Jazz Studies News

Peter Erskine releases new trio album

April 25, 2017

Peter Erskine, jazz drummer and director of Drumset Studies at USC Thornton, recently released a new trio album, In Praise of Shadows. The trio features Erskine, bassist Damian Erskine, and pianist Vardan Ovsepian, who wrote several of the tracks. Electronic valve instrumentalist Judd Miller and cellist Artyom Manukyan are guest artists on the album. All […]


Thornton Combo takes top prize at Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival

April 6, 2017

The USC Thornton Jazz Composers Collective recently took first place at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. Under the direction of faculty member Vince Mendoza, the Composers Collective performed all original music and have been invited back for a special engagement at the Monterey Jazz Festival this coming September. Thornton saxophonist and DMA candidate Ramsey […]


Peter Erskine quoted in LA Times article about “La La Land”

March 24, 2017

Peter Erskine, legendary jazz drummer and director of Drumset Studies at USC Thornton, was recently featured in a Los Angeles Times article about his work as a session musician for the award-winning film, La La Land. The film explores a musician’s crisis of conscience about performing music simply to earn a paycheck. “I look at […]


Strong USC Thornton showing in LA Phil’s 2017-18 season

March 17, 2017

The Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) recently announced its 2017-18 concert season, which includes featured performances by numerous USC Thornton faculty and alumni. In December, the Calder Quartet, which includes Thornton alumni Benjamin Jacobson (BM’01, MM’07, violin), Andrew Bulbrook (BM ’02, violin), Jonathan Moerschel (BM ’01, MM ’03, viola) and Eric Byers (BM ’03, cello), […]


Vince Mendoza releases album with WDR Big Band

February 24, 2017

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 […]


Alumnus Ray Zepeda presents a Milton Babbitt tribute concert

February 17, 2017

Saxophonist Ray Zepeda (MM ’98, Jazz Studies), founder and artistic director of the Bakersfield New Music Collective, 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 […]


Alumna, jazz violinist Nora Germain authors new book

February 9, 2017

Jazz violinist and USC Thornton alumna Nora Germain (’14) 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. In a video on her website, Germain said, “I discuss issues […]


Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to premiere work with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

December 19, 2016

This February, jazz trumpeter and USC Thornton alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire (MM ‘07, jazz studies) will premiere an original composition with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s “Liquid Music” series. Akinmusire’s piece was co-commissioned by the Ecstatic Music Festival and he created the work with rapper Kool A.D. The premiere will include performances by the Mivos Quartet, […]


Daedelus creates original score for Chaplin film

November 21, 2016

USC Thornton Jazz Studies alumnus Alfred Darlington (’00), known professionally as Daedelus, recently presented an original electronic music score to Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 silent film, “Easy Street.” The live performance was part of a film series at Fig@7th known as UnSilent Cinema, in which contemporary musicians perform original accompaniment to silent films.


Ronald McCurdy co-authors article on changing trends in performing arts education

November 9, 2016

USC Thornton Jazz Studies faculty member Ronald C. McCurdy co-authored an article in the October edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “The New Performing-Arts Curriculum.” The article, with contributions from faculty members of Clemson University in South Carolina, examined the need for performance and arts-related degree programs to adapt curricula to accommodate a […]


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