Five Days of Thornton


Five golden rings, four turtle doves? Well, something like that.

While our students and faculty are packing their holiday bags and returning to their homes near and far, we wanted to celebrate with our own Twelve Days of Christmas — or, in this case, Five Days of Thornton, a week-long look back at an amazing fall semester.

Monday: Five Amazing AlumniTuesday: Four Incredible Performances
Wednesday: Three Fantastic FeaturesThursday: Two Nominations
Friday: A New Model for Music Education


Continuing its commitment to reimagining music education for the 21st Century, USC Thornton’s biggest accomplishment this fall was the launch of a new Master’s degree in K-12 Contemporary Teaching Practice. The degree is a rethinking, top to bottom, of what it means to train music educators.

“We are looking to transform the landscape of music teaching and learning to a more contemporary place that celebrates the musical world students inhabit in 2017,” said Peter Webster, Vice Dean of Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies and Scholar-in-Residence.

Graduates of the program, which provides a credential path for students who wish to teach in public or private schools in California and other states, will leave with the tools to lead a choir or orchestra in the morning, a rock band or acapella group in the afternoon, and coach songwriters on an ipad in the evening. Applications are now open through January 17th.


Less than two years out of school, Screen Scoring alum Duncan Thum (’06, GC ’13) was nominated for his first Emmy Award. The following year, he was nominated again.

USC Thornton artists made their mark on the 60th GRAMMY Award nominations, with faculty and alumni receiving nods across eight categories. Alumni Billy Childs, Michael Tilson Thomas, and many Jazz Studies faculty and alumni received nominations.


International Experiences
As part of the first exchange with Finland’s Sibelius Academy, Composition student Curtis Green described everything, from nearly losing his way home in Helsinki’s sub-freezing temperatures to rethinking his artistic process, in a remarkable semester abroad.

Returning to Studio A
Thornton thrives on collaboration, and that is particularly true in the Contemporary Music Division. Last April, the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra, along with Music Production and Recording students, gathered at Capitol Records to record big-band arrangements of classic film scores adapted by Screen Scoring majors.

Learning on the Job
Arts Leadership alum Benjamin Mitchell reflected on the ongoing success of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, an innovative and conductorless ensemble that is shaking up notions of how, when, and where we present classical music.


On Campus

On Oct. 27, the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble presented the West Coast premiere of Composition faculty Frank Ticheli’s Silver Lining: Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble featuring fellow faculty member James Walker on flute. They began the concert with another faculty premiere, performing Boyde Hood’s Autunno Toscana.

In November, the USC Thornton Opera Program presented Handel’s Alcina with a decidedly contemporary edge, right down to its wildly-tattooed protagonists and surrealistic set. This production marked just the first in a series of collaborations with the School of Dramatic Arts. Next March, USC Thornton and the USC Kaufman School of Dance will team with the school to present a new production of West Side Story, which Vocal Arts & Opera chair Kenneth Cazan will direct.

Off Campus

A celebration of the USC Village was never going to be a small-time affair. The $700 million development is the largest in the history of South Los Angeles, and when it came time for a performance, USC Thornton anchored the evening with two monumental pieces featuring the USC Thornton Symphony, Choral Artists, and students from the Classical Guitar program.

The USC Thornton Jazz Composers’ Collective performed at the 60th annual Monterey Jazz Festival on Sunday, Sept. 17. What’s possibly more impressive than their two slots on the main stages of the storied festival is that the musicians won the opportunity by showcasing original music.


USC Thornton Music Industry alumnus Ben Adelson (’09) recently made Billboard Magazine’s list of “40 under 40: Music’s Top Young Power Players Revealed.”

Composer Julia Adolphe (MM ’12), a USC Thornton doctoral candidate, is Musical America’s New Artist of the Month for December. Recent premieres include work with both Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

Saxophonist and Jazz Studies alumnus Alex Hahn (MM ’16) has released new album, Emerging, featuring performances by USC Thornton students Paul Cornish, Ramsey Castaneda, and Logan Kane, as well as alumnus Jon Hatamiya (MM ’16), Hahn’s colleague at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Violinist Michelle Tseng (’13, GCRT ’17), an alumna of the USC Thornton Strings program, recently joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a Second Violinist.

Jenny Wong (MM ’13, choral), a DMA candidate in the Choral & Sacred Music program, was promoted to the role of Associate Conductor for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. She has previously served as Assistant Conductor with the ensemble, in addition to her duties as Interim Director of Music at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

Check back each day this week for new stories in our “Five Days of Thornton” recap!