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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 July 2019. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

The Argus Quartet (Clara Kim, DMA ’15, Jason Issokson, MM ’10, Violin)
The Argus Quartet has been invited to participate in a week-long residency program this September at Yellow Barn, an international center for chamber music, encouraging the discovery of music in the studio, classroom and concert hall. The quartet includes USC Thornton alums Jason Issokan and Clara Kim. Two performances will bookend the week, the first on Sept. 23 and the second on Sept. 30.

Calder Quartet
The Calder Quartet, comprised of USC Thornton alumni – violinists Benjamin Jacobson (’01, MM ’07, Violin) and Andrew Bulbrook (’02, Violin), violist Jonathan Moerschel (’01, MM ’03, Viola) and cellist Eric Byers (’03, Cello), has released a new album on Pentatone Records. Beethoven Hillborg includes recordings of Beethoven’s String Quartets No. 3 in D Major Op. 18 No. 3 and No. 14 in C Sharp Minor Op. 131 as well as Kongsgaard Variations by Andrers Hillborg.

Billy Childs ’79, Composition
Childs, a GRAMMY Award-winning artist, headlined the 24th annual New Zealand International Jazz and Blues Festival on June 1. He performed with his quartet alongside Dayna Stephens on saxophone, bassist Alex Boneham and drummer Christian Euman. The five-day, 26-show festival is one of New Zealand’s longest-running music festivals. In addition, Childs will serve as a visiting scholar at Berklee College of Music for the 2019-20 academic year. During his stint in Boston, Childs will teach jazz composition classes, coach a student ensemble and offer master classes.

Coreen Duffy DMA ’14, Choral Music
Duffy, the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Montana, will be presenting at the 2nd International Conference on Jewish Liturgical Music in Hannover Germany.

Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, Composition
Sarah Gibson will join the faculty at the UC Santa Barbara Department of Music and College of Creative Studies this fall as a Teaching Professor in Composition. While there, she will teach courses on composition, music theory, and orchestration among others.

Morten Lauridsen, ’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
Lauridsen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Composition at USC Thornton, recently received a nomination in the Best Choral Recording category of the 2019 Opus Klassik Awards, Germany’s premier classical awards, for “Light Eternal – The Choral Music of Morten Lauridsen.” The recording, which was conducted by Nicol Matt and performed by the Chamber Choir of Europe, was released by the Deutsche Grammophon label and includes many of Lauridsen’s iconic works, including O Magnum Mysterium and Lux aeterna. The latter was performed by the USC Thornton Symphony and Choral Artists last April at Disney Hall in a concert honoring the composer’s retirement from USC.

Michael Lee DMA ’17, Composition
Ensemble Ari will premiere Lee’s “Ghost Break Dance” at the Friends of Chamber Music concert series at the University of the Pacific on September 22. The work was commissioned by the Bay Area ensemble. Additionally, a composition written by Lee while he was at USC, “Unmasked for Classical Guitar,” was selected as one of eight new works for Ablaze Records’ album Millennial Masters, Volume 9.

Seonmi Lee DMA ’19, Keyboard Collaborative Arts
Pianist Seonmi Lee recently joined the collaborative faculty at the Korea National University of Arts, one of the most prominent universities in Korea for aspiring pianists. While there, Lee will be teaching both collaboration and solo piano. Along with a degree from the Korea National University of Arts, she also earned a degree from the Jacobs Schoo of Music at Indiana University and has collaborated with the concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Martin Chalifour.

Bear McCreary BM ‘02, Composition
Bear McCreary was recently interviewed on The Fourth Wall, a podcast that aims to get a behind the scenes look at the film industry from industry professionals. McCreary, who is known for his diverse catalogue of work and innovative scores, offered insights into the process of scoring some of his well-known projects, including movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Jason Saunders MM ’14, Choral Music
Jason Saunders was recently awarded The American prize in Choral Performance for his ensemble this year. Saunders led the Graham-Kapowsin High School Concert Corale to victory in the high school division.

Connie Sheu DMA ’11, Classical Guitar
Connie Sheu will be directing a new guitar program at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts. The Suzuki Guitar program aims to make classical music and instruments more accessible to novice students and utilizes the teaching method of Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki.

Dr. Ethan Sperry MM ’98 DMA ’00, Choral Music
Ethan Sperry was recently recently awarded The American prize in Choral Performance for his ensemble this year. Sperry led the Oregon Repertory Singers to a win in the community chorus division.

Vijay Venkatesh ’17, Piano Performance
The Vieness Piano Duo, which is comprised of Venkatesh and DMA candidate Eva Schaumkell, traveled from coast-to-coast this summer, performing in several concert series in Los Angeles and New Jersey. This included Le Salon de Musiques, Glendale’s Second Saturday and Music Guild series in Los Angeles as well as a performance at the Ocean Grove Auditorium in New Jersey.

Contemporary Music

Jane Bushmaker ’06, Music Industry
Bushmaker has been named Prager Metis CPAs’ newest Director in the Royalty Audit & Contract Compliance Group. Bushmaker joins the international accounting firm after serving as Senior Manager of Digital Audits at Royalty Review Council. In the role, Bushmaker will utilize her extensive experience in conducting royalty examinations for entertainment and music while providing expertise in civil litigation.

Louis Cole ’09, Jazz Studies
In May, Cole and Genevieve Artadi, his partner in their celebrated electronic funk-pop band, Knower, joined Bob Mintzer, chair of the USC Thornton Jazz Studies program, in a performance with WDR Big Band at JazzFest Bonn. Mintzer, who in 2016 became the bandleader of the award-winning band based in Cologne, Germany, has regularly collaborated with Cole in the decade since he graduated, bringing the new age musician back to traditional jazz settings.

Alfred Darlington ’00, Jazz Studies
Alfred Darlington, better known as Daedelus, will release a new album entitled Bittereinders on Brainfeeder this Friday. The abum will close out his End of Empure musical trilogy that began in 2010 with the release of Fists of Harmony. This upcoming album is inspired by the Second Boer War.

Moonchild (Amber Navran ’12, Max Bryk ’11, Adris Mattson ’13, Jazz Studies)
Moonchild, a band formed by Jazz Studies alumni Amber Navran, Max Bryk, and Andris Mattson will start their national tour this fall for their recent album Little Ghost, which was released in September 2019. The group will be having a free performance this Wednesday at Amoeba Music to celebrate the album release and the start of their tour.

MUNA (Katie Gavin ’15, Josette Maskin ’16, and Naomi McPherson ’15, Pop Music)
Muna, an acclaimed band made up of 3 Pop Music alumna, was recently featured on NPR’s Morning Edition. The group discussed relationships and their ability to connect as well as their newest album Saves the World, which NPR called: “a shimmering homage to that cause.”

Jaimie Pangan MM ’19, Screen Scoring
Jaimie Pangan recently received a Hollywood Music in Media award nomination in the category of Contemporary Classical/Instrumental for her song “Farewell.” Past winners have included Luudwig Göransson (GC ’08) and Lady Gaga. The ceremony will take place on November 20th at the Avalon in Hollywood.

Henry Solomon ’18, Jazz Studies
Henry Solomon is featured prominently in the music video for HAIM’s new single, “Summer Girl,” that has surpassed over a million views in two days. Throughout the video, Solomon, who studied with Bob Mintzer while at USC Thornton, follows the Haim sisters, playing the saxophone, as they walk throughout Los Angeles.