USC Thornton offers classical music on campus

The city of Los Angeles is not only a hub for film and television, but also contains a vast classical music scene. Though the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl are within close proximity to campus, some of the most satisfying performances can be found right at USC.

The Thornton School of Music ranks among the top 1 percent of music schools in the United States, and it lives up to these statistics. Thornton regularly produces professional-quality performances and attracts internationally respected artists for master classes and lectures. All Thornton events are free with a valid USC student ID, including the exciting classical performances the school will give this fall.

Thornton Symphony opens the Fall 2015 season on Sept. 11 with an ode to Russian composers. Principal conductor Carl St.Clair conducts the overture to Mikhail Glinka’s rarely heard opera Ruslan and Ludmilla, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 featuring renowned pianist Daniel Pollack, professor of Keyboard Studies. The evening concludes with Mussorgsky’s Suite Pictures at an Exhibition.

On Sept. 25, Thornton Symphony performs under the baton of Sharon Lavery in an evening that ranges from 19th-century German romanticism to mid-20th-century jazz. The program features Richard Strauss’s tone-poem Don Juan and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and ends with Gershwin’s jazz-infused An American in Paris. All Thornton Symphony events are performed in Bovard Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

Though momentous, Thornton Symphony isn’t the only orchestral ensemble on campus; USC Thornton Edge, a collaboration that solely focuses on classical music composed in the modern era, also opens their season under director Donald Crockett in a program featuring Mark Anthony Turnage’s Kai for cello and ensemble, and Oliver Knussen’s Ophelia Dances. Thornton Edge events are held in Alfred Newman Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.

As part of the Visions and Voices performance series, Thornton students will perform in “Music and Genocide: A Concert,” commemorating music that has, according to the event details, “resounded for social change in conflicts around the globe.” The concert will be held in Alfred Newman Recital Hall on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Though free to the public, a reservation is required and can be made online on the Visions and Voices’ website.

Also within the Visions and Voices series, a concert of songs written by composer Alan Smith, chair of Keyboard Studies and director of Keyboard Collaborative Arts, will be presented. Celebrated mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, baritone and Vocal Arts faculty member Rod Gilfry, and soprano Diana Newman will be joined by Smith at the piano in an evening of contemporary art song.      Newman, a Thornton alumna and current fellow with the Ryan Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, spoke about the set of songs she will be presenting.

“These songs are entirely about love,” Newman said. “Each song represents a different facet of love we as humans are hopefully lucky enough to experience… Romantic love, love we feel for our family, platonic love, or the love we have for our craft and inspiration.”

Newman, who collaborated with Smith many times as a student, credits much of her success to the compassionate nature of the Thornton School of Music.

“Being in a place where you are completely supported and supportive of those around you makes you a better colleague, a better performer, and gives you all the power instead of being controlled,” Newman said.

The concert will be held in Alfred Newman Recital Hall on Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. An online reservation is required.

Thornton’s Concert Orchestra will present Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Three Songs for Voice and Orchestra by Osvaldo Golijav, featuring Canadian-American soprano Katherine Giaquinto. Conducted by adjunct instructor Michael Powers, the concert will be held in Bovard Auditorium on Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. No reservation is required.


Just before Thanksgiving, USC Thornton Opera will present Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito.  Resident music director for USC Thornton Opera Brent McMunn and resident stage director Ken Cazan collaborate with students from the Vocal Arts program and the USC Thornton Symphony to produce Mozart’s final opera seria.  The opera will be performed in Bing Theater on Nov. 19-21 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 22 at 2:00 p.m.  Free tickets can be obtained with student ID at the USC Ticket Office.

This post has been updated for style and clarity.