USC Thornton Symphony

Artistic Leader Carl St. Clair raises his left hand and tilts his right hand in this picture with conducting the Thornton Symphony onstage.
Six USC Thornton students are in this close-up view of the Thornton Symphony strings section.

The USC Thornton Symphony is one of the premier ensembles of the USC Thornton School of Music. Led by Carl St.Clair, the artistic leader of the Thornton Orchestras, and resident conductor Sharon Lavery, the symphony has worked with some of the world’s greatest conductors, composers and musicians including Henryk Górecki, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Conlon, John Williams and Joan Tower.

Since its inception in the early 1900s, the USC Thornton Symphony has been a visible artistic presence in the Los Angeles music community. Collaborations with major figures in the field of music from Bruno Walter and Leopold Stokowski to Witold Lutosławski have long defined the symphony as one with tremendous range and ability. After Górecki led the ensemble in the West Coast premiere of his third symphony in 1997, he claimed it to be the best musical ensemble with which he had personally worked.

The USC Thornton Symphony regularly collaborates with the USC Thornton Opera program and each year presents its New Music for Orchestra concert featuring orchestral works by Thornton student-composers. The annual event has premiered more than 125 compositions over the past 25 years, often leading to commissions and professional performances by nationally renowned orchestras.