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 fellowships, American Composers Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra reading sessions, among many others.

The Composition department emphasizes performance opportunities for student composers. Student works are premiered at Contemporary Music Ensemble concerts, student recitals, and at the annual New Music for Orchestra concert – an event which has premiered over 200 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.

Our department’s curriculum offers thorough training in composition, musicianship, theory, analysis, orchestration and counterpoint. Electives in electronic and computer music are also available. Students who successfully complete our BM degree are guaranteed acceptance into the graduate certificate program in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television.

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Spotlights

event calendar

Upcoming events

  • Electro-Acoustic Showcase

    The Composition department presents the annual electro-acoustic showcase, led by DMA student Eric Pham, featuring works by student composers that combine electronic instruments and signal processing with acoustic instruments

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Thornton Edge

    Thornton Edge presents a program of works by Stephen Hartke, Barbara White, and Magnus Lindberg, as well as Jeffrey Holmes' virtuosic microtonal work for nine players, Hagall. Composition chair Donald Crockett conducts. PROGRAM: Gradūs (1999) by Stephen Hartke (b. 1952) Nick Davies, clarinet Richard An, piano Ethan Ahmad, percussion Mann-Wen Lo, violin Peter Myers, cello Rebecca Lawrence, bass Learning to See (2000) by Barbara White (b.1965) Elissa Brown, flute Frederik von Wurden, clarinet Richard An, piano Ethan Ahmad, percussion Mann-Wen Lo, violin Peter Myers, cello Ablauf (1983) by Magnus Lindberg (1958) Nick Davies, clarinet Tyler Eschendal and Ethan Ahmad, percussion Hagall (2015) by Jeffrey Holmes Emma McCartney, flute Theodosia Roussos, oboe Sérgio Coelho, e flat clarinet Taylor Eiffert, contra clarinet Weston Mccall, horn Tyler Eschendal and Thomas Kolakowski, percussion Ali Can Puskulcu, violin Diana Wade, viola Peter Myers, cello Rebecca Lawrence, bass Free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served, and RSVPs are not available.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Paul Dresher and the Dresher/Davel Instrument Duo

    Composer and musician Paul Dresher and percussionist Joel Davel join forces for an electro-acoustic performance on extraordinary instruments of their own invention. Dresher and Davel will create otherworldly music on the four-stringed, fifteen-foot-long quadrachord, the seven-stringed, 10-foot-long hurdy grande, and electronic-music pioneer Don Buchla’s magical Marimba Lumina. Following the concert, Dresher will present a short talk about his instruments and invite the audience to come onstage and try them out for themselves. Organized by Karen Koblitz from the USC Roski School of Art and Design and Veronika Krausas from the USC Thornton School of Music, the performance is presented in conjunction with Sound Maze, an exhibition of Dresher's instruments on display at the USC Fisher Museum of Art from March 3 through 8. Presented by USC Visions and Voices; the Arts & Humanities Initiative.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Choreographers & Composers

    This collaboration between the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the USC Thornton School of Music brings together 33 student choreographers and seven student composers in one unforgettable program. The performance will be presented twice: March 8th and 9th.

    Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

  • Choreographers & Composers

    This collaboration between the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the USC Thornton School of Music brings together 33 student choreographers and seven student composers in one unforgettable program. The performance will be presented twice: March 8th and 9th.

    Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

  • Composition Showcase

    The Composition department presents two concerts featuring new solo, chamber, and vocal works by student composers. The celebrated program has included Pulitzer Prize finalists and major award winners among its recent alumni. The first program will take place at 3:00 PM and the second at 7:00 PM.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Thornton Edge

    Donald Crockett leads Thornton Edge, Thornton’s new music group, in a program of modern works for large ensemble.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)


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    News

    Alumnus Mark Robson’s Piano Spheres performance praised by the L.A. Times

    February 8, 2017

    Pianist and USC Thornton alumnus Mark Robson (MM ’89) presented an adventurous program as part of REDCAT’s Piano Spheres series at REDCAT last month, featuring works by Stockhausen, Glass, and Rihm. Robson also premiered new work by the Los Angeles composer Daniel Rothman. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times… read more

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