Classical Performance and Composition

USC Thornton’s Division of Classical Performance and Composition, ‘The Conservatory’, is built on a rich tradition of pairing legendary artist/faculty with extraordinary students of the highest caliber from across the globe.

Our acclaimed programs include Choral & Sacred Music, Classical Guitar, Composition, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, Keyboard Studies, Organ Studies, Strings, Vocal Arts & Opera, and Winds & Percussion.

ARTISTRY is what drives us. A world-class faculty with a passion for teaching, for true excellence and the cultivation of music in our society through the continued success and fulfillment of our students.

VISION is what guides us. The ability to recognize and anticipate the ever-changing landscape of classical music and the foresight to prepare our students for what lies ahead.

COMMUNITY is who we are. A rigorous conservatory of music, nestled within an elite research university in the musically vibrant city of Los Angeles, in which our students are mentored in an exceptionally close-knit environment and offered rich and unique opportunities for study.

“The Division of Classical Performance and Composition is essentially a rigorous conservatory of music, nestled within a prestigious research university, where students have amazing opportunities to explore a wide array of studies.  But we are more than a conservatory.  We are a strong and close-knit community where students are constantly encouraged to challenge themselves and to think outside the box. We recognize that, in order to be a truly great artist, one must thoroughly understand the culture and context of the music we perform.  And furthermore, we understand the constantly evolving landscape of classical music and have the foresight to prepare our students for what lies ahead.  In my estimation, there is no better place for such exploration and study than USC, where the arts are a proud centerpiece of the university.”

Lucinda Carver
Vice Dean
Classical Performance and Composition

event calendar

Upcoming events

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  • Music Education Discussion with Susan O'Neill

    Susan O'Neill, president-elect of the International Society for Music Education, leads a discussion on music education with students in USC Thornton’s Music Teaching & Learning program. O'Neill is Professor in Arts and Music Education and Associate Dean, Academic and Research in the Faculty of Education, at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She has been working in the area of musical development and learning for over 20 years with an emphasis on fostering young people's musical engagement in ways that explore and contribute to creative learning opportunities, motivation, positive youth development, well-being, musical identities, intergenerational relationships, digital media and multimodal creative collaborations, and cultural understandings. This event will take place in the Herklotz Library Seminar Room, Music Library, of the Doheny Memorial Library.

    Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

  • And Still We Rise: Women of Color Creating Community through the Arts

    Organized by Ken Foster, director of the USC Thornton Arts Leadership Program, two interactive events—a conversation and a dance flash mob—celebrate the impacts of women of color arts leaders. Women of color have long been at the forefront of community building and social activism through the arts. Dance companies, music ensembles, theatre troupes, and other arts groups led by women of color have worked in distinctly collaborative, intergenerational ways to not only preserve their cultural heritage but also build vibrant, healthy, and engaged communities. Free RSVP required. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative.

    Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

  • CANCELLED - Faculty Recital with Jessica Maxfield

    Classical saxophonist Jessica Maxfield presents her first faculty recital since joining the Winds & Percussion faculty in 2017, with pianist Akina Motoyama. The performance will include works by two USC Thornton faculty, Sean Friar and Andrew Norman, as well as pieces by Edison Denisov and Florent Schmitt. This event has been cancelled. Please check for rescheduling details.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Symphony: A Hero's Welcome

    Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Symphony in a wide-ranging program, including Richard Strauss's spectacular tone-poem, Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life).

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Opera Scenes

    The singing actors of the USC Thornton Opera program present an exciting and wide-ranging selection of excerpts, from operetta to grand opera.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Music as Medicine: Renée Fleming and Antonio Damasio in Conversation

    Join a forward-thinking discussion with opera star Renée Fleming, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, and LA Opera CEO and president Christopher Koelsch about the connections between music and the brain—and the very real possibility that music is part of the solution to intractable problems like chronic pain and cancer. The discussion will be interwoven with live musical performances by LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists. Listen and learn about the role music and other arts can play in tackling the most difficult diseases and improving health and wellness. Free RSVP required. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts & Humanities Initiative

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Faculty Recital with Judith Farmer and Andrew Shulman

    USC Thornton faculty bassoonist Judith Farmer and cellist Andrew Shulman present a joint recital featuring faculty pianist Jeffrey Kahane, alumni pianists Nadia Shpachenko and Nic Gerpe, and alumni clarinetist Edgar Lopez. The evening recital includes duo performances by Shulman and Kahane, longtime collaborators in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, of works by Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten that explore the teacher-pupil relationship between the two composers. Farmer will lead an ensemble in a performance of works by Thornton alumnus Gernot Wolfgang including the world premiere of Road Signs for Bassoon and Piano. A previous collaboration between the artists led to a 2016 GRAMMY nomination.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Chamber Music Masterclass with Lawrence Dutton

    Lawrence Dutton, distinguished violist of the nine-time GRAMMY Award-winning Emerson String Quartet, leads a chamber music masterclass with USC Thornton's talented Strings students.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • Donuts With the Dean

    Grab a free donut and share your questions, ideas, and impressions with Robert Cutietta, Dean of USC Thornton, in this informal feedback session for Thornton students.

    Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall (AES)

  • USC Thornton Wind Ensemble: Contemporary Voices

    H. Robert Reynolds and Sharon Lavery lead the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble in a concert of works by contemporary composers, including the world premiere of a work by Thornton student Celka Ojakangas. The program will include Larry Tuttle’s Across the Divide, the premiere of Ojakangas’ Bonehead Fizzix, Stephen Goss’ A Concerto of Colours, David T. Little’s Radiant Child, Gustav Holst's Suite No. 2 in F, and Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos. PROGRAM: Larry Tuttle – Across the Divide Celka Ojakangas – Bonehead Fizzix (Premiere) Stephen Goss – A Concerto of Colours (Guitar) David T. Little – Radiant Child Gustav Holst – Suite No. 2 in F Roberto Sierra – Fandangos

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Faculty Recital with Stephen Pierce: An Exploration of 20th Century Afrikaans Art Song

    Keyboard Studies faculty Stephen Pierce presents “An Exploration of 20th Century Afrikaans Art Song” with soprano Bronwen Forbay. The recital will will explore Afrikaans art songs composed between the 1930s and 1990s by South African composers Pieter de Villiers, Hendrik Hofmeyr, Chris Lambrecht, S. le Roux Marais, P. J. Lemmer, John Pescod, and Arnold van Wyk.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Strings: Open Performance Evening

    Outstanding students of Thornton’s Strings program present an evening of solo and chamber performances.

    MacDonald Recital Hall (MUS)

  • news archive


    Clarinetists earn prizes at the Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition

    January 19, 2018

    Two USC Thornton clarinet students recently took prizes in the 2018 Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition. Masters candidate Ryan Toher earned 1st Prize in Classical Clarinet. This month, Toher will also participate in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program traveling to New York City for an intensive ten days… read more

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