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

Classical Performance & Composition

Michael Abels, ’84, Composition
Abels was recently profiled on NPR for his incredible score of Jordan Peele’s newest horror movie Us. His compositions were praised for being a balance of terror and empathy, which director Peele attributes to Abel’s empathetic and loving heart. The duo first collaborated together on the Oscar-winning 2017 film Get Out.

The Argus Quartet (Clara Kim, DMA ’15, Jason Issokson, MM ’10, Violin)
The quartet recently performed in Chico California at the Zingg Recital Hall on the Chico State University Campus. The group, including Thornton alumni Kim and Issokson, performed a dynamic repertoire of music from both modern composers and classical pieces.

Timur Bekbosunov GCRT ’06
Bekbosunov has a multitude of incredible projects coming up this year! He began 2019 with a sold out recital in DC at the Embassy of France, with songs by legendary Soviet entertainers of opera and cabaret stage and a performance of a chamber cantata One Body. Since becoming the VP of Creative Affairs for ACE Picture Entertainment, he has also spearheaded creative affairs in film and production. Upcoming musical shows include a production of The Importance of Being Earnest by Gerald Barry in Switzerland and France and Acquanetta by Michael Gordon at Bard SummerScape Festival.

Alex Biniaz-Harris ’15
Biniaz-Harris and Ambrose Soehn, who graduated in 2015 with a neuroscience degree at the USC Dornsife while minoring at USC Thornton, ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to perform in two Cambodian cities – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap – early next year. The duo composed a series of piano pieces based on traditional and popular melodies from Cambodia featuring electric guitar, voice, and other native instruments to tell the story of Cambodia’s music and culture from before, during, and after the Khmer Rouge. The composition, titled Garuda’s Song,aims to share the vibrant Cambodian musical culture with the world.

Anna Bosler MM ’05, DMA ’08, French Horn
She recently published a guidebook entitled College Prep for Musicians: A comprehensive Guide for Students, Parents, Teachers, and Counselors. The guide is aimed at helping young musicians decode the complex application process for music schools and conservatories and was written with the associate dean for enrollment management at Julliard, Kathleen Tesar.

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.

Dan Caputo ’13, Composition
USC Thornton Composition students and alumni comprised five of the 21 recipients of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation 2019 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. The annual award encourages talented young creators of concert music ranging in age from 10 to 30. The winners included undergraduate Adam Karelin, graduate students Nina Shekhar and Tommy Dougherty, and alum Jules Pegram. Dan Caputo received an Honorable Mention.

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.

Erin Colwitz, MM ’04, DMA ’07, Choral Music
Colwitz has been elected president of the Michigan ACDA. In the past, Colwitz has occupied other revered positions such as the Director of Choral Activities at Northern Michigan University, the American Choral Directors Association as the AL-ACDA Repertoire & Standards Chair for Community Choirs and Youth and Student Activities, and Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, just to name a few, where she has enriched the success of each choral group she has worked with.

Etienne Gara, GCRT ’13
Gara recently spoke about the creation of Delirium Musicum, a 25-musician ensemble made up of several USC Thornton alumni and students, including himself. The ensemble prides itself on the individuality and spontaneity it breeds by breaking the traditional routine of a classical concert. The groups upcoming events include a collaboration with French Chef Laurent Quenioux for a gastronomy and music pairing, several concerts in June including one at the USC Brain & Creativity Institute, and a concert at the Boston Court in Pasadena today.

Nick Gerpe, DMA ‘12, Piano Performance
He recently performed with USC Thornton faculty member in bassoon and 2016 GRAMMY nominee, Judy Farmer, at the 2019 Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition and Bassoon Symposium held at the Colburn School. The program also consisted of works by Thornton alumnus Gernot Wolfgang (GCRT ’94).

Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, Composition
Gibson has finished her newest composition, entitled warp & weft, during her year as Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)’s 2018-19 Sound Investment Composer. The composition was written with the input of other LACO musicians and donors during a series of salons and workshops. The composition will be premiered this upcoming weekend at the Alex Theatre and at Royce Hall. Also, Gibson has just been announced as the winner of the 2019 Left Coast Competition Contest for her composition I prefer living in color. As a part of her prize, her composition will be performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble during their 2019-2020 season.

Jose Gonzalez Granero, GRCT ’09
Granero recently premiered his composition Gion Overture, inspired by the historical neighborhood of Gion in Kyoto, Japan, with the Emporia Symphony Orchestra. Granero is currently the Principal Clarinetist for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

Matthew Greif, MM ’92, Guitar
The GRAMMY Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, which features USC Thornton faculty members Scott Tenant and Bill Kanengiser, USC Thornton alumnus Matthew Greif and John Dearman, was recently showcased by the Jackson Hole News and Guide. The article discusses how the celebrated group that has a 15-title discography has managed to stay together for over 40 years.

Mak Grgić MM ’12, DMA ’16, Classical Guitar
Grgić released the video to his song “Macedonian Girl.” Grgić describes the song, which is from his new album, Balkanisms, as “one of the most emotional songs” he has ever recorded. Grgić also recently did a Reddit Ask Me Anything where he discussed what it felt like performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the differences between touring in the United States and Europe, and much more.

Saad Haddad, ’14, Composition
Haddad was announced by Young Concert Artists as the 2019-2021 Young Concert Artist-Composer-in-Residence last month. The honor comes with management services, publicity and two Young Concert Artist commissions that will premier at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Andrew Harley, DMA ’97, Piano Performance
Harley was recently appointed the Director of Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music at Eastman School of Music. Harley has occuppied a number of prestigious teaching positions at institutions such as Julliard, UNC Greensboro, and UC Santa Barbara.

Andrew Harrison DMA ’15, Saxophone
Harrison performed at the premier of Jim Stephenson’s Mobius Trip: Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble at La Sierra University on top of presenting Fantasia sur un theme original by Jules Demmersseman with the Cerritos College Wind Ensemble.

Sara Hiner, BM ’04, MM ’06, Bassoon
She was appointed director of the Germantown Branch of the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. Settlement is one of the oldest and largest community schools of the arts in the nation and provides financial aid to more than 60% of their students in music, dance and the creative arts.

Jason Issokan, MM ’10, Violin
The Argus Quartet, made up of USC Thornton alumni Clara Kim (DM ’15) and Jason Issokan along with Dana Kelley and Jo Whang, was invited by the Chamber Music Society of Detroit to perform two performances with the Juilliard String Quartet in the Detroit metro area.

Annie Jacobs-Perkins, ’18, Violincello
She is currently touring Holland and Bratislava with the Callisto Trio, which also features violinist Geneva Lewis and USC Thornton undergraduate Katelyn Vahala. Formed in 2011, the Callisto Trio is the youngest ensemble ever to win a medal in the Senior Division of the prestigious Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Tianyun Jia, GCRT ’18, Violin
Both Jia and Michelle Tseng (BM ’13, GCRT ’17) were recently selected from 400 candidates to fill only 3 violin vacancies for the LA Philharmonic. This is the first orchestral job for both women.

Nick Kennerly ’17, Violin and Pop Music
Kennerly was recently featured in College Magazine’s recent article, “Meet 10 Outstanding College Music Students.” He touched on the critical opportunities and mentoring he received at USC. Kennerly’s resume includes performances with Sir Elton John, Rostam (formerly of Vampire Weekend), and Blackbear, who he joined for concerts at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Clara Kim, DM ’15, Violin
The Argus Quartet, made up of USC Thornton alumni Clara Kim and Jason Issokan (MM ’10) along with Dana Kelley and Jo Whang, was recently invited by the Chamber Music Society of Detroit to perform two performances with the Juilliard String Quartet in the Detroit metro area.

Victor Labenske, DMA ’93, Piano Performance
Labenske was comissioned by the Music Teachers National Association to write a chamber work for intermediate level players. The work, “A Walk Through the Valley,” was premiered at the MTNA National Conference on March 10, 2019.

Morten Lauridsen, ’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
Dr. Lauridsen recently presented his celebrated music with Thornton faculty and alumni alike, including Rod Gilfry, Carin Gilfry, Dana Gioia, and more. The event, Red Hen Press: An Afternoon of Poetry & Performance, took place at The Broad Stage on December 16. The spiritual depth of Morten Lauridsen’s music, paired with the stunning voices of Rod Gilfry and Carin Gilfry, in conversation with the lyric poetry of Blas Falconer and the works of California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia will make for a thrilling venture into the radiant beauty of soul language.

In addition, Lauridsen’s composition, Lux Aeterna was showcased at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, April 14 as a celebration of Lauridsen’s more than half a century with USC. The concert showcased USC Thornton talent with three student ensembles, four faculty ensemble leaders, and two USC faculty composers.

And finally, Lauridsen 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.

Lesley Leighton MM ’91, Vocal Arts, DMA ’12, Choral Music
Leighton has been appointed the tenure-track position of Director of Choral Activities at the California State University San Bernardino’s Music Department. Leighton, who has premiered over 50 works since 2009, served as UCLA’s director of choruses from 2014-2016 and has regularly conducted the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers for the past six years.

Christina Linhardt ’97, Vocal Arts
Christina Linhardt’s documentary, Guantanamo Circus, was recently released on Amazon Prime. The documentary chronicles an ad hoc circus troupe performing at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, one of the world’s most notorious and controversial prisons, in 2006. Linhardt co-directed and scored the film, which won the Hollywood F.A.M.E. Award. The score consisted of music from Linhardt’s two albums, Circus Sanctuary and Voodoo Princess, that feature USC Thornton musicians.

Lansing McLoskey MM ’92, Composition
McLoskey won the GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance for his album, “Zealot Canticles: An oratorio for tolerance.” The 80-minute oratorio, with words by Nobel Prize-winning author and humanitarian Wole Soyinka, features conductor Donald Nally and was released on Innova Records. McLoskey is currently a professor of music composition at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. He’s the recipient of nearly three-dozen national & international composition awards, including two awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the 2018 Copland House Award & commission, the 2016 American Prize, and a 2019 Bogliasco Foundation fellowship.

Angela Meade, MM ’04, Vocal Arts
Meade established the Angela Meade Vocal Competition at Pacific Lutheran University. The competition has since selected three winners from six finalists who will receive up to $1,000 and a trip to the east coast to watch Meade perform and to take a vocal lesson with the amazing opera singer.

Donald Miller DMA ’80, Choral Music
Miller’s compositon “Here Rests in Honored Glory,” was signed into law this past December by Governor Andrew Cuomo as the Official New York State Hymn of Remembrance in honor of all American Veterans. The title of the song is inspired by an inscription on the tomb of an unknown soldier. Miller saw the piece as a way to give back to those who served since he was not drafted into the Vietnam War. He earned the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Force for the composition. The song has been played on the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and will be played at ceremonies remberbeing the 100 year anniversary of the armstice that ended WWI.

Andrew Norman ’02, MM ’04, Piano Performance and Composition
Composition faculty member Andrews Norman was one of three finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his orchestral work Sustain. Sustain is a large-scale work for orchestra that was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to launch its 100th anniversary season. The LA Phil premiered the piece on October 4, 2018, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting.

Dee Dee Panero Paakkari ’80
Paakkari, the director of the John Marshall High School music program in Los Angeles, was awarded a Grammy Signature Schools Grant for 2018-2020. The Music Education alum accepted the award after conducting her mandorchestra at a gala ceremony at the GRAMMY Museum in October.

Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
He received the ninth bi-annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Frederick Fennell Prize award for his piece Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Wind Ensemble. The piece was written for saxophonist and Thornton alumnus Andrew Harrison (DMA ’15) and commissioned jointly by Mt. San Antonio College and the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble. It will premier with conductor Gregory Xavier Whitmore at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on March 10, 2019. He is also one of 21 recipients of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation 2019 Morton Gould Young Composer Award.

Michael Powers, MM ’05, Conducting
Powers was recently appointed the Orchestra Director of the Westridge School in Pasadena, California. He will be taking his orchestra students to Italy in March 2019 in an Italian/American Cultural Exchange to learn more about cultural exchange and educational experience through music, art and architecture. Additionally, Powers led the Orange County Youth Symphony in a Philharmonic Society of Orange County subscription concert for families called “Professor Planethead’s Symphonic Space Adventure” this past weekend.

Vicki Ray DMA ’88, Piano
Ray received a rave review from SF Classical Voice for her January 16 performance at CalArts REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles. Ray performed a solo concert featuring two works with the accompaniment of visual projections by artist Carole Kim. The review described Ray as “stealing the show.”

Greg Reitan ’96, Composition
Reitan released a new jazz album, West 60th, on Sunnyside Records on April, 19th–his 5th for the NYC label. His trio features two additional Thornton Alumni, Jack Daro, acoustic bass (MM ’99) and Dean Koba, drums (MM ’93). Greg is also performing a west coast CD release concert with his trio at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday, May 10th at 6pm.

David Riccobono MM ’19, Percussion
USC Thornton alumni performed spectacularly well at the Long Beach Symphony audition. David Riccobono recently won the Principal Percussion position while Jeff Grant placed second. Riccobono, who received his Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 2017, studied with Los Angeles Philharmonic percussionists and USC Thornton faculty members Joseph Pereira and James Babor as well as Thornton Jazz professor Peter Erksine during his time on the Trojan campus.

Sara Rommel, GCRT ’14, MM ’16
Rommel was recently given a glowing review by the Hans India Newspaper for her performance with the ‘State of the Art’ Resonance Festival presented by British Airways at the Trident in India.

Shani Rose ’10, MM ’11
Rose was featured in the finals of the 2019 Romanian National Eurovision selection for her song “Right Now,” performed by Olivier Kaye. The song is now on national radio in Germany, Belgium, and Romania.

Jason Saunders MM ’14, Choral Music
The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts announces the finalist choruses for 2018-19 in all divisions. Saunders’, director of the Graham-Kapowsin HS Concert Chorale, is a national finalist for The American Prize in Choral Performance—youth and school division, 2018-19.

Geetha Somayajula ’18, Choral Music
Somayajula has been a participant in the Fulbright program to research in Visakhapatnam in India, at Vidyadhari School of Music. She had her first concert for Janmashtami, a holiday commemorating Lord Krishna’s birthday, in September. So far she’s sang at multiple concerts and assisted music study abroad students with integrating into Indian culture.

Dr. Ethan Sperry MM ’98 DMA ’00, Choral Music
Sperry and his Chamber Choir at Portland State University have been invited to the 2020 World Choral Symposium in Auckland, New Zealand.

Gavin Thrasher MM ’15, Choral Music
New York City Gay Men’s Chorus announced that Gavin Thrasher will be their new Artistic Director starting in September 2019 bringing with him a wealth of expertise having served as the Interim Artistic Director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, leading their youth programming, and founding their a capella group, Aftershock. Thrasher succeeds Dr. Charles Beale who will step down later this summer after twelve successful seasons to pursue other artistic endeavors. Thrasher was selected after an international executive search process guided by Arts Consulting Group.

Michael Tilson Thomas ’67 MM ’76
Thomas, Thornton alumnus and a Judge Widney Professor of Music at USC, received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Orchestral Performance for his celebrated work as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and their album, Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4.

Dale Trumbore MM ’11, Composition
Trumbore recently published a new book entitled Staying Composed: Overcoming Anxiety and Self-Doubt Within a Creative Life. With lessons drawn from her professional composing career, Trumbore offers tips for creatives in any field and breaks down obstacles to a creative career. The book also presents strategies to create a meaningful life in the arts. Staying Composed is available in paperback and digital, and, as of this writing, is the number one newly released book in Amazon’s music category.

Michelle Tseng BM ’13, GCRT ’1, Violin
Both Tseng and Tianyun Jia (GCRT ’18) were recently selected from 400 candidates to fill only 3 violin vacancies for the LA Philharmonic. This is the first orchestral job for both women.

Caroline Wilkins ’16, MM ’19, Harp
Wilkins won the grand prize in the Young Professional division at the 2019 American Harp Society National Competition. As part of the award, Wilkins will serve as the AHS Concert Artist for the next two years, performing and presenting masterclasses at AHS chapters around the country. “These next two years are going to be a lot of fun,” she said to the Harp Column. “I absolutely love teaching, so I’d have to say that I’m most excited about the prospect of giving masterclasses and meeting so many different students around the country. I can’t wait to meet everyone and share my love of the harp with them.”

Austin Wintory ’07, Composition
Wintory was ranked in the top five of Film Music Media’s list of the best video game scores of 2018. He came in fourth for The Banner Saga 3.

Gernot Wolfgang, ’94
Wolfgang recently announced his new chamber music album Vienna and the West on Albany Records. The album was recorded in May 2018 and features Thornton faculty members Judith Farmer, Ben Hong and Andrew Shulman, as well as numerous Thornton alumni.

Guang Yang, MM ’18, Composition
Yang recently showcased a composition created in collaboration with Paula Cizmar, a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. The performance was a part of the USC Thornton Opera Program’s Opera Scenes concert.

Sunny Yang MM ’10, GCRT ’12, Cello
Yang received a GRAMMY nomination as part of her pioneering work as current cellist for the Kronos Quartet. The ensemble was nominated for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for their album Anderson, Laurie: Landfall.

Jeanette Louise Yaryan DMA ’09, Piano Performance
Yaryan will be the next Music Department Chair of Idyllwild Arts Academy. Her appointment will begin in August 2019. In addition to USC, she holds two MM degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music (MM Solo Piano ’03, MM Collaborative Piano ’04). Jeanette has taught numerous courses at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program since 2011, including private piano lessons, chamber music, advanced music theory, collaborative piano, and vocal coaching.

Contemporary Music

Michael Arrom, BM ’17, Popular Music
Arrom has returned to USC as a new member of the Popular Music faculty team. The keyboardist has worked with an impressive list of artists such as guitarist Steve Vai, country icon, Keith Urban, and has appeared on the television series, Glee.

Cooper Bell, ’18, Pop Music
Bell was recently featured in College Magazine’s recent article, “Meet 10 Outstanding College Music Students.” He touched on the critical opportunities and mentoring he received at USC. Bell, who graduated last fall has already opened up for CityCoast and rapper Alvaro Diaz in Silverlake.

Jongnic Bontemps GCRT ’12, Screen Scoring
Bontemps conducted excerpts of his score for the new HBO documentary, United Skates in a concert sponsored by the Television Academy to celebrate the launch of its new category for Best Documentary Score. The amazing documentary, produced by John Legend, was premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is centered around the underground subculture of African-American roller rinks and the struggle to keep them alive.

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.

Rozzi Crane ’13, Pop Music
Crane’s new single “Bad Together” from her debut album of the same name was recently featured on MTV, who praised the singer for her “soaring yet raw vocals on the track.” Rozzi explains that the song was written after an emotional breakup; thus, she wanted her music video to be just as personal and heartbreaking.

Jack Daro MM ’99, Jazz Studies
Thornton Alumni Greg Reitan ’96, Jack Daro MM ’99 and Dean Koba MM ’93 just released a new album, West 60th, on Sunnyside Records. The trio is performing a west coast CD release concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday, May 10th at 6pm.

John Daversa DMA ’09, Jazz Studies
Daversa won 3 GRAMMY awards this year for his album “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom,” which features faculty member Paul Young on trombone, in the categories of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Improvised Jazz Solo, and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Capella. Daversa won for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for the track “Don’t Fence Me In” as well as Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Additionally, the ensemble won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

David Deedwania ’15, Screen Scoring
Deedwania recently collaborated with students from the USC School of Cimenatic Arts to create a short animated film entitled, Trailblazer. Deedwania scored the piece and worked with student filmmakers who developed Ollie, a 3D animation and VR tool. The film will premier at USC’s Norris Cinema Theatre on May 11.

Kait Dunton, DMA ’13, Jazz Studies
Dunton will be releasing her sixth album this weekend, a collaboration with several musicians including two former teachers, trumpeter John D’earth, and saxophonist Bob Mintzer, the chair of the Jazz Studies program at USC Thornton. She is also the Chair of the Piano department at the Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena and leads trioKAIT, a genre-defying jazz trio.

Luudwig Göransson GCRT ’08, Screen Scoring
He took home 3 awards this year at the GRAMMY Awards including two for his collaboration with Childish Gambino. The duo won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for This is America as well as being nominated for best R&B Song for the trach Feels Like Summer. Göransson also won the GRAMMY for Best Score Sountrack for Visual Media for the movie, Black Panther. Gorransson is the first to win song of the year and best score soundtrack for projects in entirely different music genres. Göransson also rounded out award season by winning his first Oscar for Best Original Score for Black Panther. Göransson first met Black Panther director, Ryan Cooogler MFA ’11, at USC Thornton in the Screen Scoring program, where they solidified a strong friendship. Now, 12 years later, the duo has succeeded in scoring and directing one of the most successful and lauded superhero movies of all time. And in a Rotten Tomatoes’ article ranking the 21 best TV theme songs of the past 21 years, Göransson’s theme for the comedy Community was listed as sixteenth. Göransson added to his long list of 2019 awards at the 35th annual BMI Film, TV, and Visual Media Awards and won an award for Venom and Creed II.

Samuel Jones ’09, GCRT ’10, Studio Guitar and Screen Scoring
At the 35th annual BMI Film, TV & Visual Media Awards, USC Thornton alumni and faculty were recognized as top performing composers. In the BMI Cable Television award category, Music Technology faculty member Michael “Smidi” Smith was awarded for his work with Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol, and alumni Alexis Marsh (GC ’10) and Samuel Jones (GC ’10) won awards for the score for the TNT show Animal Kingdom.

Dean Koba MM ’93, Jazz Studies
Thornton Alumni Greg Reitan ’96, Jack Daro MM ’99 and Dean Koba MM ’93 just released a new album, West 60th, on Sunnyside Records. The trio is performing a west coast CD release concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday, May 10th at 6pm.

Alexis Marsh GCRT ’10, Screen Scoring
At the 35th annual BMI Film, TV & Visual Media Awards, USC Thornton alumni and faculty were recognized as top performing composers. In the BMI Cable Television award category, Music Technology faculty member Michael “Smidi” Smith was awarded for his work with Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol, and alumni Alexis Marsh (GC ’10) and Samuel Jones (GC ’10) won awards for the score for the TNT show Animal Kingdom.

Bear McCreary ’02, Composition
McCreary recently won the 2019 British Academy Games Awards in the Music category for his score for God of War. This award is one of many accolades McCreary has earned for this project. He previously was nominated for a Game Audio Network Guild award and won the second spot in Film Music Media’s best video game scores of 2018. And in a Rotten Tomatoes’ article ranking the 21 best TV theme songs of the past 21 years, McCreary ranked fourth for his iconic theme to The Walking Dead.

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.

MUNA (Katie Gavin ’15, Josette Maskin ’16, and Naomi McPherson ’15, Pop Music)
The trio was recently featured on B-sides and Badlands’ Hook & Reel, a series of showcasing music. MUNA’s debut album, About U continues to be praised as a “queer-pop masterpiece.”

Cole Pham ’18, Music Industry
Pham released his second studio album, LA 2 LA, at the end of 2018. The album chronicles Pham’s journey from his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana to Los Angeles, where he felt USC helped him to musically “take the training wheels off”. Pham is now currently a Financial Management Intern for Parr3 LLC.

Jej Vinson, Popular Music
Vinson won a spot on NBC’s The Voice with a performance of Drake’s “Passionfruit” that stunned the judges, earning him 4 chair turns. The video of his performance has since gone viral, earning over one million views on Youtube in less than 24 hours.

Matthew Jay Warren ’00, Music Industry
Warren was selected for key positions in entertainment law. Jones joined the Music Row Law Office of Russell A. Jones Jr. as an associate attorney, and Warren was appointed head of Clinton & Clinton’s new sports entertainment department.

Scholarly & Professional Studies