A Night of Celebration
USC Thornton marks the retirement of iconic faculty member with a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
By Will Proctor
Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Symphony, Wind Ensemble and Choral Artists at Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Photos by Lawrence K. Ho)
Trumpeter Troy Sargent prepares backstage at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
USC Thornton Choral Artists and strings students perform Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna."
Violists Yu-Ting Hsu (left) and Bradley Parrimore (right) performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Soloist Maura Tuffy singing Frank Ticheli's "Angels in the Architecture" in the balcony of Walt Disney Concert Hall.
(From left) Max Opferkuch, Frederik Von Wurden and Fatima Trives Escolano performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Symphony, Wind Ensemble and Choral Artists.
USC Thornton Choral Artists perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
USC Thornton percussionists perform Frank Ticheli's "Angels in the Architecture."
It was a full house, and that was on the stage. On Sunday, April 14, over 120 musicians from across USC Thornton took over Walt Disney Concert Hall for a school-wide celebration that featured the USC Thornton Symphony, Wind Ensemble, and Choral Artists performing works by faculty and alumni composers.
Before maestro Carl St.Clair led the musicians in the iconic Lux Aeterna, he looked back into the audience to make sure that composer Morten Lauridsen, distinguished professor of composition at USC, was ready. After all, everyone in the hall was there to celebrate his over 50 years at USC. Lauridsen nodded, and St.Clair signaled for the musicians to start.
Twenty-eight minutes later the audience was on their feet with a standing ovation—for a beautiful rendition of the piece, for Lauridsen’s great artistry and longstanding dedication to USC, and for something more, a celebration of all that the school represents and for creating opportunities for students that are difficult to replicate elsewhere.
Lauridsen wasn’t the only USC Thornton composer in the spotlight that night. Conductor Sharon Lavery led the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble in the Downey Overture, a piece written for her by alumni composer Oscar Navarro, and maestro H. Robert Reynolds led the ensemble in Frank Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture. The exemplary composition featured student soloist Maura Tuffy serenading the hall from the balcony.
It was a big night, but the true testament might be found in something smaller: the chairs on the stage. Many students marveled at occupying the seats normally taken by their professors in their other job as members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The performance was their first taste of life as a professional musician, but since Thornton alumni and students winning orchestral jobs at an impressive rate, many will be back for more.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony rounded out the concert’s programming. “Beethoven’s Fifth continues the idea of Lux Aeterna, light everlasting,” St.Clair said. “With a victorious finale, it brings the concert to rousing conclusion.”
An incredible, emotional night marking the end of a fantastic career at USC, and the launch of many more.
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