The USC Thornton School of Music is proud to share the accomplishments of our outstanding alumni. These achievements represent only a small sampling of the great work our alumni are doing around the world.
The list below includes accomplishments submitted since Spring 2018. To submit your own accomplishments, please complete our handy web submission form.
Classical Performance & Composition
Sydney Adedamola ’18, Violin
Adedamola is a top-tier member of the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship’s first class. Launched in August of 2018, the program was designed to increase diversity in American orchestras. Through this prestigious program, Adedamola will have the opportunity to learn from LOCA and USC Thornton musicians and to mentor young ICYOLA musicians.
Julia Adolphe MM ’12, DMA candidate, Composition
Julia was featured on New York’s WQXR as one of 11 female composers in honor of International Women’s Day. Adolphe spoke about her own influences: composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Paola Prestini, as well as her mother, architect Adrian Grad.
Richard Bernstein ’89
He has just reached a career milestone with his 400th performance with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Thornton Vocal Arts and Opera alum started with the company in 1995 and since has performed in more than 30 roles.
Shana Blake Hill MM ’12, Vocal Arts
She is one of the featured guest soloists in the Verdi Chorus’ 35th anniversary Spring 2018 concert The Force of Destiny. Shana Hill has appeared in many other opera companies and is well known for her vocal abilities in both operatic and orchestral repertoires. The founding Artistic Director, Anne Marie Ketchum, has nicknames Hill “Cords of Steel” for her outstanding vocal ability.
Jacob Broussard ’18, Choral Music
He received the Wilma Mankiller Fellowship for Tribal Policy and Governance, administered by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Broussard, who previously received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship to undertake ethnomusicological research, will be working in Washington D.C. at the Embassy of Tribal Nations, where he will assist national leaders on aspects of tribal policy for one year.
Eric Byers ’03
He was one of the three cellists invited to perform last minute at the US premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Cello Concerto. When the original soloist was unable to perform, Byers, along with two other cellists, divided and conquered the solo in three days. Despite the setback, the performance was a success.
Jessica Rose Cambio MM ’06, MM ’08; Alexandra Loutsion MM ’08, GRCT ’10, Vocal Arts
They starred together in the Tulsa Opera production of Puccini’s Turandot. The production was a part of their 70th Anniversary season. Loutsion and Cambio portrayed Turandot and Liù, respectively, under the baton of conductor James Lowe.
Timothy Campbell MM ’09, GCRT ’11, Vocal Arts,
He recently made his LA Opera mainstage debut in Candide with Kelsey Grammer. Campbell was also nominated for a 2017 Voice Arts award and a 2018 Audie award for Claim and Protect. Finally, Campbell was featured in Amazon Classic’s brand new production of Moby Dick as the narrator.
Lucinda Carver ’89, Piano Performance
Carver received the Ramo Music Faculty Award. Established in 1971, this award is conferred by the faculty and students upon a faculty member at USC Thornton School of Music in recognition of outstanding contribution to music and education.
David Castillo MM ’13
He has been very active with the Los Angeles Philharmonic recently. He performed as a soloist with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel in Bernstein’s Mass from February 1-4. He also performed in the world premiere of Annie Gosfield and Yuval Sharon’s War of the Worlds with the LA Phil in November 2017. In May 2017, he also made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.
Castillo made his Lincoln Center debut as a soloist in Bernstein’s Mass with the Mostly Mozart Festival and Maestro Louis Langrée. This is Elkhannah Pulitzer’s same production that Castillo previously performed in with the LA Philharmonic and Maestro Gustavo Dudamel in February 2018.
Rainer Crosett GCRT ’17
Crosett has won the 2018 Pierre Fournier Award, one of the top honors in the field. Crosett received a £5000 cash award, a recital engagement at London’s Wigmore Hall, a concerto performance with the London Philharmonia Orchestra, and an album recording.
Edward Cibener ’83, Piano Performance
He recently performed as the guest artist with the San Francisco City Chorus in Gaylon Babcock’s arrangement for Piano, Organ, and Chorus of Mendelssohn’s Walpurgisnacht. The performance was conducted by Larry Marietta and took place at the historic Cavalry Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.
Jack Cimo ’11, Guitar
Cimo and classical guitar doctoral candidate Bo Byun are semi-finalists for the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, which will take place in Buffalo, New York, on June 6, 7, and 9. The semi-finals will be streamed live online at wned.org.
Ronald Davis DMA ’84; Zach Collins MM ’05, DMA ’07; Steve Williams MM ’85
Davis and Collins will perform on the first night of USC Thornton faculty member Jim Self’s recital, which includes a composition by alumnus Steve Williams.
Nové received the 2nd Prize Award at the 14th Danube Conducting Masterclass and Competition with the Danube Symphony Orchestra.
Albert R. Diaz BA ’10, MM ’12
He has just been given the position of Associate Chair of the Music Department at Walla Walla University in Washington State. Currently a doctoral candidate in musicology at U.C. Los Angeles, Diaz’s research interests include the musical and cultural identities of the Pacific Coast.
Kira Dills-Desurra BM ’10; Gibran Mahmud MM ’17; Alexandra Martinez Turano MM ’16, Vocal Arts
The Long Beach Opera premiered its performance of Frank Martin’s The Love Potion. The cast included three USC alums: Gibran Mahmud MM ’17, Kira Dills-Desurra BM ’10 and Alexandra Martinez Turano MM ’16. The Long Beach Opera is internationally recognized for their fresh interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO is also the oldest opera company in the LA/OC area with 110 past operas performed.
Sue Elliott ’98, Clarinet
Elliot was appointed to a new position with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as Director of their new Tanglewood Learning Institute. Following completion of her MM, she worked in different capacities for Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Francisco Fullana GCRT ’15, Violin
He has released a debut album, “Through the Lens of Time,” recorded with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carlos Izcaray. The album is centered on Max Richter’s contemporary reworking of Vivaldi’s iconic Four Seasons and also includes works by Schnittke, Salvador Brotons, and Isang Yun.
Graycen Gardner MM ’17, Vocal Arts
Gardner starred as Galatea in a production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea. A member of the Central City’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, she was warmly reviewed for her “beautifully lyric heartfelt soprano.” The production was directed by USC Thornton faculty member, Ken Cazan.
Ross Garren, BM ’08, Composition
He is a harmonicist and Thornton alumnus that is currently co-headlining Ben Fold’s summer tour. In addition to Folds, Garren has also worked with artists such as Ke$ha, Lupe Fiastco, Empire of the Sun, and Keb Mo, to name a few.
Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15, Composition
She has been selected as Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Sound Investment composer for the 2018-19 season. Gibson will premiere a new work with the ensemble on January 26th and 27th, 2019, following several invitation-only salon performances for LACO patrons.
Andrew Goldman ’08, Piano Performance
Goldman recently published a research paper, Improvisation experience predicts how musicians categorize musical structures, in the Psychology of Music journal. Goldman, who earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge, is currently a Presidential Scholar in the Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University specializing in music cognition.
Reyna Gordon ’01, Vocal Arts
Reyna is not the Director of the Music Cognition Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she studies the connections between rhythm and grammar, and how rhythm and music training might help children with atypical language development. She was also featured on NPR for her word.
Mak Grgić MM ’12, DMA ’16, Classical Guitar
Mak, an Artist Diploma candidate in the USC Thornton Classical Guitar program, has released an album, MAKrotonal, which uses especially re-fretted instruments to reexamine standard repertoire and to present newly commissioned works.
Grgić’s latest album, MAKrotonal, reinvigorates traditional guitar repertoire with re-fretted instrumentation and Renaissance and Baroque tunings. Grgić spent the summer performing and presenting masterclasses in Idaho, Slovenia, Germany, China, and Taiwan.
Grgić is currently opening for pop singer k.d. lang during his Ingenue Redux Tour. Grgić has collaborated with many different musical sounds such as violin and flamenco guitar. He is slated to perform around the world in countries such as Bulgaria, Slovenia, Austria and London.
Caroline Hales ’16, Harp Performance
Hales, a master’s candidate in the USC Thornton Strings program, recently won the Music Academy of the West’s 2018 Concerto Competition. Hales, who studies with JoAnn Turovsky, serves as principal harpist with the American Youth Symphony, the Debut Chamber Orchestra, and the USC Thornton Symphony. Winners of the Concerto Competition will perform as soloists with the Academy Festival Orchestra during the Music Academy’s summer 2019 season.
Matthew Harriman MM ’08, Trumpet and Erika Loke ’12, Horn
Harriman and Loke performed for the memorial, funeral procession, and burial services of Senator John McCain, held in Annapolis, Maryland as members of the United States Naval Academy Band. The USNAB is one of two Washington DC premier bands in the United States Navy and regularly performs for past and current Presidents of the United States, foreign dignitaries, and other high ranking state officials.
Kevin Hartnett BM ’13
Kevin had his recent choral work De profundis performed by The Zurich Chamber Singers in Zurich, Switzerland. The piece, which was commissioned by the ensemble and premiered in 2016, was also recorded as part of their debut album and will be released by ARS Produktion in 2018.
Cheri Jamison ’06, Vocal Arts
Jamison will perform at the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto in November 2018, performing a one-hour opera recital, Anne Frank and Mirabai: Women’s Spiritual Legacy in Opera.
He was also honored on May 23 by American Scandinavian Society with the 2018 Lifetime Honorary Award.
Somang Jeagal AD ’15, GCRT ’17, MM ’18
The Music in the Mansion concert series, which presents chamber music at the historical Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, recently published a video showcasing a February performance by pianist and 2018 Outstanding Graduate Jeagal.
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, which was founded by clarinetist and USC Thornton alumnus Benjamin Mitchell GCRT ’17, arts leadership, presented the world premiere of a commission by Composition chair Donald Crockett on May 12th and 13th, 2018. The new concerto for grand piano, two toy pianos, and chamber orchestra, And the River, will be performed in collaboration with the HOCKET ensemble, which includes DMA candidate Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, composition, and Composition faculty member Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15.
Morten Lauridsen, ’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74, Composition
He celebrated his 75th birthday with a special concert at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Glendale on Sunday, March 4th. The celebration featured the Donald Brinegar Singers in a performance of Lauriden’s beloved Lux Aeterna, O Magnum Mysterium, and The Nocturnes, with the composer accompanying from the piano.
He received an honorary doctorate from Pennsylvania’s Muhlenberg College. He has previously earned honorary degrees from Whitman College, Oklahoma State University, Westminster Choir College, and King’s College at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. At the May 18th ceremony in Allentown, Lauridsen spoke about his music and the Muhlenberg Choir performed several of his best-known works.
Dr. Lauridsen has a number of upcoming albums and concerts in celebration of his music. In October, the Chamber Choir of Europe and I Virtuosi Italiani chamber orchestra will release an album of his music, titled Eternal Light. A series of concerts and workshops will also be held in Northern Germany featuring ensembles with Lauridsen on piano. The Philharmonic Orchestra will also be releasing a disc, titled Mirror in Mirror, featuring one of Laruidsen’s compositions. A new recording by the Oregon Repertory Singers will be released in October, featuring a number of Lauridsen’s pieces.
Michael Lee DMA ’17, Composition
Lee’s chamber work for strings and piano, Echoes for Strings and Piano, received its world premiere at the Marigny Opera House by the New Orleans Chamber Orchestra. Lee was the winner of the ensemble’s Spectri Sonori Composition Competition.
Lee’s 2015 work for classical guitar, Unmasked, earned a prize at the 2018 ICC The Contemporary Guitar Composition Competition and will be performed by guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou next year.
Lee previously received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of the Arts and Letters as well as the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award.
Anna Lenhart MM ’17
She recently won the position of principal horn with the Hawaii Symphony. During her studies at USC, Lenhart was a member of the Scholarship Woodwind Quintet and also participated in the Music Academy of the West Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, the Debut Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and Hans Zimmer’s Live Tour.
Christina Linhardt ’97
Christina just became the new staff writer for the California Philharmonic. She created their new “Meet the Musician” series, where she interviews a different member of the orchestra each week, so each virtuoso gets their well-deserved time in the spotlight.
Ryan Lindveit ’16, Composition
He is one of six emerging composers whose works will be performed by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) during the organization’s Underwood New Music Readings on June 21st and 22nd in New York City. Lindveit, who was USC’s Salutatorian and a Thornton Outstanding Graduate in 2016, will present his orchestral work, Like an Altar with 9,000 Robot Attendants, which was premiered by the USC Thornton Symphony in 2015.
Sara Leib ’09, Jazz Studies
Leib announced the release of Voxercise, a groundbreaking voice-training mobile app. The app will allow users to engage in an extensive array of exercises to help improve their singing tone, range, note accuracy, and even pitch accuracy. The app, Voxercise, is available in the App Store and Google Play
Garrett McQueen MM ’12, Bassoon
He recently joined the hosting team of Classical 24, a nationally-syndicated radio program produced by American Public Media and Public Radio International. McQueen, who formerly hosted “The Afternoon Concert” on Knoxville’s WUOT-FM, is also an accomplished musician, performing with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Knoxville Symphony, among others.
Staff Sergeant J.G. Miller DMA ’13, French Horn
He was invited to compose the U.S. Cyber Command March and was premiered by The United States Army Field Band at the National Security Agency on May 4th, 2018 in recognition of the elevation of the U.S. Cyber Command to become the Department of Defense’s newest Unified Combatant Command.
Lawrence Mumford DMA ’89, Composition
He recently had two original compositions place in the national competition known as the American Prize. His choral piece, Quietem is a semi-finalist in the professional choral division, and his orchestra piece Santa Cruz Island is a finalist in the professional orchestra division. Both pieces may be heard at LawrenceMumford.com.
Andrew Norman ’02, MM ’04
Composer and USC Thornton faculty member, Andrew Norman, recently debuted his new children’s opera, A Trip to the Moon. It was warmly reviewed in the Los Angeles Times following its U.S premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 2nd at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Norman will premier his new music world wide at the LA Philharmonic this October.
Patrick O’Malley MM ’15, DMA candidate, Composition
Patrick was recently selected as the Sioux City Symphony’s Composer of the Year for 2018. O’Malley’s string orchestra piece Loneliness in a Beautiful Place was selected as the winner, and he will be in Sioux City Iowa from Feb. 7th to 11th for rehearsals, along with some educational and outreach functions put on by the symphony.
Troy Quinn DMA ’14, Choral Music
He lead two concerts with the Venice Symphony Orchestra of Venice, Florida, on May 4th and 5th, 2018. The concerts, themed “A Tribute to Music in Cinema,” will feature Thornton faculty member and former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Glenn Dicterow, performing notable movie themes by composer and honorable USC alumnus, John Williams. Dicterow will perform the theme from Schindler’s List, as well as music from the film Far and Away.
He was also named the new Music Director for The Venice Symphony of Venice, Florida. His first performance as music director will be a “Fiesta Italia” concert in November. He succeeds Imre Pallo, who served one year as interim music director, after the 2016 departure of Kenneth Bowermeister, who led the orchestra for seven years.
Jules Pegram ’13, Composition
Pegram recently composed, produced, and conducted two performances of HIGHER GROUND, a new sixty-minute opera in one act with a libretto by North Carolina-based writer Jim Whiteside. Scored for seven principal vocalists, SATB chorus, and chamber orchestra, the opera was fully staged on April 4 & 5, 2018 at McIntosh Theatre in Ann Arbor.
He recently composed, produced, and conducted two performances of his HIGHER GROUND, a new sixty-minute opera in one act with a libretto by North Carolina-based writer Jim Whiteside. Scored for seven principal vocalists, SATB chorus, and chamber orchestra, the opera was fully staged on April 4 & 5, 2018 at McIntosh Theatre in Ann Arbor.
Through the intimate lens of a family tested by external crisis, the story tackles issues of honor and loyalty, of love’s ability to transcend space and time, and of the true meaning of home.
Thornton Alumni featured in the premiere performances of Pegram’s opera include: Thomas Militello ’17, horn performance; Mina Hong ’17, violin; Margaret Hasspacher MM ’11, contrabass performance; and mezzo-soprano Antona Yost ’17, vocal arts in the role of “Hattie Fitzgerald,” heard here in a haunting performance of the aria “Back in Missouri.”
He had his composition, L.A. Glows, performed by the Naples Philharmonic on a series of eight concerts conducted by Radu Paponiu at Hayes Hall in September.
Derek Polischuk ’01 MM ’04 DMA ’06, Piano Performance
Polischuk released two CD’s on the Blue Griffin label, It’s About Time, with trombonist Ava Ordman and Anxiety Attack with soprano Melanie Helton which features the Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann and Craigslistlieder by Gabriel Kahane. In addition, Derek’s book Transformational Piano Teaching: Mentoring Students from All Walks of Life will be available on December 3, 2018 from Oxford University Press.
Vicki Ray DMA ’88
Vicki recently had her recording of River of 1,000 Streams (composed by Daniel Lentz) reviewed by “I Care If You Listen.” Reviewer Nick Stevens referred to Ray as a “Los Angeles luminary” and her performance as “colorful, nuanced.”
She performed a notable minimalist work, River of 1,000 Streams by composer Daniel Lentz, for the Soundwaves New Music series at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday, May 16th, 2018. Ray’s recording of the piece, for electronically-processed piano, was warmly received by critics last year.
Greg Reitan ’96, Composition
Reitan won this year’s Aaron Copland House Residency Award. The new Residents were selected out of eighty-two applicants from twenty-six states, the District of Columbia, and two foreign countries by this year’s eminent composer jury. The new works these Residents plan to create or develop while at Copland House run the gamut from solo instrumental and small ensemble to chorus, symphony, and jazz orchestra.
Carlos Rafael Rivera MM ’04, DMA ’10, Composition
Rivera won his first Emmy Award for his original score for the Netflix series, Godless. Rivera’s music was nominated in the categories of Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music and Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score).
Elizabeth Roberts MM ’01, bassoon
She won the contrabassoon position with the Virginia Symphony and joined the orchestra in the 2017-18 season. She also joined the faculty of the New England Music Camp during the summer of 2017, and will return there for the summer of 2018.
Giovanni Santos MM ’07
The United States Naval Academy Band’s Brass Ensemble recently premiered a work by Santos, written for and performed by trumpeter Matt Harriman MM ’08. Voyages was performed on January 28th at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., under the baton of Lieutenant Commander Diane Nichols. Also performing in the ensemble was horn player and alumna Erika Loke ’12.
His latest work, Fanfariaat, will premiere at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa this November.
Rémy Taghavi ’12, Bassoon
Taghavi was just announced as New Haven Symphony’s new principal bassoonist. Along with this high honor, Taghavi has been working with a number of chamber groups such as the Julliard Orchestra and is currently lecturing at both The Julliard School and UMass Amherst.
Tatiana Taylor DMA ’17, Choral Music,
She has accepted a faculty position as Director of Choirs with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, beginning in the fall. She is in good company with alumnus Christopher Haygood DMA ’13, Associate Director of Choral Studies at Oklahoma State University, and doctoral candidate Karsten Longhurst, who is Director of Choral Music and Assistant Director of Music Education at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Robert Thies ’93 MM ’95, Piano Performance
He has been appointed the new Artistic Director of the South Bay Chamber Music Society, an organization founded 55 years ago, which provides free admission concerts to audiences in the Southern Los Angeles area.
Thies has been appointed Artistic Director of the South Bay Chamber Music Society, which presents about fifteen concerts each season in venues across the South Bay. Thies won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in 1995 and maintains a busy career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and recording artist, in addition to serving on the faculty of the Colburn School.
Thies published an article entitled I Am Not An Accompanist for the Fall 2017 edition of California Music Teacher magazine. The article discusses the misunderstood role of a pianist in chamber music, with particular focus on the chamber sonata and art song.
Vince Womack MMED ’97
The article, The Trojans Bringing Arts Education Back to Kids and Schools highlights the success of this Thornton alumnus, whose innovative curriculum as music director of the James A. Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles allows his students to explore a variety of different musical experiences.
Jaco Wong MM ’16, Choral Music and Composition
Wong was commissed by animation artist Evan Tedlock to compose Psithaura for a 16-part mixed chorus. The work was premiered in an interactive installation exhibited at USC Firehouse gallery in April 2018, then to Kansas City. The installation is now being presented in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As conductor and educator, Wong began his choral directorship at Palisades Charter High School.
Jenny Wong MM ’13
Jenny debuted as associate conductor at the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s December 10th performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, was recently reviewed by music writer Douglas for the website Seen and Heard International. Dutton wrote that Wong “brought beauty, balance, subtlety and strength when required,” and noted that Wong’s “finely nuanced direction balanced the complexity of the musical texture with a clear and unfussy account of the score.”
James Zimmerman ’04, Clarinet
Zimmerman, principal clarinetist of the Nashville Symphony, recently published a video detailing production of the ensemble’s 2018 recording of a clarinet concerto by composer and faculty member Frank Ticheli. The previously-unrecorded work was included on the ensemble’s album of wind concertos, recorded under music director Giancarlo Guerrero, and released in February on the Naxos label.
Jongnic Bontemps ’12, Layla Minoui ’08, George Shaw ’04, Jermaine Stegall ’04, Screen Scoring
Bontemps, Minoui, Shaw, and Stegall are finalists selected for the Universal Film Music Composer Initiative, whose goal is to nurture up-and-coming composers. The composers will create original scores for two DreamWorks Animation short films, and will have the opportunity to continue mentorship opportunities with Universal Film Music and/or DreamWorks Animation executives for a period of one year from the Initiative commencement date.
Peter Boyer GCRT ’96, Screen Scoring
Boyer premiered his Grammy-nominated work, Ellis Island: The Dream of America, nationwide on PBS’ Great Performances series with Pacific Symphony on June 29th. The show was carried by nearly all PBS stations across the United States, and many repeat performances are scheduled.
Ilana Broad, Esq. ’11, Music Industry
Broad was recently recognized by Super Lawyers as a 2018 Rising Star for her work representing musicians, screenwriters, comedians, and other entertainment and media professionals through her solo practice, Ilana Broad Esq. PLLC.
Eli Brueggemann, MM ’03, Jazz Studies
As musical director and composer of Saturday Night Live, Brueggemann won hist first Emmy in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song, Come Back Barack.
Karina DePiano ’16, Popular Music
She performed with Singer Troye Sivan on Saturday Night Live. DePiano has performed with several artists such as Rita Ora, Daya, and Miley Cyrus. The SNL performance comes just weeks after her performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.
DePiano has been touring with a multitude of artists such as Troye Sivan, Rita Ora, Daya, Fifth Harmony, and Miley Cyrus. DePiano will be touring with Sivan on his U.S. tour this October and November. She has also performed at events such as Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, and the Billboard Music Awards.
Country duo Dixie Jade, made up of USC Thornton alumni, pianist/vocalist Andrea Crisalli ’11, vocal arts, and guitarist/vocalist Dominique Ruiz ’11, music, are rising in popularity. The Nashville-based duo was recently featured on the public television series, Songs at the Center, where they performed, Grit and Amazing Grace.
Billboard recently profiled the band Fabriq on the release of their third single, “Get Behind the Feeling.” Band members Daniel Davila ’18 and Cooper Bell ’18 are both recent graduates of the USC Thornton Popular Music program and draw inspiration from Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and Jamiroquai.
Grant Fonda GCRT ’13, SMPTV
He has garnered global attention and several nominations for Best Original Score for his score for the multi-award winning documentary Down the Fence (2017). His score for the highly anticipated The Dating Project (2018) releases nationally alongside the film in theaters this April. He continues to receive commissions for new concert music across the US, and has recently served in Music Departments for films such as Finding Dory and Spectre. He has also served as an orchestrator for the late James Horner’s Titanic Live, currently touring internationally.
Ross Golan ’01, Music Industry
And The Writer Is…, a podcast by multi-platinum songwriter Golan, recently released an episode recorded at a Spring 2018 Popular Music Forum, featuring Thornton students and vice dean Chris Sampson. The podcast’s featured guest, GRAMMY-nominated producer Joe London, has released hit singles with Pitbull, Jason Derulo, Fifth Harmony and LunchMoney Lewis.
Molly Miller ’11, DMA ’16, Studio Guitar
She was recently published in Premier Guitar, in the first article of an ongoing series. Her piece, entitled “Dr. Molly’s Guitar Lab: The Badass Riffs of Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” breaks down the compositional patterns behind the “Original Soul Sister’s” distinctive riffs, while providing basic instruction on this style of guitar playing.
She is currently on tour with singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. At 28, Miller is currently the chair of the guitar department at the Los Angeles College of Music and is the youngest in the country to hold such a position. She will also be performing with Sammy Miller and the Congregation and her own trio, the Molly Miller Trio, for the remainder of the year.
Derik Nelson ’10, Music Industry
He has been selected, along with members of his family, by the U.S. Department of State to represent the country as cultural ambassadors for the United States. The musical trio, “Derik Nelson & Family,” is comprised of himself, his sister Riana and brother Dalten. The trio will perform and teach internationally in the coming year, traveling to underserved regions of the world to share their music. They are one of 15 bands bestowed with this opportunity. Derik Nelson & Family also just completed a 30 date national headlining tour.
Steven Robinson ’18, Jazz Studies
Robinson is currently on tour with singer, songwriter and guitarist, John Fogerty. Robinson and current students, Ethan Chilton and Nathan Collins perform five songs on the tour, including Proud Mary, and they also get to march through the audience with a Bayou favorite, When the Saints Go Marching In.
Hiroe Sekine ’09, Jazz Studies
She recently won First Place in the jazz category of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for the song “Nippon Barre” from her 2017 album, One World One Sun. The album, produced by Jazz Studies faculty member Russell Ferrante, blends traditional Japanese instrumentation with jazz styles and features performances by Peter Erskine (drums), Ferrante (melodica) and alumnus Larry Koonse ’84 on tenor ukulele.
Elise Solberg ’18
She recently performed with Chloe x Halle, Beyoncé’s protégés, at the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. The performance was on June 16th, but it aired nationally on June 18th, 2018. The Awards show was hosted by Tiffany Haddish. Other performers included Nick Jonas with DJ Mustard.
Daniel Weidlein ’12, Jazz Studies
He will release his debut album, Fire in the Sky, on June 22nd. A preview single, The Red Line Suite, is now available for purchase. Weidlein will present a special album release concert at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles on June 25th, featuring Divya Maus ’14, popular music, who also performed on the record, as well as Roberto Giaquinto, Raviv Markovitz, Christian Li, Erin Bentlage, Kyle Barnett, and a string quartet.
Scholarly & Professional Studies
Alison Balbag ’06, MM ’07, DMA ’10
She spoke this past weekend at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. Balbag has doctorates in gerontology and harp performance, and she currently does research on the affects music has on health. As a harpist, she has performed on Modern Family and Glee as well as played with artists like Stevie Wonder and Yo-Yo Ma. Balbag has recorded for Google and has coverage across National Geographic and Psychology Today.
Reyna Gordon, PhD, BM ’01, Vocal Arts,
She has been awarded an NIH NIDCD K18 career development grant entitled “Mapping the Genetic and Neural Architecture of Human Rhythm and Communication Traits.” This federal funding will allow Dr. Gordon to conduct more research on the biological basis of music. Dr. Gordon is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Alison Maggart PhD ’17, Musicology
Maggart has been named assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music. Maggart previously taught at California State University, Northridge, the Colburn Conservatory, and the KM Music Conservatory in India.
Maggart’s research is focused on twentieth-century and contemporary American music. While at USC, she was a recipient of a University of Southern California Endowed Arnold Fellowship and won the prestigious Ingolf Dahl Award in Musicology from the Pacific Southwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society.