Contemporary Music

By bringing together jazz, industry, technology, popular music, studio guitar, and film scoring into a single learning environment, USC Thornton’s Division of Contemporary Music has created the foundation of a professional network for our students.

“Through interaction, collaboration, and a dynamic curriculum, students in the Contemporary Music Division have hands-on experiences designed to prepare them for careers in music. All under the direction of a truly remarkable faculty, each one dedicated to our student’s development as artists, professionals, and human beings.

USC Thornton has a long tradition of innovative programs. We were among the first in the nation to offer degrees in jazz studies, studio guitar, film scoring, and music industry. This tradition continues with the recent addition of our Popular Music program. Along with our outstanding classical and academic programs, we are one of the most distinctive and comprehensive music programs you will find in the world.


The results of this experience can be found in the success of our alumni. Current and former students are Grammy nominees, in-demand producers, established film composers, touring musicians, recording artists, and accomplished educators.

So, I invite you to come to the USC campus to visit the Division of Contemporary Music and see for yourself—meet with our staff and faculty, sit-in on a class, attend a showcase or concert. As you get to know more, I believe you’ll understand why we take enormous pride in our programs and in USC. I hope to meet you soon!”

Christopher Sampson
Vice Dean
Contemporary Music

event calendar

Upcoming events

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  • Chamber Singers: Prayers and Intercessions

    The USC Thornton Chamber Singers present a program of "Prayers and Intercessions" including Debussy's Trois Chansons and Christina Whitten Thomas' Choral de Betes. The concert features the American premiere of Johann Naumann's Psalm 149, which marks the culmination of a scholarly and artistic collaboration between the Choral & Sacred Music Department, the USC Music Library and its director, Andrew Justice, and the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany.

    St. John's Episcopal Cathedral

  • Popular Music: Third-Year Showcase

    Third-year Popular Music students present original music written, arranged, and performed under the direction of professors Patrice Rushen and Richard Smith.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Concerto Competition Finals: Strings

    Always a popular event, this competition performance brings selected student finalists from the Strings department before a panel of guest adjudicators.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • USC Thornton Symphony

    Carl St.Clair and the USC Thornton Symphony begin the fall semester with an evocative concert of masterworks and less-familiar gems.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra

    Music director Jason Goldman leads the Concert Jazz Orchestra in an evening of big band standards and original compositions.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • news archive

    News

    Thornton students to participate in serendipitous Sofar Sounds concert

    April 27, 2017

    Four USC Thornton Popular Music students will perform on the evening of Sunday, April 30th as part of the Sofar Sounds performance series on the USC campus. The series aims to create buzz by presenting unannounced musical artists in secretive locations, which are revealed to audiences just before each event.… read more

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