USC Thornton Summer Rewind

USC Thornton Summer Rewind

Classes have ended, finals are over, and the Class of 2020 has completed their USC Thornton journey. It’s officially summer at Thornton, and there’s no better time to look back at the 2019-2020 school year and celebrate some of our favorite moments. It’s been a year for the memory books—from the inauguration of our new university president, to world-class performances, to watching students, faculty, and alumni respond to the shift to remote learning with resiliency and creativity—there is no shortage of incredible moments to remember. Join us each week as we celebrate another collection of stories from the 2019-2020 school year.


Week 1: The Thornton community | Week 2: Faculty opening doors | Week 3: It all starts here | Week 4: Award-winning artists | Week 5: Creative careers | Week 6: Collaboration for all | Week 7: Fresh releases

Week 1: the Thornton community

The 2019-2020 school year kicked off in style with the inauguration of President Folt, and ended under unprecedented circumstances as students and faculty adapted to remote learning. In its usual fashion, the USC Thornton community always rose to the occasion. These stories remind us how Thornton faculty, students and alumni show up for each other and our wider USC community.

dancers on stage

Artists to the Stage
USC gave an enthusiastic welcome to Carol L. Folt as she was formally inaugurated as the university’s 12th president on Sept. 20, 2019. Student performers from USC Thornton provided the soundtrack for the week’s festivities, including an Arts Showcase, a Faculty Research Symposium and the Inauguration Ceremony.

USC Thornton Presents: Live! From Somewhere
As classes became remote, and venues and concert halls closed, USC Thornton launched Live! From Somewhere, a video series highlighting virtual performances by students, faculty and alumni. Artists from across the school have now graced our virtual stage with stunning performances for the community to enjoy from home.

pop music faculty

Silver Linings
Looking for a way to uplift their students while conducting classes and making music from home, Popular Music program Director Patrice Rushen and four of her faculty members had a brilliant idea. The five collaborated on a virtual performance of the late Bill Withers’ “Kissing My Love,” and the infectious rendition was a hit.

Faculty Opening Doors

USC Thornton faculty are a bridge to transformational opportunities for our students. As educators and music professionals, they bring their knowledge and networks into the classroom, and create educational experiences that can launch careers. Read about how our faculty make it happen in these stories from the 2019-2020 school year.

guitarist Adam Hawley

Back and Forth
When Fender was developing the curriculum for their  online music instruction platform, Fender Play, they needed guidance from expert music instructors. They turned to Nick Stoubis, chair of the Studio Guitar program, who brought a number of Thornton students and alumni on board the project, creating learning and career opportunities for many.

conductor and composer Eric Whitacre

One Degree of Separation
When classes transitioned to online instruction in March, faculty were tasked with creating alternatives to in-person lessons and performances. Within days, faculty had compiled an impressive lineup of artists from their vast networks to conduct virtual masterclasses. Without the obstacle of geographical distance, a world of top-tier artists were suddenly at students’ finger tips—and on their screens.

Paul Jackson Jr. in a lesson

Lessons in Real Time
Celebrated studio guitarist and faculty member Paul Jackson Jr. brought his work into the classroom, teaching students the music he plays for the Emmy Awards, and even inviting a group of students to a pre-recording session for the award show. The hands-on lessons allowed students to get comfortable in a studio setting and refine the skills they’ll use in studio work in their own careers.

Carl St.Clair

Every Note has a Purpose
For over 20 years, celebrated music director of the Pacific Symphony, Carl St.Clair, has had a relationship with USC Thornton. Since the 2005-06 season, he has been principal conductor of the USC Thornton orchestras and a faculty lecturer in conducting. Week after week, he has brought the best out of his students and led the symphony in amazing performances.


Check back for more highlights from the school year! Coming up next week: read about how students start shaping their careers, and even launch career-making projects, from the halls of Thornton.