A collage of music students performing on stage.

Spring 2024 Live Events Preview

By Julie Riggott

USC Thornton offers music fans of every persuasion — from classical and choral to pop and jazz — an abundance of free concerts and other events this spring.

The USC Thornton School of Music has organized a stellar lineup of live events this spring, from orchestral concerts to jazz nights, showcasing the performance and composition talents of students and faculty alike. USC Thornton has also invited distinguished guest musicians and conductors for concerts and masterclasses; among them are the Verona String Quartet, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and jazz guitarist Adam Rogers. USC Thornton also hosts the 2024 Pop Conference and the Association for Popular Music Education National Conference.

Events will take place January through June on USC’s University Park campus. Most are free and open to the public.

Following are highlights of USC Thornton’s spring events. The full calendar, along with event times and campus locations (and ticket or RSVP information when applicable), is available here.

Composers & performers Laura Ortman and Raven Chacon. (Photo by Photo by Manuel Molina Maragón/Public Art Fund 2023)


Friday, Jan. 19
Nobody Knows: (Un)Muted Voices

Presented in celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nobody Knows: (Un)Muted Voices is inspired by the first two words of the African American spiritual, “Nobody Knows (The Troubles I’ve Seen).” USC Thornton School of Music Professor Ronald C. McCurdy and USC School of Dramatic Arts Professor Anita Dashiell-Sparks will curate performances by students who will tell their stories via poetry, dance, video and music. The event will also include a conversation facilitated by Rossier School of Education Professor Brandi P. Jones.

Thursday, Feb. 8
An Evening with Laura Ortman and Raven Chacon

Award-winning composers Laura Ortman and Raven Chacon will draw from their respective practices and build upon their previous collaborations to create an experiential, improvisational live set of sound and movement.

Saturday, Apr. 27
Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live 4

This exciting outdoor event showcases talent from across the schools of USC with live music, dance performance, large-scale projection mapping and interactive installations.

Photo of a symphony performing on stage
Sharon Lavery, Resident Conductor of the Thornton Symphony, leads the ensemble on stage at Bovard Auditorium. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging Inc.)


Friday, Jan. 26
USC Thornton Symphony with Hans Graf

The first concert of the spring semester features the USC Thornton Symphony. Distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf leads a program of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus Overture and Blue Danube Waltz as well as Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73.

Friday, Feb. 9
USC Thornton Winds with Michael Haithcock

The USC Thornton Winds are led by guest conductor Michael Haithcock in La Création du monde by Darius Milhaud, AMEN! by Carlos Simon, Sinfonia by Zhou Tian and Divertimento in E-flat major, K. 166 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Friday, Feb. 23
USC Thornton Symphony: New Music for Orchestra 

Donald Crockett, chair of the Composition program, leads the USC Thornton Symphony in the annual New Music for Orchestra concert featuring original works from Thornton’s celebrated student composers.

Friday, March 8
USC Thornton Symphony performs Higdon and Strauss

Carl St.Clair, artistic leader and principal conductor of the USC Thornton orchestras, leads the USC Thornton Symphony in Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40.

Friday, March 29
USC Thornton Winds with Gary Hill 

The USC Thornton Winds are led by guest conductor Gary Hill in a program featuring “Energetically” from Chen Yi’s Dragon RhymesLe Bal de Beatrice d’Este by Reynaldo Hahn, Vivid Dreams by Catherine Likhuta, Emblems by Aaron Copland and Kevin Day’s Concerto for Wind Ensemble.

Friday, April 12
USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra

Carl St.Clair leads the USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra in a program featuring Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, Narong Prangcharoen’s Absence of Time (Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Orchestra) and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67.


USC Thornton presents the Chamber Music Festival: four days and nights of chamber music from the exceptional students of USC Thornton.

Monday, Apr. 22 & Wednesday, Apr. 24
Winds and Percussion

Tuesday, Apr. 23 & Wednesday, Apr. 24

Tuesday, Apr. 23
Vocal Arts

Thursday, Apr. 25
Classical Guitar

A student trombone player performs on stage.
The USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra performs in Carson Soundstage. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging Inc.)


Mondays: Feb. 5, Feb. 26, Mar. 18
Jazz Night at Carson 

Jazz Night at Carson features a blend of original compositions and standards performed by USC Thornton students. These performances include three combos led by faculty members from the Jazz Studies department.

Monday, Feb. 12
Jazz Night at Carson with Honors Combo

The USC Thornton Honors Combo, featuring alumnus and pianist Jacob Mann, headlines Jazz Night at Carson under the direction of faculty member Jason Goldman.

Monday, Mar. 4
Jazz Night at Carson with USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra and the Yellowjackets

The USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra, led by trombonist Jon Hatamiya, is joined by the Grammy Award-winning Yellowjackets.

Monday, Mar. 25
Jazz Night at Carson with ALAJE

Jazz Night at Carson features ALAJE, the Afro-Latin American Jazz Ensemble led by faculty member Aarón Serfaty, performing music from various genres of Latin culture.

Monday, Apr. 15
Jazz Night at Carson with CreSCendo

Vocal jazz ensemble CreSCendo headlines Jazz Night at Carson. The performance also features two combos led by faculty members from the Jazz Studies department.


Wednesdays: Feb. 21, Mar. 6, Mar. 27, Apr. 3, Apr. 10
Strings Showcase

Students of USC Thornton’s Strings department showcase their talents.

Tuesday, Feb. 27
Thornton Edge

New music ensemble Thornton Edge, under the direction of faculty member Donald Crockett, offers a look at vocal music from diverse styles and points of view. The concert features music by Morton Feldman and graduate student composers Anuj Bhutani, Timothy Peterson and Veronica Ratliff.

Sunday, Mar. 3, at 3 and 7 p.m.
USC Thornton Composition Program Recital

In this chamber music doubleheader, the outstanding, award-winning students of the USC Thornton Composition Program present ink-still-wet new works, full of surprises.

A student violinist performs in concert.
Student saxophone players perform in concert.
A student ensemble of classical music instrumentalists perform in concert.

Classical performance students in concert from chamber music to symphony settings. (Photos by Photos by Willow Cai [1] and Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging Inc. [2 & 3])

Saturday, Mar. 23
USC Polish Music Center presents Verona String Quartet with Bernadene Blaha

The USC Polish Music Center presents works by pioneering Polish composer and polymath Grażyna Bacewicz, performed by pianist and USC Thornton faculty member Bernadene Blaha and the Verona String Quartet. The Verona String Quartet will also hold a masterclass during their residency at USC.

Sunday, Mar. 24
Electro-Acoustic Composition Showcase

Students in the USC Thornton Composition program present original work for digital media and live instrumentalists under the direction of faculty member Nina Young. 

Thursday, Mar. 28
Solo Bach Competition

A panel of three eminent external adjudicators will listen to selected Strings students performing complete sonatas, partitas and suites of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Tuesday, Apr. 9
Thornton Edge

Under the direction of faculty member Donald Crockett, Thornton Edge presents the world premiere of alumnus Nicolas Bentz’s the shifting earth and the West Coast premiere of Crockett’s Violin Concerto with soloist David Bowlin.

Thursday, Apr. 11
Pop Strings and Americana Showcase

Students from the Pop Strings and Americana ensembles perform.

Photo of popular music students performing on stage.
Students from the popular music program perform a showcase of original music. (Photo by Gabi Muchacho)


Thursday, Feb. 29; Friday, Mar. 1; Wednesday, Apr. 24; Thursday, Apr. 25; Friday, Apr. 26

First, second and third-year students from the USC Thornton Popular Music program demonstrate their talents in performance, songwriting, arranging and production in this series of concerts.

Sunday, Mar. 3
Popular Music: Senior Showcase

The USC Thornton Popular Music program returns to the iconic El Rey Theatre for the annual Senior Showcase.

Thursday, Mar. 7 – Saturday, Mar. 9
22nd Annual Pop Conference

USC Thornton will host the Pop Conference, the world’s leading three-day gathering of music writers and scholars. This year’s theme looks at legacies, collections and archives.

Photo collage of music students performing.

Thursday, Mar. 21
USC Thornton Studio Guitar Program Showcase

Students in the USC Thornton Studio Guitar program perform in small ensembles.

Tuesday, Apr. 2
USC Percussion Group

Joseph Pereira leads the USC Percussion Group in an evening of contemporary percussion works.

Thursday, Apr. 18
Production Technology Showcase

The Music Technology program showcases student works.

Wednesday, Jun. 5 – Saturday, Jun. 8
Association for Popular Music Education National Conference

The Association for Popular Music Education (APME) National Conference explores teaching, learning, researching, creating and performing in popular music. The conference welcomes people with interests in higher education, elementary and secondary schools, researchers, industry professionals and performers. The Student LIVE Festival will feature the talents of USC Thornton undergraduates.


Friday, Mar. 1 & Saturday, Mar. 2
USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia

USC Thornton’s early music ensemble, the Baroque Sinfonia, presents an evening of music from Guatemala, Mexico and California, led by faculty members Adam Knight Gilbert and Jason Yoshida. Joined by vocalist David Morales and the ensemble Son Tios, the Baroque Sinfonia will perform music of Rafael Antonio Castellanos and the Missions of California as well as songs in Mexico’s son jarocho tradition.

Saturday, Apr. 13
USC Collegium Musicum

The USC Collegium Musicum presents “Silver and Gold: Music for the Medici Popes,” led by faculty member Adam Knight Gilbert. The program features music composed and performed for the Medici Popes Leo X from 1513-1610, including Henricus Isaac’s mysterious Missa Argentum et aurum.

Friday, Apr. 26
USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia

USC Thornton’s early music ensemble, the Baroque Sinfonia, presents “Master of the High (and Low) Baroque,” led by faculty members Adam Knight Gilbert and Jason Yoshida. The program features High Baroque masters Telemann, Bach and Handel alongside street songs, broadside ballads and selections from John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera.

Photo of a choir dressed in concert black performing indoors.
The USC Thornton Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir perform together in Newman Recital Hall. (Photo by Willow Cai)


Friday, Apr. 5
USC Thornton Concert Choir

The USC Thornton Concert Choir presents Pacifica, an evening of choral music. 

Sunday, Apr. 7
USC Thornton Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir

The USC Thornton Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir present a program of choral music.

Saturday, Apr. 13
University Chorus

The University Chorus, an ensemble of USC students, alumni, staff and faculty, presents a choral music program in St. Vincent de Paul Church.

Wednesday, Apr. 17
USC Thornton Chamber Singers

The USC Thornton Chamber Singers present an evening concert led by Tram Sparks, chair of the Choral and Sacred Music department. The concert will also feature the USC Gospel Choir led by Marcus Desir.


Friday, Feb. 2
Opera Scenes

The singing actors of the USC Thornton Opera program present an evening of opera scenes under the direction of music director Brent McMunn and resident stage director Ken Cazan.

Thursday, Apr. 18 – Apr. 21
La Passion de Simone and The Juniper Tree

The USC Thornton Opera and the USC Thornton Symphony present a double bill of two one-act operas. Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone is a meditative journey in 15 stations exploring the life-work of French philosopher Simone Weil. The Juniper Tree is based on the Grimm Brothers’ tale of the same name with composers Philip Glass and Robert Moran setting alternating scenes.

Photo of a French horn teacher instructing two students.
Renowned horn player Frøydis Ree Wekre leads a masterclass at USC Thornton. (Photo by Willow Cai)


Monday, Jan. 22
Jazz Vocalist Gretchen Parlato

Jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato presents a masterclass with Thornton’s Jazz Studies and Studio Guitar departments. The celebrated singer and Los Angeles native has performed and recorded with musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller and Lionel Loueke.

Wednesday, Jan. 24
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers, one of the world’s most esteemed violinists, leads a masterclass.

Wednesday, Feb. 7
Violinist Glenn Dicterow

Strings faculty member Glenn Dicterow is a former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra who holds the Jascha Heifetz Chair in Violin at USC Thornton. He will lead the students of the Strings department in a masterclass focusing on orchestral excerpts and auditions.

Monday, Apr. 22 and Tuesday, Apr. 23 
Guitarist Pepe Romero

Pepe Romero, the legendary guitarist and adjunct professor in the USC Thornton Classical Guitar program, who has been invited to play at the White House and the Vatican for Pope John Paul II, will present a masterclass.

TAGS: Choral and Sacred Music, Classical Guitar, Composition, Early Music Performance, Jazz Studies, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, Keyboard Studies, Popular Music, Strings, Studio Guitar, Vocal Arts and Opera, Winds and Percussion,

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