USC Thornton Symphony

Established in the early 1900s, the USC Thornton Symphony is a premier ensemble at the School of Music and a visible artistic presence in the Los Angeles music community.

USC Thornton students play in the orchestra string section.


Led by Carl St.Clair, the artistic leader of the Thornton Orchestras, and resident conductor Sharon Lavery, the symphony has worked with some of the world’s greatest conductors, composers and musicians. Special guests and mentors over the years include Henryk Górecki, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Conlon, John Williams and Joan Tower, to name a few.

The USC Thornton Symphony regularly collaborates interdepartmentally, providing opportunities for players to gain a breadth of experience. Annual partnerships include the USC Thornton Opera program and the New Music for Orchestra concert featuring works by Thornton student-composers, providing invaluable spaces for exploration that often advance professional careers.

Ensemble Information

The USC Thornton Symphony is led by Carl St.Clair, the artistic leader of the Thornton Orchestras, and resident conductor Sharon Lavery.

Conductor Carl St.Clair leads the student symphony from the podium.

Artistic Leader and Principal Conductor of the USC Thornton Orchestras Carl St.Clair is a strong advocate of music education for all ages. He is internationally recognized for his distinguished career as conductor and as a pedagogue.

Sharon Lavery serves as Resident Conductor of the USC Thornton Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, and Thornton Winds at the University of Southern California.  Her extensive career has led to conducting in distinguished concert halls globally.

Ensemble Performances

Collaborations with major figures in the field of music from Bruno Walter and Leopold Stokowski to Witold Lutosławski have long defined the symphony as one with tremendous range and ability. After Górecki led the ensemble in the West Coast premiere of his third symphony in 1997, he claimed it to be the best musical ensemble with which he had personally worked.

Student cellist smiles at the camera from the orchestra.

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