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Alumni

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 December 2020. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.

Classical Performance & Composition

Irene Apanovitch-leites DMA ’19, Choral Music
2/2/21 – Choral & Sacred Music alumni Irene Apanovitch-Leites and Scott Rieker co-authored an article in the February issue of Choral Journal, which focuses on vocal pedagogy. Apanovitch-Leites and Rieker’s article, titled “COVID and the Choral Educator: Preparedness, Perceptions, Attitudes, and a Way Forward,” is a study that details the impact of COVID-19 on choral music educators.

Jerry Blackstone DMA ’86, Choral Music
1/13/21 – Choral alum Dr. Jerry Blackstone is the Artistic Director of a new film about choral singing in the U.S, titled Choral Singing in America: Nurturing the Human Soul – and is a reaction to the pandemic.

Alexander Blake DMA ’19, Choral Music
2/16/21 – Choral & Sacred Music alum Alexander Lloyd Blake was recently featured in an article in The New York Times discussing Tonality, the Los Angeles-based choral ensemble he founded.

Coreen Duffy DMA ’14, Choral Music
2/2/21 – Choral alum Correen Duffy was featured in the February issue of the Choral Journals as an interviewee for a featured article, entitled “Perspectives on Programming Pedagogy.”

Dylan Hart ’06, French Horn
2/17/21 – Hollywood studio musician and french horn alumnus Dylan Skye Hart recently recorded J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B-flat major in a dynamic collaboration with guitarist Andrew Synowiec at Sony Studios.

Marilyn Horne, Vocal Arts
1/5/21 – Marilyn Horne was recently announced as one of the Recording Academy’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award honorees. Horne is widely celebrated as one of the world’s most renowned opera singers. Her decades-spanning career has earned her four GRAMMY Awards and 15 nominations, as well as a 1992 National Medal of Arts and numerous other honors.

Tomas Janzon MM ’00, Guitar
2/22/21 – Tomas Janzon’s recent album 130th & Lenox was ranked among the “Best Albums of 2020” by Downbeat.

Thomas Kotcheff, MM ’12, DMA ’19, Composition
12/7/20 – Thomas spoke with The New York Times about his newest album release, the first commercial recording of Frederic Rzewski’s Songs of Insurrection, which received glowing remarks from the composer himself. Kotcheff describes his personal highlights from the recording and the significant role improvisation takes in the work.

Megan Kwait ’09, Vocal Arts
3/10/21 – Megan has won second place in the 2020 Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament. The tournament took place over 2 days in June, with Kwait taking home a prize of $50,000.

James Lentini DMA ’90, Composition
2/3/21 – Composer James Lentini’s album “Through Time and Place” was recently named one of the best classical recordings of 2020 by the Chicago Tribune.

Iris Levine DMA ’90, Choral Music
3/25/21 – Thornton alum and current Cal Poly Pomona Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Conductor of Vox Femina, Iris Levine, was recently featured in Cal Poly Pomona’s digital magazine. It goes into detail about her journey into music, accomplishments, and impacts she has made.

Ryan Lindveit ‘16, Composition
1/11/21 – Time to Kill Productions debuted their new series titled Honor Guard on Amazon Prime Video. The new four-part, Sam Elliot-narrated docu-series was scored by composer and Thornton alumnus, Ryan Lindveit. Lindveit was USC’s Salutatorian and a Thornton Outstanding Graduate in 2016. The original score, also released as a soundtrack album, is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms.

David Allen Moore ’94, Double Bass
1/26/21 – In a new blog post, professor of double bass, LA Phil member, and Thornton alum David Allen Moore shares how his early experiences as a Thornton student helped him find both his strengths as a musician, and his passion in music.

David Newman ’76, MM ’82, Violin Performance
3/17/21 – The Hollywood Studio Symphony at The Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studies returned earlier this month. The workshop was co-founded by Thornton’s Angel Velez and David Newman. This 37-member ensemble recorded the scores of 10 film composers as part of the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive’s annual workshop under the guidance of faculty members William Ross, Conrad Pope, and co-founder Angel Velez. Additional faculty for this workshop include Booker White, Emilie Bernstein, and Jorge Mester, along with special guests Leonard Slatkin and Robert Townson.

Chris O’Brien GRCT ’20, Trumpet
1/15/21 – Chris O’Brien (GCRT ’20), a trumpeter and alum of USC Thornton’s Winds & Percussion program, has won a position with the U.S. Navy Band. He is one of many Thornton alumni to join the prestigious band.

Scott Rieker DMA ’19, Choral Music
2/2/21 – Choral & Sacred Music alumni Irene Apanovitch-Leites and Scott Rieker co-authored an article in the February issue of Choral Journal, which focuses on vocal pedagogy. Apanovitch-Leites and Rieker’s article, titled “COVID and the Choral Educator: Preparedness, Perceptions, Attitudes, and a Way Forward,” is a study that details the impact of COVID-19 on choral music educators.

Carlos Rafael Rivera MM ’04, DMA ’10, Composition
12/8/20 – Carlos Rafael Rivera spoke in depth with American Songwriter about his work on the hit Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit. He describes his challenges and successes of screen scoring the chess matches and the dynamic main character, calling it his “greatest education of his life.”

Gail Samuel ’89
2/23/21 – USC Thornton alum and Board of Councilors member Gail Samuel has been appointed as the next Eunice and Julian Cohen President and CEO of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). She will serve as BSO’s first woman president in the organization’s 140-year history.

Elise Solberg ’18, Piano
12/9/20 – Elise recently performed with Grammy nominees Chloe x Halle for NPR’s Tiny Desk concert. The performance was part of the Tiny Desk home concert series, allowing artists to continue to perform during COVID-19. She has performed with Chloe x Halle for the MTV Music Awards, the Late Late Show, Spotify Grammy Party for Best New Artist Nominees, and Pepsi’s Unmute Your Voice.

Dale Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
1/21/21 – Composer Dale Trumbore was featured in The Voice of OC in an article about how the Orange County Women’s Chorus adapted its programming to offer unique online events. Trumbore was commissioned to compose a new piece, “What We Hand Over,” for the chorus’s holiday event, and shares how she created the composition specially to suit members’ different remote recording styles and circumstances.

Heidi Vass MM ’02, Vocal Arts
3/6/21 – Heidi, along with three other artists have created an all-female vocal quartet, Seraphour, whose aim is to bring light to a dark year. With a mission to inspire and uplift, Seraphour directed their talents to the classical sacred cannon that spans centuries.

Austin Wintory ’07, Composition
12/13/20 – Austin wrote a blog for PlayStation in which he shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his score for the game “The Pathless.” The score fuses multiple musical traditions from around the world in what Wintory calls a “global jam band.”

Contemporary Music

Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, Screen Scoring
1/20/21 – Composer Peter Boyer received the honor of composing a new piece for the festivities surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden. Boyer was featured in the Los Angeles Times in a story about the significance of the commission.

Gerald Clayton ’07, Jazz Studies
GRAMMY Award-nominated composer, pianist and USC Thornton alum Gerald Clayton wrote the score for “MLK/FBI,” a newly released award-winning documentary directed by Sam Pollard that uncovers the extent of the FBI’s targeted surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jason Goldman MM ’02, Jazz Studies
12/10/2020 – Jason was recently featured in the cover story of JAZZed Magazine, sharing his music career, teaching at USC, and his own recent releases. He advises his students to “be versatile with what you’re able to do,” while learning the instrument, how to write music, and run music engineering software on the computer.

Jensen McRae ’19, Popular Music
1/4/21 – In KCRW’s roundup of some of the best music of 2020, Jensen McRae’s 2020 release, “Wolves,” was named among the top 15 songs most loved by the station’s DJs. “Wolves” is one of a few songs McRae has released ahead of her first full length album, expected to release later this year.

2/4/21 – Singer-songwriter and pop alum Jensen McRae has been named as one of the 21 artists in YouTube Music’s #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021.

Lee Ritenour, Studio Guitar
12/3/20 – GRAMMY Award-winning Lee Ritenour released his first ever full-length solo guitar album Dreamcatcher. In an interview with GratefulWeb, Ritenour says “It was inspiring and it was meant to happen this year, in these times.”

Henry Solomon ’18, Jazz Studies
1/15/21 – Henry Solomon played on the “Women in Music Pt. III” album by HAIM, which is nominated for the Grammy Album of the Year. He played saxophone on two of the songs on the album and was with the band on CBS this Morning in November. He is also preparing to record with them for the Grammy’s in March.

Jermaine Stegall GCRT ’04, Screen Scoring
12/16/20 – Jermaine was interviewed in a special segment of “The Star Wars Show” about the composer’s work on “Our Star Wars Stories,” a digital series about the devoted fans of Star Wars.

Dale Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
1/21/21 – Composer Dale Trumbore was featured in The Voice of OC in an article about how the Orange County Women’s Chorus adapted its programming to offer unique online events. Trumbore was commissioned to compose a new piece, “What We Hand Over,” for the chorus’s holiday event, and shares how she created the composition specially to suit members’ different remote recording styles and circumstances.

Remi Wolf ’18, Popular Music
12/15/20 – Pop artist Remi Wolf has been named one of Vevo DSCVR’s 2021 Artists to Watch. The list highlights emerging artists poised for breakthroughs in the coming year, and has previously named artists such as Sam Smith and Billie Eilish.

Research and Scholarly Studies

Angel Velez MAT ’14, Music Education
3/17/21 – The Hollywood Studio Symphony at The Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studies returned earlier this month. The workshop was co-founded by Thornton’s Angel Velez and David Newman. This 37-member ensemble recorded the scores of 10 film composers as part of the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive’s annual workshop under the guidance of faculty members William Ross, Conrad Pope, and co-founder Angel Velez. Additional faculty for this workshop include Booker White, Emilie Bernstein, and Jorge Mester, along with special guests Leonard Slatkin and Robert Townson.

Jacob Vogel MM ’11, Music Education
12/16/20 – Jacob Vogel has been named the next director of the USC Trojan Marching Band, one of the most recognized and honored bands in collegiate sports.