Alumni Spotlight: Greg Reitan


For composer Greg Reitan, the foundation he gained from his education at USC Thornton has been a launching point for a thriving career.

Though he had always been interested in music – from culling through his father’s record collection as a child, to starting piano lessons at age 10 – Reitan didn’t become interested in composition until later.

“I had composed a few pieces as a kid, but a pivotal moment came in Erica Muhl’s first year theory class where there was an assignment to compose a short piano piece in a modern style,” says Reitan. “She encouraged me to major in composition and this ended up being a wonderful complement to my performance studies.”

Reitan studied piano and composition at USC, and earned his degree in 1996. He had the opportunity to study with accomplished faculty members including Erica Muhl, Stephen Hartke, Frank Ticheli, Joe Harnell, David Raskin and so many others who shaped his experience and provided opportunities for growth.

“I really enjoyed being completely immersed in the theory and practice of music,” says Reitan of his time at USC Thornton.

Reitan says that in addition to the faculty, his peers played an important role in his growth, and have continued to have an impact on his career. His affiliation with these fellow USC Thornton alumni – many of whom are now soloists, orchestra members, film composers, and music executives – help to maintain important connections in the music world.

As an example of this collaboration, Reitan has recorded and performed several works as part of a jazz trio with Jack Daro, MM ’99, acoustic bass, and Dean Koba, MM ’93, percussion. The three met while in school at USC in their ensemble classes.

Reitan’s career is certainly thriving. One standout moment centers around the release of his 2010 album “Antibes” on Sunnyside Records. Legendary record producer Orrin Keepnews – the individual responsible for launching the careers of Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, and other major jazz musicians – heard an advance copy of the album and called Reitan on the phone to offer to write liner notes for the album – something Keepnews rarely does for albums he is not directly involved with.

“It was quite an honor,” says Reitan.

Reitan says that, though it has been challenging to learn the business side of music – one that is very different from the creation of music – it has been necessary to do this in order to be successful. It’s apparent that his work has paid off. This fall, his new album, “Daybreak,” was released on Sunnyside Records, and Reitan was a featured performer in the 2011 USC Thornton Alumni Association Concert, which received rave reviews.

More information about Greg Reitan can be found on his website.

TAGS: Alumni, Classical Division, Classical Performance and Composition, Composition, Jazz Studies,

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