Thornton junior inspires through classical composition

Theodore Haber, a junior majoring in compositon, has played in various youth orchestras and currently performs with Thornton Edge at the Thornton School of Music. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Andrews)

Theodore Haber, a junior majoring in composition, spends much of his time lost in a world of musical creation.

Haber’s passion for music began at a young age, starting off with a simple red guitar his father gifted him. Noticing his appreciation for music, Haber’s parents enrolled him in ukulele lessons that led him to take an interest in the violin. 

Haber, who attended a music-focused middle school in the Bay Area, was given the opportunity to attend an after-school program that allowed students to compose their own music in seventh grade. Haber continued playing the violin throughout high school but gradually honed in his focus on composition.

“I kind of view a composer as someone who’s shaping an experience for the audience sonically,” Haber said. “A composer has the role of a kind of commentator on what they’re experiencing.” 

As a composer, Haber is in charge of both writing the music and facilitating the audience’s experience through the performance to help them feel whatever it is that the music brings out of them. 

“I recently realized this: Music, for a lot of people, it’s this thing that kind of helps you almost transcend,” Haber said. “For me, the composer’s role is to … guide the listener into that experience.” 

Bradley Bascon, a friend of Haber’s and a junior majoring in violin performance, said Haber is extremely passionate about the music he creates.

“He has a love of music that is unparalleled by few here, and it seems that sometimes all he can talk about is music,” Bascon said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him talk about anything else but music.” 

Haber gained experience throughout his musical career as a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and as an active participant in the Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, which trains young composers across the country. He also showcased his talents in the summer workshop for the John Adams Young Composers Program, which cultivates students’ love of creative expression through composition. 

Haber said he is thrilled with his time at USC and thoroughly enjoys performing with the University’s new musical ensemble, Thornton Edge. He emphasized that his major classes provide him with the ability to prosper under the tradition of classical music, while also providing a strong academic footing on which students can improve. 

“USC is honestly one of the top composition programs out there,” Haber said. “In L.A. there’s a very solid kind of contemporary classical music … scene for that, and the faculty here are very much a part of that.” 

Luca Mendoza, a close friend of Haber’s and a junior majoring in composition, said Haber’s enthusiasm for composition inspires both the audience and those he collaborates with. 

“He has a constant thirst for finding different things,” Mendoza said. “We’re gonna make some music that no one else has heard before and blow people’s minds. It’s cool to have somebody else doing that.” 

When constructing any sort of creative work, Haber takes into consideration the “what, how and why” of the piece. In doing so, Haber is able to design musical products that have a narrative arc, facilitating the audience’s emotional experience. 

”USC really does a good job at helping you kind of contextualize that ‘why,’” Haber said. “I feel like the faculty here really cause you to consider what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”