USC Thornton Faculty and Alumni Celebrated with Grammy Nominations
By Evan Calbi, Deanna Gasparyan & Sean David Christensen
The nominations come from across the school’s departments and include several first-time nominees.
Alumni and faculty from the USC Thornton School of Music received over 20 nominations for the 66th Grammy Awards, announced Friday, Nov. 10. The accolades come from across the school’s departments and feature several first-time nominees.
Our list of highlights includes arts leaders, composers, performers, members of jazz and orchestral ensembles as well as music industry professionals representing nominated artists and featured in nominated works. Check back as the list will grow in days to come.
The ceremony will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2024 at Downtown L.A.’s Crypto.com Arena.
Thornton performers, arts leaders and composers received their first nominations this year. USC Thornton faculty member Seth Parker Woods was nominated in the Classical Instrumental Solo category for “Difficult Grace.” Additionally, his album is included in Elaine Martone’s nomination for Producer of the Year, Classical. Celebrated choral group Tonality, founded by Alexander Lloyd Blake (DMA ‘19), was nominated in the category of New Age, Ambient or Chant Album for “So She Howls” by Carla Patullo featuring Tonality and the Scorchio Quartet. Leo Birenberg (GCRT ‘11) received his first nomination in the category of Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media as co-composer for “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”
Leading the Field
Music Industry alum Keaton Smith (’16), general manager of Top Dawg Entertainment, represents SZA who leads the field with nine nominations, including for song, record and album of the year.
The Recording Academy added three new categories for the 2024 Grammys: African Music Performance, Alternative Jazz Album and Pop Dance Recording, and Louis Cole (‘09) received his second nomination in Alternative Jazz Album for “Quality Over Opinion.”
LIST OF USC THORNTON NOMINEES
We strive to include all nominated students, faculty, staff, alumni and former students in our write-up. If you or someone you know from the Thornton community should be mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we might add to our list of nominees.
ACAPELLA & CHORAL MUSIC
Celebrated acapella group Pentatonix, founded by alums Ben Bram (’10) and Scott Hoying, received their fifth nomination. Tonality, founded by alum Alexander Lloyd Blake (DMA ’19), received their first nomination. The album Rough Magic by vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth earned two nominations, featuring five works from alum Peter S. Shin (MM ‘17), while the album Carols After a Plague by The Crossing, which was nominated for Best Choral Performance, features a composition by Nina Shekhar (MM ’20).
- Traditional Pop Vocal Album
“Holidays Around the World” – Pentatonix
- New Age, Ambient or Chant Album
“So She Howls” – Carla Patullo Featuring Tonality and the Scorchio Quartet
- Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
“Rough Magic” — Roomful of Teeth, featuring five works from Composition alum Peter S. Shin (MM ‘17)
- Best Choral Performance
“Carols After a Plague” — The Crossing, featuring “Y-Mas” by Composition alum Nina Shekhar (MM ‘20)
CLASSICAL & ORCHESTRAL MUSIC
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, which includes a significant number of faculty and alumni, received three nominations. Faculty member Seth Parker Woods received his first nomination, and alum Alexander Lipay (MM ‘07) received his sixth nomination.
- Classical Instrumental Solo
“Difficult Grace” – Seth Parker Woods
- Engineered Album, Classical
“Fandango” — Alexander Lipay (MM ‘07) & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers, Gustavo Castillo & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
- Orchestral Performance
“Adès: Dante” — Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
- Contemporary Classical Composition
“Adès: Dante” — Thomas Adès, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
- Producer Of The Year, Classical
Elaine Martone (“Difficult Grace,” Seth Parker Woods)
Thornton was well represented in jazz categories. Billy Childs (‘79), Louis Cole (‘09), Sara Gazarek (’04), Lionel Loueke (GCRT ’03) and Gretchen Parlato (GCRT ’03) were nominated along with faculty members Vince Mendoza, Luciana Souza and recently retired faculty member Russell Ferrante.
- Jazz Performance
“Vulnerable (Live)” – Adam Blackstone Featuring The Baylor Project & Russell Ferrante
- Jazz Vocal Album
“Lean In” — Gretchen Parlato (GCRT ’03) & Lionel Loueke (GCRT ’03)
- Jazz Instrumental Album
“The Winds of Change” — Billy Childs (‘09)
- Large Jazz Ensemble Album
“Olympians” — Vince Mendoza (MM ’85) & Metropole Orkest
- Latin Jazz Album
“Cometa” — Luciana Souza & Trio Corrente
- Alternative Jazz Album
“Quality Over Opinion” — Louis Cole (‘09)
- Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals
“In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” — Erin Bentlage, Jacob Collier, Sara Gazarek (’04), Johnaye Kendrick & Amanda Taylor, arrangers (säje Featuring Jacob Collier)
FILM, TELEVISION & VIDEO GAMES
Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08) received multiple nominations, even competing against himself in the category of Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (Includes Film and Television). Composer Bear McCreary (’02) received two nominations, Austin Wintory (’07) was nominated for the third time, and Leo Birenberg (GCRT ’11) received his first nomination. The film “I Am Everything” — Little Richard, in which USC Thornton Dean Jason King appears as a featured speaker, was nominated in the category of Best Music Film.
- Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — Music From and Inspired by” — Various Artists (Ludwig Göransson, GCRT ’08)
“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” — Weird Al Yankovic (Leo Birenberg, GCRT ’11)
- Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (Includes Film and Television)
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” — Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08), composer
“Oppenheimer” — Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08), composer
- Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media
“God of War Ragnarök” — Bear McCreary (BM ’02), composer
“Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical” — Jess Serro, Tripod & Austin Wintory (’07), composers
- Song Written for Visual Media
“Lift Me Up” [From “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — Music From and Inspired by”] — Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08), Robyn Fenty & Temilade Openiyi, songwriters (Rihanna)
- Immersive Audio Album
“God of War Ragnarök (Original Soundtrack)” — Eric Schilling, immersive mix engineer; Michael Romanowski, immersive mastering engineer; Kellogg Boynton, Peter Scaturro & Herbert Waltl, immersive producers (Bear McCreary ’02)
- Instrumental Composition
“Can You Hear the Music” — Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08), composer
- Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella
“Can You Hear the Music” — Ludwig Göransson (GCRT ’08), composer
- Best Music Film“I Am Everything” — Little Richard, in which USC Thornton Dean Jason King appeared as a featured speaker. (Lisa Cortés, video director; Caryn Capotosto, Lisa Cortés, Robert Friedman & Liz Yale Marsh, video producers)
Artwork by Sean David Christensen with Mingmei Li, student at the USC Roski School of Art and Design.
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