Choral and Sacred Music News from the 2020-2021 Academic Year


Portrait of Scott Rieker

Scott Rieker Named Semi-Finalist in American Prize for Composition

June 14, 2021

Dr. Scott Rieker’s (DMA, ‘19), Director of Choral Music & Music Education, was named a semi-finalist in the American Prize for Composition, in the Choral Music division for his setting of five poems by former US Poet Laurate, Ted Kooser, entitled “Ted Kooser Suite.”


Cristian Grases appointed to Artistic Committee of World Symposium on Choral Music

April 8, 2021

Cristian Grases, chair of the Choral & Sacred Music program at USC Thornton, has been appointed to the Artistic Committee preparing the next World Symposium on Choral Music (WSCM). The event is scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar in 2023, bringing the WSCM to the Middle East for the very first time, and is… Continue reading Cristian Grases appointed to Artistic Committee of World Symposium on Choral Music


Alumni featured in Los Angeles Times about pandemic loss and hope

March 19, 2021

Three USC Thornton alumni were recently featured in a Los Angeles Times article on classical musicians’ stories of pandemic loss and hope. Alexander Blake (DMA ‘19), Melissa Tong (BM ‘00), and Jonathan Karoly (BM ‘97) shared their stories of overcoming struggles during the pandemic and embracing new opportunities. “This time has confirmed that I’m a… Continue reading Alumni featured in Los Angeles Times about pandemic loss and hope


Logo reading "American Choral Directors Association"

USC ACDA Student Chapter wins 2021 Outstanding Student Chapter Award

March 8, 2021

The American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) recognized USC Thornton’s ACDA Student Chapter with the Outstanding ACDA Student Chapter Award for 2021. Each year the award is given to a student chapter that best supports the advancement of choral music through its activities. The USC ACDA Student Chapter is advised by Cristian Grases, chair of the… Continue reading USC ACDA Student Chapter wins 2021 Outstanding Student Chapter Award


Photo of Alexander Lloyd Blake

Alexander Lloyd Blake featured in The New York Times

February 16, 2021

Choral & Sacred Music alum Alexander Lloyd Blake (DMA ‘19), was recently featured in an article in The New York Times discussing Tonality, the Los Angeles-based choral ensemble he founded. The article highlights seven music organizations like Tonality that have been working toward racial equity in the classical music industry. The article shares what inspired… Continue reading Alexander Lloyd Blake featured in The New York Times


Side by side images of Scott Rieker and Irene Apanovitch

Irene Apanovitch-Leites and Scott Rieker publish study in Choral Journal

February 2, 2021

Choral & Sacred Music alumni Irene Apanovitch-Leites (DMA ’19) and Scott Rieker (DMA ’19) 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… Continue reading Irene Apanovitch-Leites and Scott Rieker publish study in Choral Journal


Portrait of Dale Trumbore

Dale Trumbore shares virtual chorus experience in The Voice of OC

January 21, 2021

Dale Trumbore (MM ‘11), an alum of USC Thornton’s Composition program, 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… Continue reading Dale Trumbore shares virtual chorus experience in The Voice of OC


Portrait of Jerry Blackstone in suit and tie

Jerry Blackstone is artistic director of new documentary series about choral singing

January 13, 2021

Dr. Jerry Blackstone (DMA ‘86), GRAMMY Award-winner, USC Thornton alumnus, and former Artist in Residence with Thornton’s Choral & Sacred Music program, is the Artistic Director of the upcoming documentary series about choral singing in the U.S., “Choral Singing in America: Nurturing the Human Soul.” The series is being developed in response to the COVID-19… Continue reading Jerry Blackstone is artistic director of new documentary series about choral singing


Julia Tai in formal attire holding conducting baton

Julia Tai named Music Director of Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale

November 4, 2020

USC Thornton alum Julia Tai (BM ’02, MM ’04) has been named the new Music Director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. Tai also currently serves as the Music Director of Philharmonia Northwest and Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. In an article from the Missoulian, Tai shared that she is looking forward… Continue reading Julia Tai named Music Director of Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale


Jenny Wong pictured outdoors smiling to the camera

Jenny Wong named Associate Artistic Director of Los Angeles Master Chorale

October 27, 2020

Jenny Wong (MM ‘13, DMA ’17), an alum of USC Thornton’s Choral & Sacred Music program, has been appointed to the newly created role of Associate Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC). Wong first joined the ensemble as Assistant Conductor in 2016, and was named Associate Conductor in 2017. The Los Angeles… Continue reading Jenny Wong named Associate Artistic Director of Los Angeles Master Chorale