Sharon Lavery

Associate Professor of Practice

  • Program:
  • Division:
    Classical Performance and Composition
  • Expertise:


Sharon Lavery’s extensive career has led her to conduct in preeminent concert halls across the United States, including Carnegie Hall on several occasions.  Currently, she serves as resident conductor of the Thornton Symphony, Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.  She has led the USC Thornton ensembles in concert on countless occasions, and served as music director of the Thornton Concert Orchestra for seven years.  In addition to these duties at USC Thornton, Lavery teaches instrumental conducting classes.

Outside of USC, Lavery enjoys a distinguished professional career.  Since 2007 she has been music director of the Downey Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble hailed as one of the best metropolitan orchestras in Southern California.  This position has brought Lavery great acclaim for her innovative programming.  During her tenure as music director, she has premiered or commissioned a new composition each season. 

Maestra Lavery has attained prominence as a conductor throughout California. She often freelances in the Los Angeles area with AFM Local 47 union orchestras, including conducting on recordings with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra at Warner Bros. studio and with the La Brea Sinfonietta, produced by Delos Records, Inc. Ms. Lavery has also worked with the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition Orchestra in Palm Springs, CA. Since 2004 she has held the post of cover conductor for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and has also served as cover conductor for the San Diego Symphony.  Lavery has led the La Jolla Symphony in concert, served as assistant conductor to the Pasadena Symphony, and for many years was associate conductor of the Herbert Zipper Orchestra of Los Angeles.

Lavery is also nationally known as an advocate for music education. She has conducted the Honors Performance Series Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, a national honors orchestra consisting of some of the most elite high school musicians in the country. She has conducted the California All-State High School Concert Band, the Texas 4A All-State Band, and has appeared multiple times as conductor of the Honors Performance Series Band at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Lavery has also served as a guest conductor for several district honor bands throughout California.

Previously, Lavery served as music director of the MUSE International Music Day Festival in Chiba, Japan. Performances of works she has conducted (both orchestra and wind ensemble) are frequently aired on the largest non-profit classical music station in the country, Classical KUSC, 91.5.

Hailing from Ossining, New York, Lavery received her bachelor of music education degree from Michigan State University and master of music in clarinet performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. She also earned a master of music in orchestral conducting from USC Thornton, receiving the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Scholarship for two consecutive years.

Academic degrees

  • MM, New England Conservatory of Music, 1993; MM, USC Thornton School of Music, 2000
  • BM, Michigan State University