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volume 6 issue 1 Spring 2014


a community newsletter for the usc thornton school of music department of choral and sacred music


chamber singers set to journey to korea SINGING WITH ELTON JOHN & THE ROLLING STONES BA CHORAL STUDENTS MAKE NEW STRIDES Photo: Ian Evenstar

from the



eturning home after having been away for an extended period is always a challenge. You have friends and acquaintances, but are no longer a part of their social circle; places are familiar but nothing feels quite the same; you are still the same person, but you have grown through your experiences. You then realize that what has changed is not the place, but your view of it. So began my first column to the alumni and friends of the Department of Choral and Sacred Music at USC Thornton. In that same column I spoke about the pillars of leadership, and what I perceived to be the prerequisite requirements in order for the faculty and University to continue the legacy of this department, as we moved into the second decade of the twenty-first century. My friends, I am pleased and honored to share that during these past few years we have accomplished much of what we set out to do. We built and graduated our first Bachelor of Arts in Choral Music class, and, at graduation this spring, will grant BACM degrees to five of our students. We see the positive results of their hard work daily in our ensembles and in the

caliber of the students, scholars and musicians we are producing. Our BACM students took initiative in developing their own recital choir that meets weekly, receives guidance from faculty and graduate students, and performs. An increasing number of our alumni sing in the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Chanticleer, and other professional and semi-professional ensembles. Conductors, choirs, and scholars frequently visit USC, enriching our students’ experience with lectures and performances. Some of our recent guests include Joan Conlon, Helmuth Rilling, Jameson Marvin, William Belan, Albert McNeil, Rodney Eichenberger, and Josh Habermann. Working hard to build cultural bridges, we recently performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem under the baton of James Conlon, bringing together a diverse array of choral organizations: Chapman University led by USC alum Stephen Coker, Cal State Fullerton led by USC alum Rob Istad, Cal State Long Beach led by Jonathan Talberg, the New Zealand Youth Choir led by David Squire, and the Los Angeles

in this issue

ensemble activities...............................................................................................4 pillar of leadership............................................................................................. 7 supporting usc choirs.......................................................................................... 8 elton john & the rolling stones..........................................................................9 in memoriam........................................................................................................10 faculty news....................................................................................................... 11 alumni news........................................................................................................ 13 student news......................................................................................................16 ba choral students make new strides................................................................18 2

from the chair

upcoming events.................................................................................................19

Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe Children’s Chorus led by Anne Tomlinson. The USC Thornton Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Symphony, along with the Colburn Orchestra, were a part of this massive production, in which almost 400 musicians performed on stage in the Walt Disney and Segerstrom concert halls. The assembled conductors were thrilled and privileged to watch Grant Gershon, USC alumnus and music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, work with these outstanding choral forces for three rehearsals. Concerts with Helmuth Rilling, Jeffrey Kahane, Carl St. Clair, Robert Reynolds and performances at NCCO have rounded out an exceptionally busy few years. Curricular revisions have been implemented and new courses developed. The sacred music DMA has returned as an important part of our program, and over twenty DMA students are currently electing sacred music as one of their minor fields. We have added new faculty, most recently Dr. Tram Sparks, who served as associate professor of choral music at Temple University, and is now helping to develop our sacred music curriculum. Needless to say, the activity is thrilling to watch and at times difficult to manage. As we prepare this spring for concerts at the ACDA Western Division Conference and the Tenth World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, Korea, we gratefully acknowledge the continuing commitment to musical excellence exhibited by USC, Thornton, and the faculty and students. We try to lead rather than just follow, promoting continual growth as an institution

and recognizing that our department must think outside of the box. We welcome the opportunity to showcase our ensembles, but we also take our calling to prepare the next generation of choral professionals seriously, providing them with the tools necessary to be successful as both musicians and scholars. The future of our profession lies in the hands of our students. Together, our faculty has a responsibility to inspire these future leaders not just to love the music and the rehearsal process, but also to leave their egos at the door, to act as teachers and colleagues as well as conductors, and give of themselves rather than expecting something for nothing. Collectively, we can meet the challenges that will be faced in the coming decades, driven by the knowledge that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves. â–

Dr. Scheibe chairs the Choral and Sacred Music Department at USC, directs the Chamber Singers, teaches choral conducting, and supervises the graduate and undergraduate programs in choral music. from the chair


chamber singers


activ apollo m e n ’s c h o r u s

unive cho

The USC Thornton Chamber Singers at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

the USC Thornton Chamber Singers had a very successful past year

and are looking forward to the exciting months ahead. In December 2012, they backed up Barry Manilow at the LA Live Tree Lighting (broadcast on NBC). The following January, they performed Mozart’s Requiem with Helmuth Rilling and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In May 2013, members of Chamber Singers sang with The Rolling Stones on stage for two concerts at Honda Center in Anaheim and one at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. In September, Sir Elton John performed with fourteen Chamber Singers at USC and at the Emmy Awards. In November, Chamber Singers and Concert Choir joined with three Southern California university choirs, the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, the New Zealand Youth Choir, and instrumentalists from USC Thornton and the Colburn School to perform Britten’s War Requiem. James Conlon, who directs Los Angeles Opera and the Ravinia Festival (summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), conducted the concerts, which took place at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

4 ensemble activities

February 20 through 22, 2014, the Chamber Singers have been invited to perform at the 50th Anniversary American Choral Directors Association Western Division Conference at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, CA. Attendees will include students, educators, and composers from Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Twenty-three choirs will perform. The Chamber Singers will also be featured in a masterclass.

The USC Thornton Concert Choir has had a busy year and members

have been fortunate to perform at various venues throughout Southern California. In January, 2013, Concert Choir and the the USC Thornton Symphony performed Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. They sang under the direction of Carl St. Clair, who is also music director of the Pacific Symphony, and were joined on stage by Angela Brown (soprano) and Kevin

This August, the Chamber Singers will perform at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, Korea. The Symposium provides the most prestigious choral conductors and choirs with opportunities to learn from each other, explore a foreign culture, and share their musical visions with thousands of people. It occurs every three years. The International Federation for Choral Music, which sponsors the Symposium, invites only twenty-five choirs to perform, and the USC Chamber Singers along with two professional ensembles will represent the United States. –James Laff

The USC Thornton Concert Choir.

the usc thornton apollo men’s chorus and oriana women’s choir have had an active

concert choir



From left: Karsten Longhurst, Jason Saunders, and Matthew D. Nielsen, conductors of the Apollo Men’s Chorus.

The 2013-2014 school year has seen a significant increase in collaboration in both choirs. Apollo and Oriana combined for two mixed pieces in their fall concert, and will do so again in their performance in April. Other firsts include a planned collaboration between Apollo and the Trojan Men—one of USC’s acclaimed a cappella groups—and an Apollo mini-tour to share repertoire with the local community.

oriana w o m e n ’s c h o i r

rsity rus

Deas (baritone). In addition to on-campus events, Concert Choir also performs annually at the PSICA festival, most recently held in Pasadena, CA. A highlight this past year was the collaboration with the USC Chamber Singers and other local and international choirs in two performances of Britten’s War Requiem. Performances at both Segerstrom Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, under the direction of James Conlon, were unforgettable experiences for all involved.

year filled new activities. Last fall, the choirs combined for the first Apollo and Oriana day-long retreat, providing the singers time for intensive rehearsals and valuable opportunities to make new social connections. Six weeks into the fall semester, they opened USC Thornton’s choral and sacred music concert season with their combined presentation of exciting repertoire from around the world. Additionally, both ensembles performed in Thornton’s annual Winter Gala.

–Jason Saunders From left: Anna O’Connell, Yoojin Muhn, and Kym Scott, conductors of the Oriana Women’s Choir, with accompanist Clint Kimmel (center).

–Nicole Wakabayashi

Karsten Longhurst conducts the combined Apollo and Oriana choirs at a pre-concert Music at Noon performance. the usc thornton university chorus is a diverse group of singers

that includes undergraduate and graduate USC students, alumni, and community members of all ages. This year’s group spans ages 18 to 65 and has members from nine different countries.  University Chorus

requires no audition and welcomes singers with a wide range of ability levels, including some who have never sung or seen musical notation before. On May 2, 2014, the University Chorus will present “Ain’t it a Grand and Glorious Noise,” showcasing choral music by American composers. –Serena Eichhorn ensemble activities


Being in Apollo is one of the greatest experiences that I have had at USC. Even as a business administration major, I have made many friends in the music school. I feel privileged to be able to pursue my passion for music by singing in Apollo. There is nothing more exciting than going to rehearsal every Monday and Wednesday. Monday, as always, is the toughest day of the week. However, in Apollo, I always find myself smiling and enjoying every piece of music that we sing. Our current conductors are always supportive of every member of the choir. There are days where some of us don’t feel well or are stressed by our schoolwork. But, our conductors just happen to know ways to cheer us up. We are not just making music in Apollo. We share our brotherhood through the music that we sing and all the effort we put in to present our best during our concerts.” –Kevin Febryan, Senior, Business Administration

As a pre-med student studying biological sciences, singing in USC’s University Chorus is an artistic escape from my math and science-filled world. Performing with a wide range of USC students and alumni has helped me meet people outside my major and has incorporated my love of music into a weekly class. I have the utmost respect for all the performers and conductors and intend to continue singing in the University Chorus for years to come. I am truly glad I found a fun and engaging class through USC’s Thornton School of Music.” –Dana Thomas, Freshman, Pre-med


USC Choir

experience It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to connect with the fifty singers around you while feeding off of the energy from the audiences. The past two years spent with Concert Choir have provided some of my most memorable experiences at USC. Concert Choir brings together highcaliber musicians from all walks of life to share four hours a week together as we learn diverse repertoire under the direction of Dr. Grases. I will never forget performing Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The performance opportunities are phenomenal, whether at Bovard Auditorium or in Walt Disney, and the repertoire is always unexpected and enriching regardless of our musical focus.” –Evan Pensis, Sophomore, Piano Performance

6 ensemble activities

I wouldn’t trade my time in Oriana for anything. As an architecture major, choir provides a chance for me to escape into Brahms, Haydn, Britten, and beyond and to improve my understanding of them all. But most importantly, choir has provided a home for me. We work for weeks to perfect songs, but in the end we let go of the music and just sing. What a wonderful opportunity in a world full of technology, to have the chance to be free!” –Katie Amrine, Junior, Architecture

Concert Choir has provided me with the greatest ensemble experience of my life. This is my fourth year in Concert Choir and I am lucky to be able to sing under the direction of Dr. Cristian Grases. His commitment to music making and developing an organic sound from the ensemble are among the reasons why I’ve returned every year of my undergraduate education. I’ve been able to sing diverse and challenging repertoire, perform around Southern California, and be involved in a community of spirited musicians. While I am pursuing piano performance and am not a choral major, there are many musical attributes I’ve gained in choir that I’ve applied to my piano playing. Concert Choir is more than just a class; it’s a family. I have met some of my closest friends in this choir because of the wonderful community that has been created. It is an honor to make music with over fifty incredible musicians each week and for that I will always be grateful!” –Nicole Wakabayashi, Senior, Piano Performance

Photo: Ian Evenstar

Pillar of Leadership a conversation with usc choral and sacred music alumnus leo nestor

leo nestor director of choral studies director, institute of sacred music justine bayard ward professor the catholic university of america washington d.c.

continued to be opened during the six ensuing years with Rodney Eichenberger, composers Skip Lauridsen, Robert Linn, Anthony Vazanna, musicologists Pierre Tagmann and Richard Wingell, a host of professors and classmate-friends within and outside of the School of Music, two summers with Robert Shaw on campus

A story. Early on a Saturday morning I packed all of my worldly belongings into the aging but dependable Ford Galaxy my father had given me and drove down the coast from Berkeley to Los Angeles. Still vividly etched in my memory is the next Monday morning in June of 1974 when a wide-eyed fellow arrived at USC just three days after completing studies in composition. Why USC? During my senior year, two professors from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and one from USC had recommended their almæ matres for graduate study. But it was Dr. Rudy Saltzer who picked up the telephone, called Charles Hirt and said, “Charles, you must take a look at this young man.” The intense stimulation of that summer with Charles Hirt, James Vail and Thomas Sommerville, as Yevtushenko writes, “became my beginning in that coloured world in which I had not yet had my beginning.” The windows of my mind

“These years would forever change the young man who had grown up in Culver City.” and the Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. These years would forever change the young man who had grown up in Culver City. I can still inhale the fragrance of the baked wood of Widney Hall with its open windows and searing temperatures that first summer. I still hear the towering Charles Hirt bounding up the stairs two at a time from the choral offices tucked below the stairwell, then sitting in the 90° classroom with his coat on, shivering, demonstrating his power to chill the room and his students. The core of choral development, choral literature, the conducting studies, singing and playing for classmates’ recitals, the degree recitals (too many then with 4 for the DMA) and much concert-going. Revelations in Monteverdi and Schütz seminars with

mm choral music, 1975 dma choral music, 1980 university of southern california ba music composition california state university east bay

Pierre Tagmann; two summer Mahler seminars with Marius Flothuis from the Concertgebouw; orchestral studies with the legend Daniel Lewis and the sui generis, caring conductor-teacher Hans Beer; studies of Latin literature and paleography in the Department of Classics; and hundreds of evenings with classmates, often cooking dinner on our meager budgets, talking about what mattered most to us into the late hours, developing bonds of friendship, learning from each other’s strengths and particular areas of knowledge. With whom do you stay in touch? Certainly, far too few of the remarkable musicians USC formed in our day, and only occasionally, though the intent is there. William Bausano, conductor and baritone, founding member of the NCCO who has given his entire life to Miami University of Ohio; Paul French, conductor and tenor, his whole life to Southern Oregon University and the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers; Eric Nisula, conductor and early music scholar at Northern Saginaw State University. Mark Carlson was a doctoral student in composition at UCLA during my USC years; he is now a professor at UCLA and a cherished friend. I mourned the tragic early passing of Doug Lowry, beloved dean of the Eastman School, a trombonist and conductor during USC days. Paul Salamunovich, who during student days pillar of leadership


delighted in having the USC conductors come to Loyola-Marymount to witness the wonders of vocal transformation which took place in his chorus between late August and November. I remember with envy how in that first summer of advanced conducting, Joel Ethan Fried, conductor and now artistic administrator of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, could sightread the full scores of Symphony of Psalms and Elijah. Above all, James Vail, my teacher and guide for six years, gratefully called my mentor, now my beloved friend and colleague. In his solicitude, he also made certain that I came to know JoMichael Scheibe, conductor-scholar and fellow Cal State grad, whom I respect profoundly and who in his busy life still finds time to write. Probably like you, I more often Google my classmates and contemporaries from Los Angeles and Bay Area days, listen to their performances, study their scores. Thanks to a remarkably active Alumni Association, I even check on USC’s current students and read with interest of their many accomplishments.

What do you do now? I’m a happy teacher-conductorcomposer at The Catholic University of America, where I conduct the Chamber Choir (grads and undergrads), University Singers (undergrad majors) and guide the graduate programs in sacred music. We grant the MMSM and DMA with concentrations in choral music, composition and organ performance. I stay busy composing, having published principally with E.C. Schirmer, Boston (ECS Publishing) for the past twenty-five years. In recent years, I’ve begun to revise and publish the liturgical music composed during seventeen years as music director at Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and for the many university liturgies, many with orchestra and chamber ensembles, since coming home to CUA. What did USC do for you? Those remarkably happy, far less complicated, seminal years imparted both specificity and breadth, inculcated scholarly method, taught focus to a young

conductor, created a hunger never to stop growing. Girded with a student’s knowledge and a young conductor’s tools, they instilled the desire to continue honing both from the days they were imparted by caring professor-conductor-scholars. Specifically, I have come to believe in the indispensability of a universallytranslatable conducting technique free of gimmick or limiting agenda; the cultivation of musical style above all else; a reliance on the ensemble-transforming skills first learned with James Vail, honed every music-making day since; the mandate to live in singers’ bodies and to know, to love the human instrument intimately: only with this last element can one form the ensemble. Above all, to stay where I’m planted: all that is worthy in our art and craft is built up over the long term. How grateful am I for the opportunity to say thank you. ■

supporting usc choirs Suzi Digby

I was extraordinarily proud, although not surprised, when I heard that our very own USC Thornton Chamber Singers is the only collegiate US choir chosen for the World Choral Symposium in Korea in 2014. Only 25 choirs worldwide have been invited, which puts into perspective the magnitude of this honour.  For those who are not acquainted with the choral world, it is hard to get one’s head around the scale of achievement. In Great Britain alone there are 25,000 registered choirs, so to be amongst the top 25 world-wide is on a par with being chosen for the Olympics.  In a similar vein, USC Thornton Chamber Singers will be the ambassadors, not only of USC, but of the USA. They will be the showcase for our excellence, aspirations and talent. The cost of such an opportunity is considerable, given the numbers of singers involved, the distance to be travelled and the length of stay. Whilst some of this money has been raised, there is still a shortfall. To some, 8

this may seem a small amount—to us it is considerable. And we need all the support we can get. This honour and opportunity awarded to the USC Thornton Chamber Singers (superbly trained and honed by Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe) has fortified my pride in being associated with USC. We have aimed to be the best in the world, and we are heading that way. Please help us to realize this aspiration and to make possible for our talented young singers this transformational opportunity.

To learn more about giving to USC Thornton choirs, call (213) 821-5756, email, or visit

USC Thornton Choral Students Perform with Elton John

Karen Miskell

Members of the USC Chamber Singers had the distinct opportunity to sing with Sir Elton John in September 2013. The commitment began with the September Visions and Voices concert in Bovard Auditorium on USC’s campus. Sir Elton John was a surprise performer who hosted a Q & A session with students and performed songs from his new album as well as some of his greatest hits. The event featured an orchestra, brass band, and chorus all composed of USC Thornton students. Subsequently, the group of Chamber Singers and members of the band were invited for an encore performance of Sir Elton John’s new single, “Home Again,” at the 2013 Emmy Awards on September 22.


This was an especially significant occasion for USC alumnus Adam Chester. Adam, who graduated in 1985 and studied with Dr. Morten Lauridsen, is currently the “Elton Surrogate” who rehearses the band and writes some of the orchestrations for performances all over the world. This performance of Sir Elton John’s new single, “Home Again,” contained a brand new choral arrangement by Adam. In a recent interview, Adam said that returning to USC and performing his material with his idol [Elton John] was “the proudest moment” of his life.

Photo: Dietmar Quisdorf

john & Rolling tones The


In May 2013, members of the USC Thornton Chamber Singers were given the rare opportunity to perform with legendary rock band The Rolling Stones. DAVY CHINN Having the opportunity to perform with The Rolling Stones will forever stand in my mind as one of the most exhilarating choral experiences of my life. From the moment we arrived at Honda Center in Anaheim, we knew we were about to experience something truly remarkable. As we all Instagramed and Tweeted pictures of our official “Rolling Stones Backstage” wristbands, we were ushered into our box where we would anxiously await our first rehearsal with Mick, Ronnie, Keith, and Charlie. The rehearsal was

a blur of pretending to be able to hear myself, and soaking in the fact that I was standing on stage with one of the most legendary bands of all time. Before we knew it, the rehearsal was over and we were back in our box where we would remain for several hours. The audience finally began to trickle in, and The Stones took the stage. We watched nearly the entire concert, rocking out, cheering, and trying our best to “move like Jagger” before we were again escorted backstage, where we anxiously awaited

our shining moment. The band finished their last song, Mick yelled a misleading “thank you and good night,” and the stadium went black. The crowd roared on as we took the stage to kick off the encore set with the beloved classic, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The song ended, we ran off stage, and we went home floating on cloud nine. The best part was the knowledge that we still had two more shows left. It truly was a remarkable experience, and one that none of us are soon to forget. elton john & the rolling stones 9

remembering Joel Pressman nick strimple

Joel Pressman, the legendary choral director at Beverly Hills High School, passed away on November 18, 2013, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. He was 63. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from USC and served as Charles C. Hirt’s teaching assistant with the USC Chamber Singers in the early 1970s, leaving to accept a role in the Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie. He returned to Los Angeles in 1975 to assume duties as choral director and vocal music teacher at his alma mater, Beverly Hills High School. Over the years, his choirs consistently won gold medals at Heritage Festivals

around the country and served as ambassadors to Beverly Hills’ sister city, Cannes, France. An authority on the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, Joel was also noted for his direction of Broadway musicals at Beverly Hills High, in which capacity he was able to nurture the budding careers of Nicholas Cage, David Schwimmer and many others. Joel was an exemplary musician and human being who will be long remembered for his dedication, loyalty and integrity—both musical and personal—which continue to have profound impact on his students, colleagues, friends and the city of Beverly Hills.

I N MEMORIAM myron tweed (1930-2013)

rose audrey taylor (1945-2013)

Myron Tweed’s interest in music started with the accordion, an instrument he received as a gift one Christmas and continued to play through college. While studying at Mountain View Bible College, he learned to play the piano and began singing with various ensembles, giving him the opportunity to tour across Canada. After moving to Portland, Oregon, where he met his future wife, Pauline, Myron toured with the “gospel Glee Men.” He completed his DMA at USC in 1970 while working in Indiana at Bethel College. He and Pauline raised a family of four children in a household full of music. The Tweed Family Singers had ten successful tours across the US and Canada, being billed as America’s answer to the VonTrapp Family Singers. In

As an undergraduate vocal music student at USC, Rose Audrey Taylor was an active participant in the opera program. She also sang in the USC Chamber Singers under the direction of the late Dr. Charles C. Hirt, and was a member for their tour of Europe and Israel sponsored by the U.S. State Department in 1964. After graduating from USC, Rose went on to study at the Julliard School of Music and enjoyed a distinguished performing career in many European and American opera houses. She also performed and recorded with major symphony orchestras and developed a reputation for her interpretations of 20th century music. In 1985, she joined the voice faculty at University of Texas-Austin where she taught for 27 years.  Her students and friends will remember Rose for her big heart, infectious laughter and for her unfailing loyalty.

10 in memoriam

1973, Myron was asked to join the music faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, where he also became the Minister of Music at Rancho Bernardo Presbyterian Church. In 1979, he moved to First Presbyterian and built an outstanding music program, directing the New Dawn Singers, a thirty-voice ensemble, and the ninety-voice Westminster Choir.

facultynews Jo-Michael Scheibe chair Jo-Michael Scheibe continues a very active schedule of guest appearances. This past year he conducted the Virginia and North Carolina All State Choirs, presented masterclasses at Vandercook Summer Conductors Institute, and served as the Jenkins Choral Scholar at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, teaching conducting courses and choral literature. In addition, Scheibe presented sessions at the Illinois and Oregon ACDA Summer Conferences, presented concerts in Seoul, Korea with the National Chorus of Korea at the National Concert Hall, and presented a concert of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna at the Taipei National Concert Hall with the Chin-yun Choir in celebration of their 40th anniversary. He also presented at the Association of British Choral Directors in Oxford England with USC alumnus Mack Wilberg; gave workshops in Busan and Yeosu, Korea; and performed in Hong Kong with the Asian Pacific International Schools. He returned to conduct three concerts with the Master Chorale of South Florida in celebration of their 10th anniversary.

Nick Strimple associate professor Nick Strimple retired in June from Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church after 35 years of service. He also retired as Music Director of the Choral Society of Southern California, a position he held for 31 years. During his last year of concerts with both ensembles he conducted Messiah, a variety of Psalm settings for the tenth annual Los Angeles Interfaith Symposium and, for his final concert at BHPC, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass, as well as several of his own works. He conducted five concerts with the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, including a performance of Bloch’s Sacred Service in Long Beach. A new book, Liszt: A Chorus of Voices, published by Pendragon Press, features a chapter-length interview with Dr. Strimple concerning Liszt’s choral music.  He presented, with Coreen Duffy, a double-length session on Jewish music at the national ACDA National Conference in March. In April he conducted the American premiere of Swedish composer Henrik Strindberg’s “Transformation of Memory” for the USC Shoah Foundation. In June, Dr. Strimple appeared as a speaker as part of the Autry Museum exhibit “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic.” Also in June a new work, Two Flowers, was premiered by the Hollywood Master Chorale. In July he served as guest lecturer at Cal State LA

and in August conducted a gala concert honoring the great-grandson of composers Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl.

Cristian Grases assistant professor 2013 has been a very active year for Dr. Grases. In addition to his regular concert season, the Concert Choir performed Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms at Bovard Auditorium, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Disney Hall, and Britten’s War Requiem at Segerstrom and Disney Halls. Nationally, he conducted the New Mexico ACDA Youth All-State Music Festival in Las Cruces, New Mexico; was an advising composer for the “Youth Inspiring Youth” Workshop in Piedmont, California; and presented sessions at the ACDA National Convention in Dallas, Texas, and at the “Music of the Americas” Convention in Fargo, North Dakota. He prepared an extensive article on Latin American Colonial Music for the “Music of the Americas” Convention Monograph published by ACDA and successfully launched a new octavo series with Gentry Publications entitled The Choral Music of Latin America and the Caribbean. Internationally, his travels took him to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where he conducted and taught at the Israeli Seminar for Conductors of Children’s Choir; to London, Ontario, Canada where he conducted at the Amabile Boys Choir Festival; and to Tokyo, Japan where he conducted at the National Children’s Chorus Festival. He will conduct the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Honor Choir, and the Latin American Honor Choir at the 2015 ACDA National Convention in Salt Lake City. He will have his Carnegie Hall Debut in June 2014, conducting the premiere of his own composition. In 2014 he will present sessions at the ACDA Western Division Convention in Santa Barbara and at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, Korea; and will be the clinician for the Secretariat de Corals Infantils de Catalunya Conductor’s Workshop in Barcelona, Spain; and serve as clinician and adjudicator for the World Choral Games in Riga, Latvia. Donald Brinegar ADJUNCT PROFESSOR This year is Donald Brinegar’s fifth year teaching at USC and his 45th year of teaching. Brinegar is professor of music and director of choral studies at Pasadena City College (year 35), associate director and founder of the Three-Summer Master of Music in

Choral Conducting at CSULA (year 14) and Director of the Donald Brinegar Singers (year 15). He will be performing with his singers in February 2014 Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Lauridsen’s Mid-Winter Songs with the Pasadena Symphony.  This past May, Brinegar conducted the Arizona All-State Choir, gave masterclasses at Southern Oregon State University, and taught voice and conducting at the Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose.  He traveled for five days in Costa Rica with William Belan, assisting in Dr. Belan’s Fullbright research of choral music in Costa Rica.  On Wednesday afternoons, Brinegar volunteers his time to get the engineers and jetpropulsion folks at JPL/NASA to sing in a community chorus.  They have performed on ten occasions to date. Mary Mattei ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Mary Mattei has spent the last 25 years teaching voice at the collegiate level. She received her Bachelor and Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from Northern Arizona University, where she was named as one of the Outstanding Music Students in 1992. Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Mary was a member of the voice faculty at the University of Miami Frost School of Music in Coral Gables, Florida where she taught classical and musical theatre voice, Singing for the Stage, and The History of the American Musical Theatre. She also served as Assistant Musical Director and vocal coach for musicals at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. Mary has been a professional soloist and choral singer for the last 30 years and is in demand as an adjudicator and master class teacher. Suzi Digby ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Following eight months working with The Rolling Stones (providing choirs and conducting for their 50th Anniversary Tour), the past few months have been extremely busy for Digby, both as a conductor and as an educator, not to mention entrepreneur. Her seven weeks teaching at Thornton in the fall semester were fantastic. She found the calibre of the graduate students outstanding (without exception) which enabled her to share her knowledge and passion for English choral literature with pace and in depth. Dr. Strimple and Dr. Scheibe provided unfailing support and guidance. She was also very excited to work alongside Kenneth Foster on the new Arts Leadership program that will be unique nationwide. Digby’s recent engagements include faculty news 11

concerts with Voce Chamber Choir and the London Youth Choir, Messiah in Royal Albert Hall, and The Creation. Digby was recently chair of judges for the Chorister of the Year for BBC and will be judging the School Choir of the Year for BBC TV. She toured with Voce to South Korea (where she also judged the Busan Choral Competition) and traveled to Brazil, Argentina, The Philippines and Hong Kong, both for choral work and with her husband in his capacity as Deputy Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University and President of Queens’ College. Digby commissioned new choral works from 15 composers this past year. William Dehning professor emeritus William Dehning enjoyed a wonderful reunion with former members of the USC Chamber Choir at the end of June: four days, eleven hours of rehearsal and a superb performance (and a few parties).  In February he will travel to Thailand for clinical work at two universities.  For personal details, consult his blog at James Vail professor emeritus James Vail (professor, 1961-1999), has recently begun his fourth season as Choirmaster and Organist at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church. During the 2012-2013 year


12 faculty news

he conducted Haydn’s Creation and Bach’s St. John Passion, and shared a vocal and organ recital with tenor Jonathan Mack (USC alumnus and former voice faculty member). This season he will lead choir and orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Elijah (November 24) and Mozart’s Requiem (March 23)—both employing his own arrangements for reduced orchestra and organ (played by USC Choral DMA alumna Frances Nobert). The season will close with a Spring Concert (May 18) of sacred and secular solo songs, choral, and organ works. The program will feature Debussy’s charming short cantata, L’Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son) for soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, with Vail playing organ in his arrangement of the orchestral score for organ, harp and percussion. Rodney Eichenberger professor emeritus Last year Rodney Eichenberger visited Los Angeles where he worked with the students at USC as well as USC alumnus Joanna Nachef’s students at El Camino College. In February, 2013, he was a guest director at the Choral Leadership Academy in Fresno, where he worked with young choral musicians including high school students and pre-service college music education majors. He also served as a visiting professor at the University of West Virginia and was an instructor at two summer conducting workshops in Alexandria, Virginia and Cannon Beach, Oregon. He spent his spare time in Fiji and cruised down the Danube River.

Tram Sparks


San Francisco, 1979: Saturday mornings at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music were anything but low-key. As a child and a new immigrant to the U.S., I was immensely grateful for the opportunity to study in the Preparatory Division, awarded through a generous scholarship. My family did not have the financial means to enroll me. In addition to piano lessons, I was fortunate to take classes in solfège and DalcrozeEurhythmics, as well as sing in a children’s choir. I still remember Mrs. Brown, my energetic choir director, and our rehearsal of some clever pieces based on limericks! Those were my earliest experiences in choral music and the beginning of a lifelong love, not only for choral music, but also for the collaborative arts. Although I have enjoyed solo work as a pianist, it has been my work with singers, choral ensembles, violinists and chamber orchestras that has been most thrilling. The community of musicians – whether in academic settings, religious communities, or the community at large – brings richness to music-making that is incomparable. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, writes:

Morten Lauridsen distinguished professor of composition This past spring, Morten Lauridsen traveled to Europe for performances of his works and screenings of the awardwinning documentary Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen in London, Cambridge (conducted by Suzi Digby), Denmark and Wales (conducted by Paul Mealor). He was a featured composer/lecturer at the Chorus America national convention in Seattle and received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Whitman College. The Los Angeles Master Chorale sang his O Magnum Mysterium at their season opening concert in Disney Hall, conducted by Thornton alumnus Grant Gershon. Ladd Thomas professor of organ and sacred music Ladd Thomas has performed in recitals and concerts throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. He has appeared at important festivals, with numerous major orchestras, and on sound tracks for significant motion pictures. Thomas is currently professor of organ and chair of the organ department at the USC Thornton School of Music. On the first of July, 2013, he began his 54th year as organist of the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, California.

“And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility, and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular, and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence, …” (Oliver, New and Selected Poems, 1:10). I am blessed to have had wonderful mentors and teachers, beginning with my first piano teacher in Japan, and then at the San Francisco Conservatory, Temple University Boyer College, Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Gifted mentors carry a contagious passion for their craft and for teaching. I have found this to be true all over the world! A native of Vietnam, I have lived in Okinawa, San Francisco, New Haven, Sioux Center (IA), and Philadelphia, before coming to Los Angeles. Teaching is rewarding, humbling, and a great joy and responsibility. I have served on the faculties of Dordt College (1998-1999) and Temple University (1999-2009), and I am honored to work alongside distinguished artist-colleagues at USC Thornton in the Department of Choral and Sacred Music.

alumninews Samuel Barbara (DMA ’13) served as senior teaching assistant in the Department of Choral and Sacred Music and assistant conductor of the USC Thornton Chamber Singers. Before arriving in Southern California, Samuel served as the director of choirs at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon where he was awarded the “Golden C” for excellence in teaching. Under his direction, the Cleveland “A” Choir won the 5A Oregon State Choir Championships three times. Barbara was awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach in Weimar, Germany, where he also studied choral conducting and sang in the chamber choir at the Franz Liszt Music Conservatory. While singing with the Thornton Chamber Singers, Samuel performed under the baton of Helmuth Rilling, appeared on live television with Barry Manilow and sang backup with the Rolling Stones as a part of their 50 & Counting tour. Barbara is currently serving in a sabbatical replacement position at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he is overseeing choral activities during the Spring 2014 semester.

Kate Belshé (MM ’13) graduated from USC Thornton with her MM in choral music and is now living and working in Israel. Upon graduating from USC, Kate received the Choral Department Award, and was appointed to the Pi Kappa Lambda and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies. From 2012 to 2013, Kate was co-conductor of the USC Thornton University Chorus, and assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale.  Prior to working on her master’s degree at USC, Kate directed the choral program for middle- and high-school students at the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel (20082011). There she taught middle school chorus, high school chorus, and founded a new advanced chorus for 6-12 grade girls in 2010. She also taught elementary school chorus and 3rd/4th grade music from 2008-2009. Kate sings in the Gary Bertini Chamber Ensemble and the Gary Bertini Choir (both professional groups), as well as the Israeli Kibbutz Choir. She is also assistant conductor to the Meitav Vocal Ensemble at the Rosh Ha’ayin Conservatory, where she teaches voice lessons and solfege lessons. You can find more information on her website,

Alex Benestelli (MM ‘12) is organist/choirmaster at Calvary Episcopal Church, Buffalo, New York’s largest Episcopal parish. He directs the semiprofessional parish choir, the festival choir, and the high school choral scholars program, which perform regularly for the liturgies of Holy Eucharist, Choral Matins, and Evensong. This season his choirs will collaborate with the choirs of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo and Congregation Shir Shalom. Alex has also been appointed to the Bishop’s Standing Commission on Liturgy for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, and sings with the Harmonia Chamber Singers, a professional ensemble which maintains an active performance schedule in concert venues around the region.

Lauren Buckley Schaer (DMA ’12) is enjoying her new position as director of classic worship at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church. She has also been hired as adjunct faculty at Rio Hondo College, leading their Vocal Ensemble.  Lauren continues her role as artistic director of the Hollywood Master Chorale and was excited to collaborate on a project with the Los Angeles Holiday Brass Ensemble in December. Erin Colwitz (MM ’04, DMA ’07) is in her 6th year as director of choirs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  She continues to conduct the UAH Chamber and Concert Choirs, as well as teach conducting, music history, music literature and various music education courses.  Last spring, Dr. Colwitz received a grant from the UAH Humanities Center to bring composer Tarik O’Regan to town.  She conducted the premiere of a new arrangement of O’Regan’s Triptych, a setting for SATB and Wind Band, arranged by C. David Ragsdale.  She received another grant from the office of diversity at UAH to fly Mr. Kevin Kraak, a composer/organist, from Johannesburg to Huntsville in early November, 2013.  He will present various lectures and presentations to the community and university while in town.  The UAH Chamber Choir will premiere his work for chorus entitled Prayers from Africa.  Future engagements include various adjudication and clinician appearances throughout the southeast; she will also fly to Thailand (Bangkok and Chiangmai) with her husband, Dr. William Dehning, and serve as clinicians for a choral festival at a local university there.

Harold Daugherty (DMA ‘76) conducted the choir of La Canada Congregational Church in a Christmas concert on Sunday, December 15. The program featured a mixture of carols from the sixteenth century to Poulenc, to a new original carol by Christina Whitten Thomas. Joseph Klice accompanied the choir. Christopher Eanes’ (DMA ’11) most significant achievement is his newborn (seen left). He has also launched the Cincinnati Bach Festival (March 2014) and will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Cincinnati Boychoir next season. Recently, he was voted as one of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2013 ‘Forty under 40’ class for people making an impact in the city. Stephen Fuller (MM in Church Music ’70 and DMA in Choral Music ‘80) is entering his fourth year of retirement as professor emeritus of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Fuller was director of choral activities there for many years, and ended up as coordinator of graduate studies in the Music Department. Besides being adviser to all SCSU music graduate students, Fuller supervised choral students seeking a master’s degree. He remains active as a concert pianist, an organist, and sings in the Great River Chorale of St. Cloud, for which he also serves on the Board of Directors. In addition, Fuller is completing a book on the Munsinger Gardens of St. Cloud. He remains active in ACDA as well as the Society for Ethnomusicology. Rob Istad (DMA ’06) is associate professor at California State University, Fullerton where he serves as director of choral studies. He and his CSUF University Singers were featured at the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, TX and the 2012 ACDA Western Division Conference in Reno, NV. This year, Istad’s University Singers have been invited to perform for the 2013 National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference in Charleston, SC. In September 2013, Istad was featured as headline speaker for the Northern California ACDA Fall Conference. Other highlights of Istad’s alumni news 13

last year include preparing choirs for performances at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Long Beach Opera, and preparing Pacific Chorale for numerous performances with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. His work in preparing choirs for popular artists included performances with Andrea Bocelli, M83, Legend of Zelda Live, and John Williams. In the coming year, Istad is engaged to conduct the John Alexander Singers in a December performance and prepare Pacific Chorale for a number of performances with the Pacific Symphony. Istad is also the artistic director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers and Long Beach Bach Festival, currently celebrating their 40th Anniversary Season. He will conduct the 2013 SCVA Mixed Honor Choir in November. Istad serves as Repertoire and Standards chair for University and College Choirs for California ACDA, has presented at a variety of professional conferences, and conducted honor choirs throughout the country. Buddy James (DMA ‘00) recently accepted the position as the founding director of the School of Arts and Media at California State University East Bay, where he is in his 8th year as director of vocal and choral studies. The East Bay Singers, under his leadership, will perform by invitation at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology in Japan in March 2014. He recently moved to Palo Alto with his wife, daughter and newborn son, Lionel. Guy Jansen (DMA ’84) has recently been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and this August was given Life Membership of the New Zealand Choral Federation, being described in the citation as a “national treasure”. Next year he will be conducting the Festival of Male Voice Choirs of Australia in Canberra, and presenting sessions at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, Korea. To Conventions of the NZCF Association of Choral Directors he has invited, as principal conductors, Professor Jo‑Michael Scheibe, USC (2012) and another colleague from USC days, Professor Jerry Blackstone, University of Michigan (2014). As a former player, coach and referee of rugby union, Guy was delighted to be one of the conductors of the Anthem Choirs at matches of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011. And he cheerfully points out that the NZ “All Blacks” are still the No 1 team of over 80 countries that play the game.

14 alumni news

Larry Kaptein (DMA ‘84) recently retired as director of choral studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is now involved with a new university program sponsored by the Boulder Faculty Assembly called the Student-Faculty Mentor Program. This initiative teams experienced faculty members with cohorts of students in an effort to establish a sense of community and support. Larry is also working on a new-music project with the New York-based ensemble, Scholar Cantorum-onHudson and is continuing his association with Alliance Music Publications in Houston. He recently conducted and adjudicated choral events in Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas and attended ten days of rehearsals and concerts in Leipzig with the Gewandhaus Chamber Choir. Larry is in the process of establishing a music scholarship in honor of his Torrance, California junior high school orchestra director, Robert Graham, who was an influential mentor, dedicated music educator, and USC alumnus. Iris Levine is enjoying her 24th year at Cal Poly Pomona University, where she serves as department chair and conducts the Kellogg Chamber Singers. Dr. Levine is the founding artistic director of Vox Femina Los Angeles, L.A.’s premiere women’s community choir celebrating their 17th  anniversary season. Dr. Levine authored the chapter on “Working with the Women’s Community Choir” in the 2012 GIA publication: Conducting Women’s Choirs: Strategies for Success. Dr. Levine is the editor for the Iris S. Levine Treble Choral Series with Pavane Publishing. In her free time, Iris serves the American Choral Directors Association as National R&S Chair for Women’s Choruses and is frequently called upon as guest conductor throughout the country. John McIntyre (DMA ’93) was recently promoted to professor of music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Indiana), where he has been a faculty member since 2003. He is also a member of the faculty of the Rensselaer Program of Church Music and Liturgy at Saint Joseph’s College. He is active as a composer and arranger, and recently received his fifteenth consecutive annual award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra and President of the Board of the Terre Haute Children’s Choir.

Christian E. Marcoe (DMA ’05) is now in his 17th season with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He also sings frequently with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestras, and is in frequent demand as both vocal soloist and chorister in events throughout the Los Angeles musical community. Dr. Marcoe is the founder and music director of the St. Cecilia Chorale and Schola Cantorum, dedicated to the preservation of traditional Catholic music and the promotion of new sacred choral works. Under Dr. Marcoe’s leadership, the chorale regularly provides music for important liturgical events and concerts, and has also toured extensively throughout Europe presenting liturgies and concerts in major venues. In early 2013, he returned from a European Tour featuring a new opera, The Gospel According To Mary by John Adams under the direction of Gustavo Dudemel. David Means (DMA ’97) has recently accepted the position as director of choral studies at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. He has also been named music director of the Valley Symphony Chorale and is serving as organist at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg, TX.  He recently moved to the Rio Grande Valley from Austin, TX where for six years he was head choral director at the GRAMMY Award-winning Fine Arts Academy of Westwood High School and the director of music and organist at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. Means is active as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician all over the world, and has led concert tours across the United States, Europe, Asia and Mexico. In addition, Dr. Means was the first invited conductor for the Kanto Plains American High School Honors Choir Festival in Tokyo, Japan. He adjudicates regularly for choral festivals across the United States and is a recommended judge for UIL contests in Texas, and has recently been asked to conduct a choral festival in Guatemala. Joanna Medawar Nachef (DMA ’88) is recognized as the first woman conductor from the Middle East. As the director of choral activities at El Camino College, her ECC Chorale participated in the 2012 USC and Chapman University Choral Invitational. She made her fourth conducting appearance at Carnegie Hall, on April 7, 2013, with a performance of Faure’s Requiem, with choirs from the US, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. She received the 2013 DAR Americanism Medal from the National Society of the Daughters of The American

Revolution, El Redondo Chapter, for displaying the requisite qualifications of “Trustworthiness, Service, Leadership, and Patriotism as a naturalized American Citizen.” Beirut Chant, Festival of Sacred Music, invited Dr. MedawarNachef to be the guest conductor for the final December 2013 concert in Beirut, Lebanon. Yohan Partan (MM ‘12) has been actively conducting in Southern California as the choir director of Hermosa Beach Youth Music, the music director of San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus (SFVYC), and the director of music of Los Altos United Methodist Church. Recently, he has received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles for his dedication and effort  in providing music education through SFVYC in the San Fernando Valley area.  Beyond his conducting duties, Partan also teaches individual voice/guitar lessons, composes choral music, and adjudicates for the Southern California Vocal Association’s High School Honor Choir auditions.  More information on Partan can be found on his professional website, Beverly Ann Patton (DMA ’90) is currently in her 16th year at Penn State University as musical director of Penn State Opera Theatre in the School of Music and musical theatre singing specialist for the School of Theatre. In short, she sends opera singers to graduate schools and musical theatre singers to Broadway. She has conducted over 40 operas and musicals including the November ‘13 production of Poulenc’s The Dialogue of the Carmelites. She gets to use her “choral chops” in many of these shows. John Russell (DMA ‘13) was recently appointed as assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at California State University, San Bernardino. At CSUSB he conducts the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir and teaches applied voice, as well as courses in choral conducting, choral literature and music education. In addition, Dr. Russell is a current member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and made his Walt Disney Concert Hall debut in December as the tenor soloist for the LAMC’s performances of G.F. Handel’s Messiah under the direction of Grant Gershon. In September, Dr. Russell prepared singers from CSUSB for a performance with the San Bernardino Symphony, and in February he will invite more than one hundred high school

singers to the CSUSB campus for the annual High School Honor Choir. Dr. Russell also serves on the summer conducting faculty at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and the San Diego Summer Choral Festival. Royce Saltzman (DMA ’64) is director emeritus of the Oregon Bach Festival. After co-founding the Festival with Helmuth Rilling in 1970, Saltzman retired as executive director in 2007, but remains active as a member of its Board of Directors. Saltzman also serves as advisor to the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), an organization for which he served as president for eight years. In 2012 he was an official guest at the 11th China International Choral Festival, and a delegate at IFCM’s World Choral Summit in Beijing. In 2010 he was awarded Chorus America’s Distinguished Service Award. Royce is professor emeritus at the School of Music, University of Oregon. He and his wife, Phyllis, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last year with a trip to Paris and Provence with fellow USC alumnus, Dale Warland, and his wife, Ruth. Thomas Somerville (DMA ‘72) is professor emeritus of music at Occidental College, where from 19772000 he taught conducting and music literature, and directed the Occidental College Glee Club. He earned his MM in music history and his DMA in church music at USC, and was a member of the faculty of the USC Department of Choral and Church Music from 1972-77. In 2002 he returned to USC as visiting professor, where he conducted the USC Thornton Chamber Choir and tutored graduate students in conducting. Dr. Somerville was artistic director and conductor of the Los Angeles Bach Festival (founded in 1934) from 1981-2001. He was named director of music emeritus of First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, which he served from 1981-2001. From 1987-2007, Dr. Somerville was director and associate teacher of the Oregon Bach Festival Master Class in Choral/Orchestral Conducting with Helmuth Rilling. He was called out of retirement in 2012 and returned to the Oregon Bach Festival to lead the 2012 Master Class in Conducting. He and wife Virginia are now living in a retirement community in Aliso Viejo, California, where they founded the Covington Chorus for about 40 of their fellow senior citizen residents. He continues his writing and research of the Somerville Scottish ancestry. After 32 years as professor of choral and vocal music at Arizona Western College, Charles Smalley (DMA ’89) retired in May 2010. He had been the choral director but also taught

voice lessons, dictation and sight singing (all four semesters), music appreciation, and various other classes as needed. Before his time in Arizona, he taught in the San Fernando Valley area for nine years. He composed and arranged many works for his choirs over the years and made two choral tours, the first to Europe and the second to England and Scotland. He has joined his wife who retired several years ago after teaching at Arizona Western College for 25 years. He continues to teach part time and now has more free time for tennis, woodworking, and travel. In July, 2013 The Portland State Chamber Choir conducted by Dr. Ethan Sperry (MM ‘98, DMA ‘00) became the first American choir ever to win the Seghizzi International Competition for Choral Singing in Gorizia, Italy. The choir competed against 20 choirs from 19 different countries and took 15 separate awards including 5 gold medals and the grand prize. Ethan was awarded the Domenico Cieri Prize for the most artistic presentation as a conductor, and the Giuseppe Verdi Prize for the best performance of a piece in Italian (Verdi’s Pater Noster). Ethan also had five of his arrangements performed by choirs at the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, TX making him the mostperformed composer or arranger there. Christian D. Stendel (MM ’85) is currently a piano accompanist/coach at Los Angeles City College and the music director/organist/pianist at St. Martin-in-the-Field Episcopal Church in Winnetka, CA.  This past summer he worked as an accompanist for the 42nd annual conference of the International Double Reed Society in Redlands, CA performing Kathy Henkel’s “Summer’s Echo” for English Horn and Piano with Gordon Lazarus (DMA in Oboe from USC). He is also an active member of the Music Association for the California Community Colleges and the American Guild of Organists. He resides in West Hills, California. Hanan Yaqub (DMA ’88) has served since 1979 as  minister of worship and music at Trinity United Presbyterian Church of Santa Ana, California where she currently directs an outstanding program of twelve choral and instrumental ensembles and plans weekly worship services known for their broad range of styles. The 120-voice adult choir leads in worship weekly, and also presents several special concerts each year. As part of their June 2013 concert, the choir performed “The Cry of Jeremiah”, a new choral/orchestral work by Rosephanye Powell, with the composer as narrator and soloist. alumni news 15


Tammi Alderman completed her DMA coursework in Spring 2013 and is adjunct music education faculty at CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton and is head of the choral department at San Marino High School. She serves on the California ACDA Board as the Honor Choirs Chairperson. This year, Tammi will be touring Spain and Portugal with the San Marino HS Chamber Choir and conducting Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at Arrowbear Summer Music Camp. 

Jeremy S. Bakken (first year DMA) is a composer, arranger, and conductor with a passion for choral music. He holds degrees in composition, conducting, and math, and is currently enrolled in the DMA choral music program at USC. His choral works have been performed by choirs of all ages and are available from several U.S. publishers. For the third consecutive year, the University of New Mexico Concert Choir premiered a work commissioned in support of the UNM choral program and composed by Bakken. This year’s commission, “Truths for Marriage,” based on texts from the Bible, was premiered at the UNM Concert Choir’s fall concert on Sunday, October 6, 2013 in Albuquerque. The Chorister’s Guild plans to publish in 2014 Bakken’s setting of “Children of the Heavenly Father” for two-part treble accompanied by piano. More information about Bakken’s commercially published and selfpublished works available at Yejee Choi (third year DMA) serves at USC Thornton as a teaching assistant. Originally from South Korea, Choi studied English Literature at Yonsei University and composition at the Korean National University of Art. Choi received her master of music in choral conducting from University of Minnesota, where she served as assistant conductor of the Minnesota University Singers, University Women’s Chorus, and Minnesota Campus Singers. While in Minnesota, Choi participated in masterclasses and workshops led by renowned conductors such as Simon Halsey, Marin Alsop, Osmo Vänskä, and David Hill. She also appeared as a clinician for Oratorio Society of Minnesota and Angelica Cantanti Youth Choir in Minneapolis, MN. Her bachelor of music degree is from University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she studied voice, conducting, piano, and organ. 16 student news

Her conducting teachers include Jo-Michael Scheibe, Nick Strimple, Don Brinegar, Kathy Salzman Romey, and Jong-Won Park. Choi is the co-founder, assistant conductor, executive director and the composer & arranger of JW Chorale, a semi-professional summer festival chorus of 56 voices, founded in 2009 in Seoul, South Korea. She is currently the music director at Korean Presbyterian Church of North Los Angeles.

Audrey Chung (third year DMA) is from Singapore and is currently completing her DMA coursework. She graduated with a Master of Choral Music degree from the Thornton School of Music, and holds a Bachelor of Church Music with a concentration in voice from the Singapore Bible College School of Church Music. In recent years, she was a conductor of the Singapore Bible College Chorale, music director of Queenstown Baptist Church, conductor of Ang Mio Kio Secondary School and Yishun Town Secondary School Choir, and most recently co-founder of Amoris Singers in Singapore. She is recognized as one of the outstanding young conductors and educators in South East Asia. Matthew Davis (senior BA) had the immense pleasure of singing with the Bakersfield College Chamber Singers under the direction of his mentor Dr. Ron Kean before coming to USC. Under Dr. Kean’s direction, the Chamber Singers toured around the world which aided in the development of Matthew’s love for ethnic and multicultural music. Once arriving at USC, Matthew threw himself into his studies, both academic and musical. Since his arrival at USC he has sung with the Apollo Men’s Chorus, USC Thornton Recital Choir, USC Concert Choir, and currently sings with the USC Chamber Singers. In his role as President of the USC ACDA Student Chapter on campus, he planned decorations for the Winter Gala and secured funds for students to attend the ACDA Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara, California in February 2014. Coreen Duffy (DMA ABD) serves as lecturer in the department of vocal performance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where she teaches conducting, choral literature, and musicology.  She is

founding music director of the Second Avenue Jewish Chorale, which actively performs both sacred and secular literature throughout South Florida. Duffy serves as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives for the Florida chapter of ACDA. Bronte Ficek (senior BA) is currently pursuing a double degree in neuroscience and choral music at USC. Involvement in the USC Chamber Singers, the USC Crescendo Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and previously the USC Oriana Women’s Chorus has bound her into a love affair with singing and conducting. She still sees many other lovers, though, including her long-time friends the violin and piano, and her cognitive neuroscience lab in the USC Brain and Creativity Institute, where she does research on the brain and music. Daniel Gee (first year MM) is from Temple City, CA. He completed his undergraduate work at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA, in music composition and philosophy. He also performed frequently with the Westmont Orchestra as principle cellist and assistant conductor. Currently, he studies conducting with Don Brinegar and sings in the USC Thornton Concert Choir with Dr. Cristian Grases. In November, 2013 the Westmont Orchestra and Santa Barbara Choral Society performed a commissioned arrangement by Daniel in the annual Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Concert at First Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara. Daniel is currently working on a composition for the Westmont College Chamber Singers. Jairus Gil (freshman BA) is the second youngest of 15 siblings and is the greatgrandson of an orchestra director from Sinaloa Mexico. His parents, Martin Gil and Teresa Brambila moved from La Villa de Purificacion Jalisco, Mexico to Tacoma, Washington in the spring of 1995, a month before he was born. They lived there for 15 years until they moved to Forest Grove, Oregon, then finally Palmdale in the summer of 2011. Under the director of Mike McCullough (Director of the Sunday Night Singers and the Palmdale High School Choral Union) he was able to compete in the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen Wales in 2012 and participate in several choral activities,

some of which were at USC. Being the son of a dedicated pastor/missionary, Jairus is excited to bring inspiration to churches through music. He now sings with the Concert Choir under Dr. Grases and is an active member of the Sunday Night Singers. Nancy Holland (third year DMA) is the music director of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City, where she conducted the Fauré Requiem in October 2013. The church choir joined with singers and soloists from the USC Chamber Singers, the JPL Chorus, Pasadena Pro Musica, Donald Brinegar Singers, Metropolitan Master Chorale and the Unitarian Universalist Church Community of Santa Monica. Nancy Holland is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in Sacred and Choral Music at USC’s Thornton School of Music. This concert was her third recital, serving to fulfill the requirement for an Instrumental Conducting minor. Her November 2011 recital, Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, also with chorus and orchestra, was performed by Pasadena Pro Music. She has conducted school, church, and community choirs in California and Massachusetts, and she holds degrees from Swarthmore College, Stanford University, Middlebury College, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Royal Academy of Music. Seth Houston (DMA ABD) is visiting lecturer and director of choral activities at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI, where he conducts the university’s Concert Choir and Vocal Collective and teaches courses in choral methods, choral literature, and choral conducting. Houston also conducts the DeKalb Festival Chorus in DeKalb, IL. Houston recently conducted Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis and will conduct Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem this spring. Houston’s composition “The Wayfarer” is forthcoming with Walton Music. Houston says he misses everyone at USC, but is thrilled to be directing the choral program at Carroll. Clint Kimmel (first year MM) is from Dallas, Texas and received a BM in Church Music from Baylor University. He has served on the music staff of churches in Texas and Alabama and was director of the Baylor Religious Hour Choir where he produced their 2013 album, Light the Way, and led the group on three international tours. In 2014, he will be the

featured piano clinician at the California Baptist Convention’s annual music workshop where he will present lectures on accompanying, improvisation, and service playing. James Laff (second year MM) is assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, a master choir led by Dr. Nick Strimple that performs Jewish music. As co-conductor of the USC University Chorus, James is performing a Xhosa song and part of a Mass by Michael Haydn. James is also the tour manager for Chamber Singers. Sarah Maria Leung (junior BA), a native of Hong Kong, is currently a junior at the University of Southern California, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in choral music and history. She sings soprano in the USC Chamber Singers; at the local Chinese Evangelical Free Church, she volunteers as conductor of its Children’s Choir. She is also one of the conductors of Singchronizers (Hong Kong), a choir formed by passionate singers from her alma mater St. Paul’s Co-educational College. At SPCC, Sarah had been appointed chairlady and soprano section leader of its Senior Mixed Voice Choir, with which she had performed in the World Choir Games 2010, and various regional and local competitions and events. A devoted singer, she studies voice with Mary Mattei, and was honoured with Distinction at the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music Grade Eight Examination of Singing. She dreams to one day combine her passion in music and knowledge in history to bring hope to the underprivileged. Karsten Longhurst (second year DMA) is the assistant conductor for the USC Thornton Chamber Singers and coconductor of Apollo Men’s chorus. He was previously the USC Choral Festival Coordinator. Karsten loves teaching. At Ogden High School in Utah, he helped grow the choir program to a full-time position. His choirs consistently received high ratings at region and state festivals. Karsten earned a double degree in music education and German from Weber State University and a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Utah. As a tenor, Karsten continues to pursue his diverse interests both locally and abroad by performing, conducting, and maintaining his voice studio.

Karen Miskell (first year DMA) is a Choral Department teaching assistant. Originally from Ohio, Karen received her Bachelor of Music Education degree in 2005 from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She taught middle and high school choral music for 6 years in the Clark County School District of Las Vegas, Nevada, where she served as the both the chairperson and the accompanist for the District and All State Honor Choirs. Karen graduated in May 2013 with a Master of Choral Conducting degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ before moving to Los Angeles to begin studying at USC. Rayvon T.J. Moore (senior BA) is currently in his third year with the USC Chamber Singers and fourth year with the Donald Bringer Singers. He is also serving a second term as the vice president of USC’s ACDA Student Chapter. Earlier this year, Moore conducted the Beverly Hills High School choirs in their spring concert, sang Mozart’s Requiem with fellow Chamber Singers and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Helmuth Rilling and sang back up for the Rolling Stones. He is looking forward to performing with the Chamber Singers at the ACDA Western Division Conference in February and the World Choral Symposium in Korea in August. Moore will be giving a senior conducing recital with the Donald Brinegar Singers on March 9th at 7:00pm at USC. He is blessed beyond measure for such amazing opportunities. Yoojin Muhn (third year DMA) is an assistant conductor of the USC Concert Choir and coconductor of the USC Oriana Chorus. She is very excited to perform Nicola Porpora’s Magnificat and Francis Poulenc’s Petites Voix with the Oriana Chorus this year. She also serves as the choir director of the Shalom Church of Southern California in Torrance, CA. Anna O’Connell (second year MM) from Plainsboro, New Jersey, received the 2013 Dosogne/RendlerGeorgetown Chorale Scholarship from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) this past summer. She attended the NPM National Convention in Washington, D.C. in August, where she met with professional church musicians from throughout student news 17

the United States. Upon graduation in the spring of 2014, she hopes to lead a choral program at a Catholic high school and promote the church’s musical heritage. Troy Quinn (DMA ABD) is in his fifth year as music director of the Portsmouth Institute Orchestra and Chorus of Rhode Island. This past June, Quinn conducted the Newport Pops Orchestra in a tribute concert to Abe Lincoln, performing music from the civil war era. He has recently been invited to conduct the prestigious Berlin Sinfonietta in a public concert under the tutelage of master conducting mentor Kenneth Kiesler. Quinn continues to work extensively in the studio and pop world, singing back up for The Rolling Stones on their latest world tour and performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a concert of movie trailer music. Zanaida Robles (DMA ABD) is enjoying her second year as artistic director of the San Gabriel Valley Choral Company (SGVCC), a community chorus based in Monrovia, CA. Zanaida continues to teach vocal fundamentals at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts while cultivating her growing private voice studio in the San Gabriel Valley area. Zanaida is also thrilled to be singing with her husband this year as a roster chorister in the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Singing some of the

most cherished choral repertoire for the LA Master Chorale’s 50th anniversary concert for a packed house at Walt Disney Concert Hall this past September under Grant Gershon and Leslie Leighton, surrounded by generations of mentors, teachers, colleagues, and friends, was truly a highlight of Zanaida’s career as a choral artist. Jason Michael Saunders (second year MM) is a co-conductor of the Apollo Men’s Chorus and sings with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers. He graduated in 2011 from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. An active composer, Jason has received awards, commissions, and performances from a variety of choral ensembles across the nation. Most recently, he was selected as one of three finalists for the Young New Yorkers Chorus 10th Annual Competition for Young Composers. Jason and the other two finalists will be commissioned to write a new work for the Young New Yorkers Chorus, which will be premiered in New York City in May 2014. Saunders currently studies composition at USC with Morten Lauridsen.

performances with The Rolling Stones last May. In August, she visited Australia where she was a guest adjudicator at the Queensland Catholic Schools and Colleges Music Festival in Brisbane and gave choral workshops in Canberra. Kym continues to promote Australian choral repertoire in the US and internationally. She recently gave a lecture at USC on the choral music of Australia and New Zealand, and looks forward to traveling to Seoul, South Korea in August to present a seminar on Australian choral music at the World Choral Symposium. Tatiana Taylor (second year DMA) holds a BA in piano performance from Rhodes College and received her MM in choral conducting from the University of Oklahoma where she directed the University Chorus, University Choir and the Women’s Chorus. Tatiana sings with the USC Chamber Singers and currently co-conducts the USC Thornton University Chorus.

Kym Scott (third year DMA) is a co-conductor and teaching assistant for the Oriana Women’s Choir. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct members of the USC Thornton Chamber Singers in their

Bachelor of Arts in Choral Music Students Make New Strides daniel kim Undergraduate choral students launched an exciting new conducting opportunity in Spring 2013: the BA Choral Lab. This new group, which meets weekly, was started to provide more podium time for undergraduate conducting students and allow them to learn from faculty members and graduate students in a supportive environment. After a successful spring semester,the BA Choral Lab grew and presented its inaugural concert in November 2013, allowing several undergraduate students to conduct in front of an audience for the first time. According to Rayvon Moore, “The BA Choral Lab has been an awesome opportunity for us young conductors to learn from our colleagues and gain more experience and confidence outside of the classroom. The best 18 student news

Senior BA Rayvon Moore rehearses the BA Choral Lab, consisting of volunteer undergraduate and graduate singers. part is that it is not something that is required but it was born out of the love that we all share for the choral art and the desire to do more.” Sarah Leung has had a similar experience. “It’s really wonderful to have supportive friends who share the same passion as you. The BA Choral

Lab has provided us with a valuable opportunity, not only to polish our skills and gain experience, but for everyone in the Choral Department— BAs, our grad student advisers and faculty—to help each other and grow together. I’m truly grateful to be part of it.”

Keep Us Up to Date

Tell USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music about your latest activities. We would like to include you in next year’s newsletter. Send your news to Litta Cecchi, Administrative Coordinator for Choral and Sacred Music: Department of Choral and Sacred Music USC Thornton School of Music 840 West 34th Street, MUS 416 Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851

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To demonstrate your support for the Department of Choral and Sacred Music at USC Thornton, make your gift today by returning the enclosed envelope with your donation. You can also make your gift quickly and easily with a credit card by calling the USC Thornton Advancement office at (213) 740-6474, or by visiting and designating your gift to the USC Thornton Department of Choral and Sacred Music. USC Thornton relies on the support of people like you. Your generosity directly impacts the educational experience of our students. Thank you for your support.

upcoming events

USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music Friday, February 21 Chamber Singers American Choral Director’s Association Western Division Conference Performance Granada Theater, Santa Barbara, CA; 8:45 p.m. Saturday, March 1 High School Chamber Choir Invitational Festival Alfred Newman Recital Hall, 10:00 a.m. Saturday, March 1 Community College Choir Invitational Festival Alfred Newman Recital Hall, 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 Apollo Men’s Chorus and Oriana Women’s Chorus Music at Noon United University Church, USC, 12:00 p.m. Free Friday, March 28 Chamber Singers and Concert Choir St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish, Pacific Palisades, CA 7:30 p.m.


Friday, April 4 Apollo Men’s Chorus and Oriana Women’s Chorus Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC, 8.00 p.m. Free

Jason Sabino, BA Mark Suennen, BA Kate Belshé, MM Gabriel Fanelli, MM Jong-Sup Kwak, MM Krysta Sorensen, MM Jenny Wong, MM

Wednesday, April 9 Concert Choir Music at Noon United University Church, USC, 12:00 p.m. Free

To the 2013 Choral and Sacred Music Graduates Samuel Barbara, DMA Jeffrey Brookey, DMA Pamela Compton, DMA Christopher Haygood, DMA John Russell, DMA Shawna Stewart, DMA

Acknowledgements Department of Choral and Sacred Music Faculty Jo-Michael Scheibe, DMA, Chair Nick Strimple, DMA Cristian Grases, DMA Morten Lauridsen, DMA, Distinguished Professor of Composition Ladd Thomas, DMA, Chair of Organ Studies Donald Brinegar, Choral Conducting and Voice Mary Mattei, Choral Voice Tram Sparks, DMA, Sacred Music Lisa Sylvester, Diction William Dehning, DMA, Professor Emeritus James Vail, DMA, Professor Emeritus Kym Scott, Editor Layout and design by Jason Saunders James Laff and Mary Mattei, Copy Editors

Thursday, April 10 Chamber Singers and Concert Choir Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC, 7:30 p.m. Free Wednesday, April 30 Concert Choir conducted by BA Choral Students Music at Noon United University Church, USC, 12:00 p.m. Free Friday, May 2 University Chorus Bovard Auditorium, 8:00 p.m. Free Thursday, August 7 Chamber Singers World Choral Symposium performance National Theater of Korea, Seoul, South Korea 7:00 p.m. 19

Choral News Spring 2014  
Choral News Spring 2014  

A community newsletter for the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Department of Choral and Sacred Music