and Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, composition, had their newest performance video of Aaron Holloway-Nahum’s Remember Me? featured on I Care If You Listen. HOCKET has spent over two years working on “Remember Me?”.

Brian Robert Jones BM ’15, Popular Music
Bassist Brian Robert Jones recently performed with singer Gwen Stefani at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas following on the heels of Stefani’s 28-city, “This Is What The Truth Feels Like” tour, on which Jones performed from July through October of 2016.

Patrick Kirst GCRT ’03, SMPTV
Screen Scoring faculty member and SMPTV alumnus Patrick Kirst was recently quotedby Variety in an article on shifting trends in film scoring.

Robert Lydecker ’08, Film Scoring, GCRT ’09, SMPTV
USC Thornton Screen Scoring alumni Robert, Kenny Wood GCRT ‘09, SMPTV, and Harrison Lee GCRT ’12, SMPTV, worked on the score for Paramount’s new film XXX: Return of Xander Cage, which was released this past January. Wood and Lee served as arrangers on the project, while Lydecker co-scored.

Divya Maus ’14, Popular Music
Divya authored a guest column for, where she wrote a wide-ranging article about her journey from popular music to musical theater.

Tigran Martikyan ’98, Jazz Studies
Not too long ago, in February 2015, Tigran had a vision to build his own Music Institution, now called Martikyan Music Center! After one year of hard work, Mr. Martikyan was able to build his sophisticated, small theatre-like venue featuring custom designed furnishings, wall sculptures, and more–all selected and designed by Mr. Martikyan himself.

Vince Mendoza MM ’85, Jazz Studies
The WDR Big Band will release an album of music by USC Thornton Jazz composer and alumnus Vince Mendoza, who is currently Composer in Residence and 1st Guest Conductor for the Cologne, Germany, based ensemble. Homecoming, which will be released March 3rd, features 7 original tracks composed especially for the band and recorded live at two concerts. Vince Mendoza has also been appointed Composer in Residence and 1st Guest Conductor for the WDR Big Band’s upcoming season. Visit Vince’s website here.

Olivia Mitchell ’14, Music Industry
Olivia and fellow USC alumni Kerry Furrh ’14 and Cailin Lowry ’14, produced a short film, Girl Band, which will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Olivia wrote and produced the original songs and score for the project. Fellow USC Thornton alumna Madison Scheckel ’14, popular music, also co-wrote one of the songs. Visit Olivia’s website here.

MUNA, a trio which includes popular music alumna Katie Gavin ’15 and Josette Maskin ’16, along with Naomi McPherson, was featured on the February 6th episode of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing two songs from their latest album, “About U.” The band caught the world’s attention with their 2016 single, “Loudspeaker.” which took the top spot in ShortList’s “50 Best Songs of 2015”.

Amber Navran ’12, Jazz Studies
Amber has contributed to a feature article on that presents jazz majors with advice for building a music career after college.

The article also includes tips from Thornton jazz studies alumni Greg Johnson MM ’12, DMA ’15 and Daniel Weidlein ’12.

Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
Derik sang a special cameo on ABC’s Modern Family episode which aired on May 4. He also recently released his latest YouTube cover: “Like I Would” by ZAYN. Visit Derik’s website here.

Greg Reitan ’96, Composition (Film Scoring)
Greg and his trio composed of jazz studies alumni Jack Daro ’93, MM ’99, and Dean Koba MM ’93, were featured in the Los Angeles Times for their recent performance at the Norton Simon Museum. They also performed at the Blue Whale on May 5. Visit Greg’s website here.

Duncan Thum ’06, GCRT ’13, SMPTV
Duncan was nominated for his second consecutive Primetime Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)” for his work on Chef’s Table. Visit Duncan’s website here.

Jeremy Tisser GCRT ’12, SMPTV
Jeremy won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Song/Score – Special Feature for the theme in the docu-series “Composers on Composing.” He also released a new feature film “Actor for Hire” on iTunes. The score features alumnus John Urban MM ’13, jazz studies. Visit Jeremy’s website here.

Ray Zepeda MM ’98, Jazz Studies
Saxophonist, founder, and artistic director of the Bakersfield New Music Collective, Ray recently organized a tribute concert for the serial composer, Milton Babbitt. The free event, entitled “Re-Imagining Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration for an Exceptional American,” took place at The Mark in downtown Bakersfield and featured seminal pieces by Babbitt, as well as original pieces by Zepeda and other members of the Collective. Performances ranged from solo DJ sets to an 11-piece ensemble

Scholarly & Professional Studies

Richard Brown MA ’07, Music History & Literature, PHD ’12, Musicology
Richard recently accepted a position with Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. as manager and in-house forensic musicologist of the Infringement Compliance Unit.

James Hurd DMA ’73
James was recently honored as a Washburn Alumni Fellows in November 2015. This award is given to distinguished alumni who’ve achieved notable success.

Diane Wittry ’83, Music Education, MM ’85, Conducting
Diane was a featured guest at the National Conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association, which was held on January 14-16 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Diane, along with fellow alumni Yehuda Gilad and David Srebnik ’97, were featured in Musical America as part of their “Top 30 Professionals of the Year,” a list featuring a very distinguished group of individuals. Visit Diane’s website here.