John Williams and the USC Thornton Symphony

By Evan Calbi

The last time legendary conductor John Williams took the podium to lead the USC Thornton Symphony, lines of concert-goers snaked down Trousdale Parkway, masses of people crowded the entrance only to be turned away from the sold-out event, and the entire floor and first balcony of Bovard Auditorium were filled for a rehearsal that afternoon.

As Thornton again embarks on another season of exceptional events on Friday, Sep. 7th, we defer to the famed maestro for his take on working with USC students. “The orchestra played at a fabulous level with a level of professionalism that, well, I guess you would kind of expect at a school of that distinction,” he said.

Since its inception in the early 1900s, the USC Thornton Symphony has been a visible artistic presence in the Los Angeles music community with notable faculty members like Jascha Heifetz, Ingolf Dahl, and now Margaret Batjer, Ralph Kirshbaum, and more. Williams reflects that “SC and Thornton School of Music was the apex of what music study could offer.”

In this delightful interview, the 2005 honorary degree-recipient speaks highly of the vision of USC Thornton’s Dean, Robert Cutietta. Williams ends by noting how responsive and talented Thornton students were and that “anytime they would like to invite me back, I’m happy to come.”

Uh, Dean Cutietta? We can make this happen, right?

USC Thornton opens its Fall 2018 season this Friday, Sep. 7th when maestro Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Symphony in a work that forever shifted the musical landscape — Gustav Mahler’s iconic First Symphony. Free and open to the public.

TAGS: Alumni, Classical Performance and Composition, Strings, Winds and Percussion,

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