World-renowned musician and USC alumnus Michael Tilson Thomas has been named a Judge Widney Professor of Music at USC. Thomas’ appointment will begin fall semester 2015 and he will serve as a mentor and a resource for USC Thornton School of Music students.
“Michael Tilson Thomas stands among USC’s most distinguished alumni, and our students will benefit tremendously from his exceptional experience and expertise,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias in a press release.
A Los Angeles native, Thomas studied piano, conducting and composing at USC under professors John Crown and Ingolf Dahl. He earned his bachelor’s degree from USC in 1967 and returned to complete a master’s in 1976. By age 19, he was music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra and worked with Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, among others.
“We are thrilled to welcome Michael Tilson Thomas back to campus,” said Robert Cutietta, dean of Thornton, in a press release. “It is so meaningful that one of our outstanding alumni has such fond memories of his time at USC that he has decided to give back and impact today’s students.”
Thomas has recorded over 120 discs and has won 11 Grammy Awards and a Peabody Award for a radio series he created. In addition to his performance and conducting, Thomas is also committed to music education. He is the founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony, an orchestral academy that supports young musicians and prepares them to be leaders in orchestras and ensembles globally.
“I have always been honored to be a part of the USC family,” said Thomas in a press release. “My teachers at USC helped to mold and guide me, and I am grateful that I may be able to continue their tradition.”