USC Thornton alumni and faculty win at 2022 GRAMMY Awards

By Evan Calbi

Alum Carlos Rafael Rivera was a winner at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards while alumni Tehillah Alphonso and Alexander Lloyd Blake attended the ceremony as part of Alphonso’s first nomination. (Photos: Mindy Small, Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

At the Grammy Awards 2022, faculty member Vince Mendoza and alumni Grant Gershon, Robert Istad and Carlos Rafael Rivera are among those who won.

USC Thornton artists, including both faculty and alumni, won in multiple categories for the 64th GRAMMY Awards, which took place on Sunday, April 3. After the ceremony was delayed as a result of the Omicron variant, the show moved to Las Vegas for the first time.

The winners

Thornton Jazz Studies Department faculty member Vince Mendoza won in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for To The Edge Of Longing (Edit Version) with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Julia Bullock.

Alum Carlos Rafael Rivera (MM ‘04, DMA ‘10) was a co-winner in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for The Queen’s Gambit, along with the score for Soul.

Thornton Screen Scoring program faculty member Lolita Ritmanis won Best Classical Compendium for “Women Warriors – The Voices of Change,” which she produced with Mark Mattson and Amy Andersson.

Multiple alumni and faculty were included in the win for Best Choral Performance for Mahler: Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of A Thousand,” conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale. A few of the many Thornton artists involved include Grant Gershon (BM ‘85), artistic director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Robert Istad (DMA ’06), director of the Pacific Chorale.

The United States Army Field Band, featuring many alumni of USC Thornton including J.G. Miller (DMA ’13), Kevin Pick (MM ’01) and Chris O’Brien (GCRT ’20), won for Best Immersive Audio Album for Soundtrack of the American Soldier. This award, part of the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thornton Jazz Studies alumnus Jake Silverman (DMA ’19) won in the category of Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for Meta Knight’s Revenge (From Kirby Superstar,) which he arranged with Charlie Rosen.

Non-degreed alum Taylor Eigsti won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Tree Falls.

In addition to these wins, Thornton Music Industry program faculty member Andrae Alexander was one of the songwriters for Jon Batiste’s We Are, which won Album of The Year.

Celebrating the Nominees

Photo of Vince Mendoza conducting

Faculty member Vince Mendoza won in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. (Photo courtesy of USC Thornton.)

Congratulations to alumni and faculty from across the school who were nominated.

Two recent alumni, Tehillah Alphonso (BM ‘20) and Mak Grgić (MM ’12, DMA ’16, GCRT ‘20), received their first nominations. Alphonso, who graduated from the Thornton Popular Music program, was nominated for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “A Change Is Gonna Come,” performed by Tonality, the celebrated choral ensemble founded by alum Alexander Lloyd Blake (DMA ‘19). Classical guitarist Grgić, who earned three degrees at Thornton, was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for Mak|Bach.

Thornton’s Classical Guitar program was also included in a nomination for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the award-winning ensemble founded at USC Thornton that features current Classical Guitar faculty members Bill Kanengiser and Scott Tennant as well as alumni John Dearman (MM ’83) and Matt Greif (MM ’92). The ensemble was nominated as part of Best Choral Performance for “The Singing Guitar,” conducted by Craig Hella Johnson.

A highlight of the many nominations for USC Thornton alumni and faculty also includes alum Michael Tilson Thomas (MM ‘76), who was nominated for Best Classical Compendium for Berg: Violin Concerto; Seven Early Songs and Three Pieces for Orchestra.

Alum Gretchen Parlato (GCRT ‘03) was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Flor. The Yellowjackets, the jazz supergroup featuring faculty members Bob Mintzer, Russell Ferrante and Will Kennedy, was nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Jackets XL, featuring the WDR Big Band.

Screen scoring alum Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ‘08) was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Vol. 2 (Chapters 13-16).

Jazz Studies faculty member Vince Mendoza received a second nomination for Best Instrumental Composition for Concerto for Orchestra: Finale with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, featuring Antonio Sánchez and Derrick Hodge.

Agave Baroque, the string chamber music group featuring Thornton alumni Kevin Cooper (DMA ‘06) and William Skeen (MM ‘01) in collaboration with countertenor Reginald Mobley, received a nomination for Best Classical Compendium for the album American Originals: A New World, A New Canon

Music Industry alum Leon McQuay III (BS ’16) was one of the songwriters for H.E.R.’s Back of My Mind, which was nominated for Album of The Year.

Other Notable Nominations

Music Industry faculty represent two artists who were nominated. Faculty member Loren Medina, founder of Guerrera Marketing & PR Inc., represents client Kali Uchis, who earned a nomination for Best Musica Urbana Album, and faculty member Jonathan Azu, founder of management firm Culture Collective, represents client Cory Henry, who earned a nomination for Best Progressive R&B Album.

Other notable nominations include a Best New Artist nomination for Saweetie, or Diamonté Harper, who graduated from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 

TAGS: Choral and Sacred Music, Classical Division, Classical Guitar, Classical Performance and Composition, Composition, Contemporary Music Division, Early Music Performance, Jazz Studies, Keyboard Studies, Music Industry, Music Technology, Popular Music, Screen Scoring, Strings, Winds and Percussion,

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