Composition

Composition

Overview

The composers on the USC Thornton faculty are outstanding members of the international musical community, with major commissions, awards, recordings and residencies among the faculty’s many accolades. Composition students, among the finest in the country, regularly win national awards and commissions, including: ASCAP and BMI awards, New York Symphony Orchestra First Music commissions, Aspen and Tanglewood fellowships, American Composers Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra reading sessions, among many others.

The Composition Program strongly emphasizes performance opportunities for student composers. Student works are premiered at Thornton Edge new music ensemble concerts, student department showcases and recitals, and at the annual New Music for Orchestra concert with the USC Thornton Symphony – an event which has premiered over 150 USC Thornton student orchestral works. The USC Thornton choruses, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and chamber music program provide composition students with significant reading and performance opportunities as well.

Our Program’s curriculum offers thorough training in composition, musicianship, theory, analysis, orchestration and counterpoint. Electives in electro-acoustic composition are also available. Students who complete the BM, MM, or DMA in composition at USC Thornton are given priority status for admission to the MM Screen Scoring program. Those wishing to pursue this option are required to meet with the director of the Screen Scoring program as early as possible in their composition studies at USC Thornton in order to determine which additional courses they must successfully complete (typically 5 units or less), and what other steps they must take (including but not limited to submission of an application), to secure their spot in the Screen Scoring program.

event calendar

Upcoming events

  • Composition Department Recital with HOCKET

    HOCKET, the new music piano duo featuring alumni Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff, presents two works by USC Thornton Composition faculty written for them, including new faculty member Nina Young’s Tête-À-Tête, and a world premiere of Sean Friar’s Come Again. Special guests include Hitomi Oba on tenor saxophone and Derek Tywoniuk on percussion. The recital also features works by Cerrone, Gibson, Oba, and Tywoniuk. PROGRAM: Derek Tywoniuk: like (Write it!) like disaster for percussion, piano, and toy piano Hitomi Oba: taste, inaugurate! for piano four-hands and tenor saxophone Sean Friar: Come again for two pianos Sarah Gibson: our eyes once watered for piano four-hands Nina Young: tete a tete for two toy pianos and electronics Christopher Cerrone: Arching Path for two pianos

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Edge

    Donald Crockett leads the USC Thornton Edge new music group in a program that features Thornton composer and violinist Nicholas Bentz in Giacinto Scelsi's Anahit for violin and 18 instruments, and Karen Tanaka's Water and Stone.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Composition Showcase

    The venerable USC Thornton Composition program presents an afternoon concert showcasing new solo, chamber, and vocal works by student composers.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Edge

    Donald Crockett leads the USC Thornton Edge new music group in a program surveying colorful and virtuosic new music from northern Europe, focusing on works from Norway and Finland. Also featured, is the premiere of a new work for sinfonietta by recent Thornton DMA graduate Georgi Dimitrov.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Activated Chambers: A Performance Journey Featuring yMusic and Nadia Sirota

    Composers from USC Thornton and choreographers from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance collaborate with acclaimed chamber ensemble yMusic and Nadia Sirota in Activated Chambers, featuring works for stage, screen, and multimedia installation that culminates in the West Coast premiere of professor Andrew Norman’s newest work for yMusic, created specifically for the event and accompanied by original choreography. Equally elegant and unkempt, ordered and disordered, formal and informal, “Activated Chambers” is a fusion of reactive artforms playing on and with each other as a new construction, a new compound—and a new movement. The event will close with a post-show discussion led by Nadia Sirota, yMusic violist and host of the Peabody Award–winning podcast Meet the Composer, along with USC professors Jennifer McQuiston Lott, Dawn Stoppiello, and Rick Schmunk. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

  • Activated Chambers: A Performance Journey Featuring yMusic and Nadia Sirota

    Composers from USC Thornton and choreographers from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance collaborate with acclaimed chamber ensemble yMusic and Nadia Sirota in Activated Chambers, featuring works for stage, screen, and multimedia installation that culminates in the West Coast premiere of professor Andrew Norman’s newest work for yMusic, created specifically for the event and accompanied by original choreography. Equally elegant and unkempt, ordered and disordered, formal and informal, “Activated Chambers” is a fusion of reactive artforms playing on and with each other as a new construction, a new compound—and a new movement. The event will close with a post-show discussion led by Nadia Sirota, yMusic violist and host of the Peabody Award–winning podcast Meet the Composer, along with USC professors Jennifer McQuiston Lott, Dawn Stoppiello, and Rick Schmunk. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center


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    News

    Michael Lee commissioned by Ensemble Ari

    August 21, 2019

    Ensemble Ari will premiere USC Thornton alumnus Michael Lee’s (DMA ’17) “Ghost Break Dance” at the Friends of Chamber Music concert series at the University of the Pacific on September 22. The work was commissioned by the Bay Area ensemble. Additionally, a composition written by Lee while he was at… read more

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