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 Showcase

    The Composition program presents a showcase of new solo, chamber, and vocal works by student composers.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: Intermedia

    The Composition department presents the annual electro-acoustic showcase, led by DMA student Eric Pham. Composers and choreographers, from within the USC community and afar, have come together to form collaborative groups. Each group has created a piece that represents its explorations in intermedia relationships, electro-acoustic hybridity, and innovative uses of performance spaces. "Intermedia" will showcase the results of these explorations.

    Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall (AES)

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    LACO premieres new commission by Juan Pablo Contreras

    February 13, 2019

    This week, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) will premiere composer and USC Thornton DMA student Juan Pablo Contreras’ new piano quintet, Musas Mexicanas. The two-night debut will take place Thursday, Feb. 13 at Santa Monica’s Moss Theater and Friday, Feb. 15 at The Huntington in San Marino. Commissioned as part… read more

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