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FROM THE CHAIR...................................................3 ENSEMBLE ACTIVITIES............................................ 4 PILLAR OF LEADERSHIP.......................................... 6 LECTURE SERIES.....................................................7 GIVING BACK........................................................ 9 IN MEMORIAM...................................................... 9 YEAR IN REVIEW................................................... 10 FACULTY NEWS.................................................... 13 ALUMNI NEWS..................................................... 14 STUDENT NEWS................................................... 16 UPCOMING EVENTS.............................................. 19

from the




I write this column each year, I am overwhelmed by the contributions and successes of so many of our students, faculty, and alumni. This past year has been no different. After a thirty-year absence, the Concert Choir conducted by Cristian Grases, performed a diverse program at the Western Region Conference of the American Choral Directors Association in Pasadena. Nick Strimple designed the conference’s opening convocation that took place at Pasadena’s First Presbyterian Church. In addition, the University Choir from California State University Fullerton, conducted by Rob Istad (DMA ’06, Choral Music) and the LA Choral Lab under the direction of Michael Alfera (BA ‘09) were invited to perform. Also featured were workshops and sessions led by Nick Strimple, Tram Sparks and Cristian Grases. The entire event was a celebration of the USC choral tradition. While we continue to celebrate our traditions, we also look to the future. We are currently searching for an additional full-time faculty member for the sacred music and conducting areas. Our BA in Choral Music was used as the model for the Thornton School’s Classical Division redesign. Starting in the fall of 2019, the BA will become a BM in Choral Music. The new curriculum will allow students the opportunity to take up to sixteen credits in courses outside of the traditional classical division. I would invite you to look to our departmental page: music.usc.edu/departments/choral/ and see a short three-minute video about some of our BACM Choral Major alumni, and their thoughts about their USC Thornton experiences. Traditional performances this past year included the USC Choral Artists in a Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the USC Thornton Symphony and an additional performance with the Pacific Symphony, both under the leadership of Maestro Carl St. Clair. USC Thornton and the Concert Choir also hosted the PSICA Choral Festival which many of our alumni will remember from their participation in our ensembles. One of the most moving and engaging concerts given in my tenure at USC was the Chamber Singers performance of Considering Matthew Shepard under the baton of Craig Hella Johnson. Supported by a major grant from the Provost’s Visions and Voices, and with additional support from the Thornton School, we worked almost a full seven months in preparation. The students in the ensemble sang almost all of the solos, trios, and small ensembles, memorizing the hour and fiftyminute composition, staging, and more importantly, participated in the discussions surrounding the subject matter of hate versus love, with Craig revealing insight into his composition about the murder of Matthew Shepard. Craig was masterful in his rehearsals with the singers and student instrumentalists. As often occurs in the professional world of choral music, our performance of Considering Matthew Shepard and the two Beethoven

performances all occurred in a three-week period. The week after graduation, the Chamber Singers began a thirteen-day tour to the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland. Among the many highlights were a workshop with Tõnu Kaljuste, Vytautas Miškinis and Peteris Vasks, as well as an abbreviated performance of Considering Matthew Shepard in Krakow, Poland immediately after visiting the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. By the end of the performance all of us, including the US Ambassador, were in tears. The Chamber Singers fall began with a concert of the music of Karol Szymanowski for the Polish Music Center’s Paderewski Lecture-Recital featuring a number of his Kurpie Songs. That was followed by our annual fall concert “Radiant Dawn” with both Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. Music featured was by Salomone Rossi, Claudio Monteverdi, Johann Schein, Felix Mendelssohn, and USC Thornton composers Ted Hearne and Cristian Grases. The concert also included a world premiere of a work composed by Shawn Kirchner and Stacey V. Gibbs and US premiere of a work by Henrik Dahlgren from Sweden. Winter Gala: Sounds of the Season continues to grow in attendance and provides us with additional scholarship support. Our University Chorus is approaching one hundred singers, and is adjusting our outlook on our ensembles. In addition, we have deleted the words “men’s” and “women’s” from the titles of the Apollo and Oriana choirs to better reflect the inclusivity of our choral ensembles. We welcome you to visit us at any time or provide us with names of students of all levels we can contact to become the next members of the Trojan Family. I hope to see many of you at our USC reception at the National ACDA Conference in Kansas City in February. One last note, our colleague who has been teaching voice for the past four years, Alvin Brightbill, retired this past June. We wish Al and his wife, Juanita, all the best as they now are finally fully retired, and we thank Al for his service. I continue to be excited about the future of this program and am thankful to all of you who continue to support us. I wish you all a wonderful year ahead, and hope to see you at a concert, event on campus or at the ACDA reception. 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


The USC Thornton Chamber Singers

chamber singers

concert choir

The USC THORNTON CHAMBER SINGERS had an extremely busy spring with two major performances and an international tour. Guest artist, Craig Hella Johnson, and members from the GRAMMY award-winning ensemble, Conspirare, joined the Chamber Singers for a memorable performance of Considering Matthew Shepard. In addition to this special performance, the USC Choral Artists performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the USC Symphony and the Pacific Symphony. In May, the school year was capped off with an international tour to the Baltic’s, with performances in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. In addition to the regularly scheduled fall concert and Winter Gala performances, the Chamber Singers presented Polish choral works by Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Karol Szymanowski at the Paderewski Lecture-Recital, a special concert presented by USC’s Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music celebrating 100 years of Poland’s Independence.

The USC THORNTON CONCERT CHOIR had a very special spring semester culminating in a performance at the ACDA Western Division Conference. The program, conducted by Dr. Cristian Grases, was dedicated to the memory of Maestro Electo Silva (1928−2017). That same semester the choir performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Pacific Symphony. In the Fall semester, the ensemble prepared a set describing a “dawn,” with music from diverse periods and geographical origins, including the world premiere of Cristian Grases’ adaptation of Alberto Grau’s Como Tú, originally written for sixteen treble-voice parts. The year concluded with the annual Winter Gala Scholarship Concert. The USC Thornton Concert Choir

4 ensemble activities

The USC Thornton Concert Choir

apollo chorus

Last spring APOLLO CHORUS bid a fond farewell to our colleagues, associate conductors Scott Rieker and Da’Jon James, as they departed USC to further develop their careers. The members and lead conductor, Ernest H. Harrison, gladly welcomed associate conductors Daniel Gee and Max Vowel in the fall semester. In their fall concert, “One World, One Family,” Apollo and Oriana fully embraced the ideals of inclusion and unity through the music of André Thomas, Z. Randall Stroope, and Craig Hella Johnson. Currently the chorus is focusing on the themes of acceptance in an effort to combat the negativity that many of us face every day. Sing on family. FAMILY SING ON! The USC Apollo Chorus

university chorus The USC UNIVERSITY CHORUS maintains its tradition of continually welcoming members of the community and the greater Trojan family to come together and sing on Wednesday nights. The spring included a performance of Schubert’s Mass in G, accompanied by a string quartet under the direction of Andrew Schultz. The fall program, entitled “Aspects of Love,” presented the awe-inspiring nature of love through music focusing on the celebration of faith and humanity. Repertoire included music from Taiwan, Germany, England, Sweden, and the United States under the direction of DMA students Yen-Hsiang Nieh, Colin Stave, and Heeseong Lee. Once again, the University Chorus participated in Winter Gala and performed the work of USC composition and organ student, Ethan Haman. The USC University Chorus performing at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.

oriana choir

The ORIANA CHOIR continued its tradition of performing exclusively treble repertoire in their fall semester concert, “One World, One Family.” This program featured works from a broad range of genres and cultures, all of which show a universality of emotion and a shared human connection. A highlight of this program was Jake Runestad’s Please Stay, which tackles our societal responses to mental health issues. In the Spring 2019 semester, Oriana looks forward to preparing a full program of exclusively women composers, culminating with  From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez, a large multimovement composition by composer Abbie Betinis. 

The USC Oriana Choir

ensemble activities


Pillar of Leadership


DR. JERRY BLACKSTONE, DMA ’86, CHORAL MUSIC EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF CONDUCTING, SCHOOL OF MUSIC, THEATRE & DANCE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN It was the summer of 1980, and as the young Director of Choral Activities at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, I recognized the need to complete a doctorate. I had finished a master’s degree in choral conducting at Indiana in 1975, a year after graduating from Wheaton College with a piano performance degree, and I had finally reached the point of considering going back to school. It was a time when one could begin, and perhaps grow, a choral conducting career with only a master’s degree. Times were changing and it was becoming evident that I needed to know more than I did, and to do that meant undertaking doctoral studies. My family and I had moved to California in 1979 not only to take the position at Westmont, but to possibly complete a doctorate at USC. USC was an early leader in graduate studies in choral conducting, and I was anxious to see what might lie ahead. Our children were young in 1980—3 and 1.5 years—and my gracious and adventurous wife supported my dream of taking the next step. Those three summers when I chipped away at choral literature and musicology classes, commuting two hours each way from Santa Barbara to USC, were eye opening and invigorating. The challenges of studying again, of being pushed to really understand the material, and of placing in perspective what had before been random information, were inspiring. I also realized that sooner or later I would need to move our family to Los Angeles, become a fulltime graduate student, and figured out ways to complete the degree, all the way through, including the dissertation! I won’t iterate the complete list of events that occurred in the summer of 1983, when I resigned from my position at Westmont, studied orchestral conducting for nine weeks at the Aspen Music Festival, sold our Carpinteria house, packed our earthly belongings, moved to LA without knowing where we were going to live, started a wonderful church music position in Palos Verdes, and began doctoral studies at USC fulltime. Suffice it to say that the stress of taking doctoral entrance exams, finding housing, moving into a new place, getting our then 2nd grader started in a new school, and beginning

6 pillar of leadership

graduate classes became family lore. We all survived and I soon realized that the conducting, musicology, and piano studies I was enrolled in were going to be life-changing. That first year, 1983−84, was remarkable. I sang in the Chamber Singers, accompanying them in rehearsals and singing and playing in performances, and I had never experienced choral singing like that. Rehearsals were inspiring, and Rod Eichenberger’s deep musicality, energy, and gorgeous choral sound have stayed in my mind’s ear every day since then. I saw Rod change sound and bypass explanations and go directly to solutions, and I heard the differences. I wanted the choir(s) I led to have those qualities of elegance, appropriate and beautiful sound, and continuous musical expressiveness. I remember with fear and relief a Chamber Singers concert we sang at the Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena during the Christmas season of 1983. It was scheduled to begin at 7pm on a Friday afternoon, and my drive from San Pedro that evening—in the rain, during rush hour—far exceeded my expectations in every way. It took about two hours to drive to Pasadena, and I remember rushing into the venue just as the Chamber

Singers were getting ready to sing. Remember, those were pre-GPS days, and I wasn’t used to LA traffic, driving in December rain, and nearly arriving late for a performance. There were a few sighs of relief, but we were all survivors and sang a wonderful performance. My choral conducting journey had begun years before, but it was immeasurably impacted by what happened in those USC rehearsals and choral conducting masterclasses. We all morph over the years of a long career. Having just retired after 43 years of academic choral conducting, 30 of them at the University of Michigan, I think I understand “morphing.” My years at USC were seminal in establishing patterns of sound, color, elegance, shape, and confidence. From Rod, I learned that gesture immediately influences sound, that my gestures and the singers’ gestures can have remarkable effects, and that tying those concepts to great music will have lifelong implications. I saw gestural variety and experimentation in rehearsal. I was surrounded by singers who were much better than me, and who challenged me to do my best work all the time. I saw singers of all ages immediately improve, and I knew that I wanted to develop the

ability to lead choirs of all sizes and abilities, and to hear them sing beautifully. All of the graduate students were invited to witness Rod work with groups of young and older singers on one Saturday morning. It was there that I witnessed firsthand the brilliance of his festival artistry. The singers improved immediately, loved it, and the morning was characterized by hard work, warm smiles, and wonderful singing. Several additional specific experiences of those years remain vivid in my memory. In 1985 the Chamber Singers spent four weeks giving concerts and workshops throughout New Zealand and Australia. Rod was already a legend there, so singing in the Wellington Cathedral at the inaugural conference of the New Zealand Choral Federation was thrilling. The concert we sang in July in the Christchurch Basilica was memorable for the Basilica’s temperature. July in New Zealand is the dead of winter, not winter like a Michigan winter, but I was a Southern California boy at that point and the temperature had been very warm when we left Los Angeles a few days earlier. I remember being exceedingly grateful that I was a bass and had a jacket as part of my concert attire. My soprano and alto colleagues were freezing throughout the concert in their beautiful evening gowns, but sang the performance with elegance and character. The audience made no fuss whatsoever about the cold, and arrived with blankets and sat with rapt attention, wrapped up in their coats and blankets. My graduate colleagues in classes and rehearsals were numerous, perched on the brink of remarkable careers, and they became some of my dearest lifelong friends. We were survivors, we were partners, and we were immersed in developing our gesture and ears every day. What went on in the class and rehearsal rooms at USC was continued in my rehearsals with the church choir, which was game enough to sing the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem and the Beethoven Mass in C. I was indeed blessed to make music with those wonderful folks. Score study class with James Vail, and choral literature and church music classes with David Wilson became benchmarks for classes I would teach during my thirty years on the University of Michigan faculty. I’m grateful for the wisdom they shared, their advice, and for our friendships that continue to this day. At one point, during my time at USC, I remember asking Dr. Vail how I could improve the sound of the choirs I conducted. I was musical and there was a wonderful spirit among the singers, but the sound just wasn’t as beautiful as the sounds I was surrounded by at USC. His forthright and immediate comment, “It’s all about the vowels, you know,” was exactly what I needed to hear. I, in fact, hadn’t realized until that point that unified and beautiful vowels create beautiful sounds. The faculty became lifementors, and I’m deeply grateful. At USC, I was given the tools and the space to begin the process of becoming the conductor

I was meant to be. The opportunity to teach two semesters of beginning conducting, courses I loved teaching then and that I would continue to teach for many years at the University of Michigan, was fantastic. The students were bright, some hungry, all energetic, and everyone improved. No one was finished when we graduated. We had checked the boxes—and there were lots of boxes—and paid the bills—and there were lots of bills—and we had written the document—and there was much angst about getting the words to fit inside those crazy blue boxes—but we

“At USC, I was given the tools and the space to begin the process of becoming the conductor I was meant to be.” were choral conducting colleagues, ready to be launched on a myriad of careers throughout the US and abroad, and we were prepared. Not done, but prepared. I knew that I had much more to learn, that I needed to continue to fill my musical bank account with possibilities, and that I hoped for opportunities to lead and grow. I distinctly remember how my family and I celebrated my completing the final DMA hurdle by eating at Burger King across the street from campus. It matched our budget nicely and our kids were thrilled with the choice. I was blessed to be a faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for thirty years. I arrived in 1988, age 36—do the math—and knew that I had leaped with complete abandon into the deep end. I had never worked that hard, I had never been surrounded by that level of singing, I had never been surrounded by colleagues with that much experience, expertise, and drive, and I had never had the opportunity to dream those kinds of dreams before. The groups I led could do anything I could imagine. If I chose repertoire strategically, led productive and inspiring rehearsals, was a good and wise colleague, became connected in the state of Michigan and elsewhere, and showed my love of friends and of what I was doing, then all sorts of fun lay ahead. My work at Michigan morphed over the years into leading the graduate program in choral conducting, conducting the University of Michigan Chamber Choir, leading and preparing the UMS Choral Union for performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and other orchestras, chairing the Conducting Department, and leading festivals throughout the US and abroad. My studies at USC opened the door and gave me a taste of how fine choral singing could flourish

in a high level academic and performance setting. The blessings of faith and the partnership of my wife, Dody, were crucial in everything I did and continue to do. Dody and those two wonderful children who have surrounded us with six munchkins are the greatest gifts anyone could receive. I have a good friend who reminds me that how we think is how we conduct. Rod Eichenberger, James Vail, and David Wilson provided opportunities to dream—of musical possibilities, of repertoire possibilities, of gestural implications, and of sound possibilities. The graduate experiences I had at USC informed everything I’ve done in my career, both in rehearsal and in performance, and I am grateful.


nobl e f o un dat ion and

christine ofiesh LECTURE SERIES

The Department of Choral and Sacred Music will benefit from five guest lecturers this year. We gratefully acknowledge the funding for these visiting scholars.

Rodney Eichenberger

september 2018

Tesfa Wondemagegnehu october 2018


february 2019

Jerry McCoy

february 2019

Hilary Apflestadt april 2019

pillar of leadership



Welcome Home. Thank you for your support and unwavering commitment to USC and <School ThorntonName> – it’s because – it’s because of you that USC continues its impressive rise among the ranks of the world’s great research universities. Together we are making a difference. Together we are changing the world.

Fight On! On this day, at this moment we have something big to accomplish together. Help us reach our highest alumni participation level ever. Your gift, no matter the size, has a tremendous impact. Let’s show the world the collective power of the Trojan Family. Text-to-Give today!

Support USC, simply text: 1. Enter Number: ##44 41 ## 4# 2. Text: Ch <Key ora wo l rd> 3. Tap the link 4. Complete the form


When I was a doctoral student in choral music at USC, I was shocked at the extra costs of producing a recital; hiring instrumentalists, buying multiple copies of the music, paying for a recording, feeding the choir, and all the other incidentals really added up. I knew some of my friends were on scholarship, and that finding funds for recitals would present quite a challenge for them. And equally, for those students paying full tuition, the recital costs can be taxing on top of an already steep tuition. After talking with Mike Scheibe about these recital financial challenges, we established a Recital Fund. Students apply for Recital Fund grants, outlining exactly the specific costs of their recital, and the department distributes grants accordingly. Every year I receive lovely thank you notes from the students, and it gives me great satisfaction to know that I am helping to ease the burden for students who are creating first-class choral recitals. I know the

To learn more about giving to USC Thornton choirs, contact the Thornton Advancement Office at (213) 740-6474 or music.advancement@usc.edu.

department demands so much of the students, expecting excellent work in all their classes, choirs, and recitals, and this is one way I can make their lives just a little less hectic. In addition to the Recital Fund, my family foundation has been happy to support the Lecture Series that the department has created. They invite the top people in choral music to campus, including Rodney Eichenberger, Maria Guinand, David Childs, and Josh Habermann, exposing students to leading-edge ideas and music from some of the best and the brightest, further enriching an already strong program. I came to the USC Thornton Choral Music doctoral program late in life, and I have been thrilled with the skills and musical education I received. From the choral development class with Dr. Scheibe, and singing in Concert Choir with Dr. Grases, learning liturgies with Dr. Sparks, and music in the holocaust with Dr. Strimple, as well as instrumental conducting with Dr. Livingston and Dr. Carver, conducting lessons with Don Brinegar and voice lessons with Mary Scheibe, I was enriched and stretched and nurtured beyond anything I could have imagined. Thornton’s unique blend of scholarship, community, and musicianship gave me the skills and the confidence to reach

Nancy Holland (DMA ’17, Choral Music)

for my dreams and fulfill my passion. I am thrilled to be in the position of helping other students fulfill their dreams in Thornton’s Choral Music Program. While I am pleased to support the USC Choral and Sacred Music Department, additional funding is still needed. Help make a USC education possible for deserving students. Donate today through Text to Give, or contact the USC Thornton Office of Advancement.

I N MEMORIAM Texas-born mezzo-soprano, Nina Hinson Rasmussen (1941−2018) passed away on Sunday, August 26 after suffering a stroke the day before. Nina was a native of Dallas,  attended Woodrow Wilson High School and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Oklahoma University. She arrived at the University of Southern California, to pursue a Master’s of Music degree, with her voice in ruins. Her teacher, William Venard, the famous American  vocal pedagogue, both repaired her voice and planted a seed that grew into Nina’s life-long interest in teaching with a specialty in repairing voices. A  1967 winner of the San Francisco Opera  Auditions, she won the  Metropolitan Opera West Coast Regional Auditions in 1968, but after accepting a contract to sing in Germany, she became ineligible to go on to the finals in New York. Her professional career began in Kaiserslautern, Germany and continued at the Staatstheater Kassel. In all, she spent five years in Germany, performing more than 80 roles, singing in major opera houses

throughout Germany, France and Switzerland, specializing in the heroines of Wagner and Verdi, and performing the role of Carmen more than one hundred times. After returning to America in 1974 and settling in Los Angeles, Nina sang at many leading opera houses, including Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, and Houston alongside the likes of Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, and Jonathan Mack. She also performed oratorio and symphonic repertoire with  many of the world’s leading conductors, including Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Edo de Waart, Michael Tilson Thomas, Erich Leinsdorf and Georg Solti. A distinguished pedagogue, Nina began her teaching career at the University of Southern California. Following USC, Nina took a professorship at the University of California at Irvine, where she chaired the vocal  and opera departments. Her final tenure was at UCLA as a Distinguished Professor of Voice.  Nina is survived by her beloved husband of 51 years, Dr. Prescott C. Rasmussen, sister Carol, son Dmitri, daughter-in-law Maggie, niece Dixie, great-niece Rachel and great-nephew Andrew. Nina also leaves behind a huge and

widespread musical family made up of former colleagues and the multitude of students she taught throughout the years with intelligence, love and honesty, freely sharing advice based on the knowledge she accumulated over her long career. Nina will be greatly missed, but the impact she had on so many will live on forever. Dr. Stephen Gothold (1941–2018, DMA ’78, Choral Music) served as Director of Choral Activities at Whittier College from 1977 to 2003. A graduate of Whittier College, he received his MA from Occidental College under Howard Swan, and Doctor of Musical Arts from USC under Charles Hirt and Rodney Eichenberger. Gothold was the founding conductor and Music Director of Chorale Bel Canto since 1981. He studied under Helmuth Rilling at the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart, Germany, and has participated in master classes with Wilhelm Ehmann, Frank Pooler and Robert Shaw. giving back • in memoriam 9

Year in Review JA N UA RY Dr. Scheibe and Dr. Grases were invited to conduct Florida All-State Choirs in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Strimple traveled to Cambridge, England for a week-long residency in which he lectured on Holocaust music. BACM student, Kate Crellin presented her research project entitled, “Transgender Students in the Choral Classroom: Creating Safe and Accepting Environments.” Her research was made possible by a USC Provost’s Research Grant, and featured special guests Dr. Joshua Palkki from California State Long Beach, members of the Trans Chorus of LA, and Mira Costa High School director Michael Hayden.

Dr. Scheibe traveled to Bangkok to work with students at Chulalongkorn University. Graduate auditions brought a number of prospective students to campus for a rigorous week of auditions. Dr. Ann Howard Jones visited the USC campus for a five-day residency leading conducting masterclasses and lecturing on choral literature. Her visit ended with the annual High School Choral Invitational and Community College Festival, which featured sixteen choruses and over 500 high school and collegiate singers.


M A RC H Dr. Z Randall Stroope visited campus for a five-day residency presenting a conducting masterclass and lectured on choral literature. The annual PSICA festival was held in Bovard Auditorium with Dr. Stroope as adjudicator. The USC Concert Choir was privileged to perform at the ACDA Western Division Conference in Pasadena.

April was one of our busiest months on record. Craig Hella Johnson visited campus with two singers and two instrumentalists from Conspirare to perform his oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard with the Chamber Singers. Only one week after this performance, the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir performed Beethoven’s 9th with the Pacific Symphony, under the direction of Carl St. Clair. Dr. Scheibe and Dr. Grases both had a busy month with engagements around the country. Dr. Grases adjudicated and conducted the Golden Festival in San Francisco, as well as conducted a North Carolina All-State Choir. Dr. Scheibe traveled to New York to conduct at Carnegie Hall, and was artist in residence at Cherry Creek High School.

A P RI L section in review name 10 year

JUNE Preparations for the 2018−19 school year started early with ensemble recruitment at campus orientation events. In June, Dr. Grases had the privilege of guest conducting the world premiere of his newest work, La Cigarra

The Department of Choral and Sacred Music was pleased to graduate three BACM, two master’s, and two doctoral students. Following graduation, the Chamber Singers had an experience of a lifetime touring the Baltics. Throughout their thirteen-day journey the ensemble performed in; Tallinn, Estonia, Riga, Latvia, Vilnius, Lithuania, Warsaw, and Krakow. The concert program celebrated the region’s 100-year anniversary of independence by pairing composers of the area with American composers, including Morten Lauridsen. Prior to the tour, Dr. Scheibe traveled to Michigan to conduct the Michigan All-State Choir.


N OV EM B ER J U LY y La Hormiga, at Carnegie Hall. In July both Dr. Scheibe and Dr. Grases were world travelers with conducting and presentation engagements in Arizona, Kansas, Florida, New Zealand, Spain, and China.

S EP T EM B ER Visiting professor Suzi Digby returned to lecture and conduct the fifth annual Golden Bridge concert, which featured four commissioned works. Thanks to a generous donation from Christine Ofiesh, Rod Eichenberger was the first guest artist of the fall semester. Professor Eichenberger worked with four of the university ensembles, led a conducting masterclass and lectured on choral development.

At the beginning of the semester, new graduate students joined the department. Voice placements occurred for all ensembles, with high caliber singers continuing to join the ranks of USC choral singers. Two ensemble names were changed in order to be more gender inclusive. The Apollo Men’s Chorus and Oriana Women’s Choir were rebranded to become Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir.


The Chamber Singers helped celebrate 100 years of Polish independence in a joint performance and lecture concert with the Quadrophonic String Quartet, and guest lecturer, Dr. Lisa Cooper-Vest. Tesfa Wondemagegnehu directed the Choral Leadership Workshop with over 200 local high school students, and adjudicated the Community College Invitational Festival. In addition, Mr. Wondemagegnehu presented two enlightening lectures on inspired performance and diversity. Chamber Singers and Concert Choir presented a concert entitled “Radiant Dawn” that included the world premiere of a joint composition by Shawn Kirchner and Stacey V. Gibbs.

The build up to the 2018 Winter Gala started early with combined ensemble rehearsals throughout November, as plans were finalized for another incredible scholarship fundraiser. A much needed break occurred during Thanksgiving, only to return and prepare for the end of the fall semester. Dr. Scheibe returned early in November from a twoweek trip to the State Conservatory in Yerevan, Armenia for the USC Thornton School of Music. Late in November, Dr. Strimple traveled to Munich for performances of his work, Franciscan Canticles by the Mendelssohn Choir.

The Chamber Singers continued holiday caroling at Town and Gown, and the Dean’s Donor Dinner. The Winter Gala scholarship fundraiser was a memorable endcap on another successful and productive year for the department. All five university choirs performed and were joined by the USC Trombone Choir, Brass Quintet, and other talented USC student and faculty performers.


O C TO B ER year in review 11

Chamber Singers BALTIC TOUR by Daniel Anderson


rom Europe to Southeast Asia and beyond, many of the world’s cultures have developed thriving choral traditions. But it’s in the Baltic countries of Northern Europe where the treasured art of groupsinging remains more popular, per capita, than any place else in the world. In celebration of this extraordinary tradition and the 100th birthday of Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers toured six of the region’s historical cities in May of 2018. With so much great music to choose from, Choral & Sacred Music  chair  Jo-Michael

Scheibe took an insightful approach to the trip’s programming. “In a time of national and global divisiveness, we wanted to honor the universal language of music on this tour by pairing U.S. composers with Baltic and Polish composers, almost all of whom are living,” Scheibe said. “We had a large stage on which to present the music of our country and we also sang in the languages of those countries we were visiting.” The ensemble worked closely with the  USC Polish Music Center to make creative connections on the ground, including an engaging workshop with Tõnu Kaljuste, director of the Estonian

Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Composers Pärt, Uusberg, and Pēteris Vasks were on hand to work with the Chamber Singers, and Vytautas Miškinis even conducted the ensemble in his own composition at the Gothic Church of St. John’s in Vilnius. In between performances, the twoweek tour brought the Chamber Singers to spectacular fifteenth-century castles, medieval cathedrals, and even the Wieliczka Salt Mine and chapel in Poland, where they gave an impromptu performance of Marek Racyzński’s Gaudeamus Omnes. The Chamber Singers also called upon more somber landmarks in a region where history casts

a long and sometimes chilly shadow, from World War II to the Soviet era. Following their visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp, the ensemble was moved to perform an excerpt from Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard, a deeply-reflective work that embraces compassion in the face of hatred. Scheibe reflected on the tour as a profound learning experience. “From great cathedrals to smaller venues, singing the music of living composers in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland was key to helping students understand the universality of the art form, and how music, especially choral music, can transcend the imaginary boarders of countries.”

ACDA Performance The USC THORNTON CONCERT CHOIR was honored to perform at the 2018 ACDA Western Division Conference in Pasadena, under the direction of Cristian Grases. The Concert Choir’s ACDA performance marked their first since 1984, when they performed at an ACDA conference under the direction of James Vail. The program was selected in honor of recently deceased Cuban master teacher Electo Silva. The music highlighted the wonderful colors, timbres, and poetry associated with Latin America with works by Ernesto Herrera (b.1988), Cesar Alejandro Carillo (b.1967), Carlos Alberto Pinto Fonesca (1933−2006), Antonio Lauro (1917−1986), Oscar Hernandez (1891−1927), and Leo Brouwer (b.1939).

SHEPARD CONSIDERING byMATTHEW Evan Calbi Craig Hella Johnson, the GRAMMY Award-winning composer of the oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard, took the stage with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers on Sunday, April 8 after a week of rehearsals and masterclasses to perform his choral piece about college student Matthew Shepard who in 1998 was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die in a Wyoming field because he was gay. Johnson was joined by two singers from his professional ensemble Conspirare, Kathlene Ritch and Matthew Alber, who reprised their roles from the original production. In addition, guitarist Mitch Watkins and percussionist Thomas Buritt also traveled from Texas, and were joined by USC Thornton students for the performance at Bovard. Sponsored by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts & Humanities Initiative, the production capped a remarkable week with Johnson that included masterclasses for current USC students.

USC SINGERS Premiere New Work at WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL by Seth Houston, DMA ‘14 Singers from USC Thornton’s Department of Choral and Sacred Music joined forces with the Donald Brinegar Singers, UCI Chamber Singers, and soloists to premiere a new work at Walt Disney Concert Hall on October 9, 2018. The work, Oscillations: One Hundred Years and Forever, by New York-based composer Ellen Reid, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of its centennial celebration. USC’s choral forces were prepared by Tram Sparks, and the ensemble was conducted by Seth Houston (DMA ’14). In addition to the premiere, which was presented as part of LA Fest: LA’s Newest Music and the Green Umbrella Series, the ensemble performed the work again on Thursday, October 11, as part of a concert with Andrew Bird and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. USC was delighted to join forces with two alumni—and one former faculty member—to bring to life this extraordinary new work by an exciting young composer. It was a transcendent experience, and one that expanded the possibilities of the choral art.

12 year in review

facultynews Jo-Michael Scheibe CHAIR

Jo-Michael Scheibe was active this past year with off campus travels to conduct the Florida Mixed All-State Choir in January and Michigan All-State Choir in May. He traveled to Bangkok, Thailand in February to teach and conduct at Chulalongkorn University under the leadership of Dr. Pawasut Jodi Piriyapongrat (MM ’96, Church Music, DMA ’05, Choral Music). In early February he served on the committee for the academic review of the choral and voice program at Temple University. In April, Dr. Scheibe served as Artist-in-Residence at Cherry Creek High School in Colorado. His summer remained busy with the Kantorei High School Choir’s Summer Institute in Kansas, conducting the “Summer Sing” with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, where he served as artistic director from 1996−2001, presenting masterclasses and workshops in Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand, and presented at the Arizona ACDA conference. In October, he traveled on behalf of the Thornton School of Music to visit and present masterclasses in Yerevan, Armenia. His busy year of travel ended at the Loyola Marymount’s Collegiate Choral Festival in November.

Nick Strimple PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE In January Dr. Strimple (DMA ’76, Choral Music) returned to the University of Cambridge where he gave Holocaust lectures at Queens’ College and critiqued a rehearsal of Verdi’s Requiem. In February he returned to Texas where he recruited potential students and gave Holocaust lectures at Tascosa High School in Amarillo and Canadian High School in Canadian. In March he presided at the Western Division ACDA Conference opening night Convocation in which two of his compositions were featured. He and Dr. Sparks also presented the Worship Music Reading Session at the conference. In October Dr. Strimple was in Residence at Wellesley College where he gave Holocaust lectures, and in November he journeyed to Munich to hear his Franciscan Canticles, performed by the Mendelssohn Choir of Munich. This year two of his compositions were published by Galaxy Music (ECS) and one of his Holocaust editions was published by Pavane. The November issue of The Choral Journal featured his article on Bloch’s Sacred Service. His review of the complete sacred music of Joseph Rheinberger (Carus, 10 CDs) appears online on Cambridge University Press’s FirstView. \


Cristian Grases conducted the Thornton Concert Choir at the ACDA Western Division Conference in Pasadena. In July, he conducted the world premiere of his new original forty-five-minute work

for treble voices and orchestra, entitled La Cigarra y La Hormiga, at Carnegie Hall in New York. He was also a guest conductor at the Festival Internacional de Cant Coral presenting a concert at the famed Palau de la Musica, in Barcelona, Spain; and guest-conducted the Alberta Youth Choir presenting concerts all throughout the province, including at the prestigious Winspear Center for the Music Conference Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Additionally, Grases conducted in several festivals within the United States, including All-State choirs in Florida and North Carolina. Grases adjudicated and presented at three festivals in China: the Inner Mongolia Choral Festival in Hohhot, the Beijing International Choral Festival in Beijing, and the Kaili International Folk Song Festival in Kaili. Four of his new compositions were premiered: I Am (Florida All-State Middle School Treble Choir), La Esperanza del Caminante (Miami Children’s Choir), La Cigarra y La Hormiga (DCINY Festival Choir), and his adaptation of Alberto Grau’s Como Tú for mixed voices (Thornton Concert Choir). Grases has been commissioned by The Golden Bridge Choir for 2019, and will be one of five judges at the prestigious Tokyo and Taipei International Choir Competitions.

Tram Sparks ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR In the past year, Dr. Sparks worked as a clinician with several high school choirs during their USC and Los Angeles tours. In March 2018, Sparks presented an interest session at the ACDA Western Division Conference entitled “Music as Movement & Movement as Music: Dance Theory for Choral Conductors,” focusing on the Martha Graham Technique® as a basis of movement philosophy in choral conducting technique. Also in March, Sparks guest conducted on a concert titled “Do You Hear Her? Music for Voices of Silenced Women,” performed by Tonality, a professional choir devoted to social justice, and founded by DMA candidate Alex Blake, artistic director. In October 2018, Sparks collaborated with Seth Houston, DMA, of UC Irvine and Don Brinegar of Donald Brinegar Singers on the Los Angeles Philharmonic commission premiere of Ellen Reid’s Oscillations: One Hundred Years and Forever, a “sound and art installation” for large choir, soloists, and percussion, along with sound and video design. The premiere was performed under the auspices of the Green Umbrella series in celebration of the LA Philharmonic’s 100th anniversary.


Three recordings of music by Distinguished Professor, Morten Lauridsen, were released in 2018, including “Light Eternal – The Choral Music of Morten Lauridsen” by The Chamber Choir of Europe (Deutsche Grammophon), “Shadows on the Stars” by The Oregon Repertory Singers, conducted by TSOM alum Ethan Sperry (MM ’98, DMA ’00), and violinist

Anne Akiko Meyer’s performance of O Magnum Mysterium with the Philharmonia orchestra, conducted by Kristjan Jarvi, who commissioned Dr. Lauridsen to arrange “Mirror on Mirror,” (Avie Recordings). Dr. Lauridsen was the recipient of his fifth honorary doctorate from Muhlenberg College, and also received the 2018 Half Century Trojan Award.


Ladd Thomas is currently Emeritus Professor of Organ, and chair of the organ department at the USC Thornton School of Music. On the first of July, 2018, he began his 59th year as organist of the First United Methodist Church of Glendale. 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. 

Rodney Eichenberger FORMER PROFESSOR

Professor Emeritus at Florida State University and former USC professor and Chamber Singers conductor Rodney Eichenberger, continues to remain active as a clinician throughout the world. This year he presented sessions at the Southwest, Oregon, and Nevada ACDA conventions. He continued his summer choral conducting workshop in Seaside, Oregon, and was a visiting lecturer at USC, El Camino College, California State University Bakersfield, University of Las Vegas, and Bakersfield College.


Though retired from the Department since 1999, James Vail continues to be active in Los Angeles as a conductor and as an organist. In October he presented his tenth noonday organ recital at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. His 35-voice choral group, The Laudamus Te Singers, which presents two concerts a year, began its third season in November, presenting Britten’s cantata, St. Nicolas, and Mozart works at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church. They were joined by St. Bede’s choir (USC Choral alumnus Frank Basile, music director) and orchestra, with USC alumnus and former voice faculty member, Jonathan Mack, in the title role of the Britten, and the South Bay Children’s Choir.


The year was filled with concerts, lectures and author events for professor emeritus, David Wilson. In June Dr. Wilson was guest conductor of the Prescott Chorale and Orchestra with concerts in faculty news 13

Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Wroclaw, and Prague. The featured work on the program was Johann Adolf Hasse’s Mass in D minor, a work Wilson unearthed, reconstructed, and is the subject of his book, The Dresden Manuscripts. In addition, Wilson was guest speaker at a Hasse symposium in Hamburg. Several book signing events in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Boston, New York, and London provided Wilson with unique opportunities to share Hasse’s music and importance in the 18th century. Wilson had the privilege to celebrate over sixty years in church music by conducting a special concert at Christ Presbyterian Church where he serves as Director of Music. He enjoys hearing about the many accomplishments of Thornton faculty, students and alumni. Contact him at djwilson99@ hotmail.com. Fight On!


Professor Emeritus at Pasadena City College, Donald Brinegar (MM ’85, Choral Music), had another busy year “in retirement” adjudicating and conducting honor choirs. In March the Donald Brinegar Singers celebrated the 75th birthday of Morten Lauridsen with a sold-out concert in his honor. Brinegar taught for the eighteenth summer at CSULA and conducted and lectured in their Summer Choral Festival, celebrating the music of Dale Trumbore. A performance with the Pasadena Pops celebrated America, and the summer concluded with Brinegar and his singers performing a staged concert version of Bernstein’s Candide, with the San Bernardino Symphony to rave reviews. Brinegar continues to conduct the choruses for the Pasadena Symphony, the Jet Propulsion Lab Chorus, and is Adjunct Professor of Voice and Conducting for the CSULA Summer Master’s Program. Fall activities included the Mozart Requiem with the Pasadena Symphony, conducting workshops in Southern California, a collaboration with the LA Philharmonic in the

premier of Ellen Reid’s “Oscillations” including singers from UCI and USC, and two sold-out Christmas Candlelight Concerts with the Pasadena Pops. Brinegar looks forward to a spring release of his new book on the practice of intonation aesthetics in the choral rehearsal published by Pavanne Music.


Former Choral and Sacred Music Department faculty member Megen Solomon has had a very busy season conducting the San Francisco Bach Choir. She started her twenty-fourth season with the San Francisco Choral Artists which premiered twenty new works throughout their thirteen-concert season. Solomon continues to direct the Berkeley Chamber Chorus, performing everything from chant to broadway and jazz. Solomon wishes to encourage everyone to vote, regardless of political view. She continues to be blessed with good health and a wonderful husband with whom she travelled to Sweden and Denmark in the summer. She enjoys hearing from alumni. Feel free to contact her at magen.solomon@gmail.com.


Dr. Lisa Sylvester, Associate Professor of Practice, was awarded the Dean’s Award in Excellence in Service to the Thornton School at the yearly Thornton School of Music Awards Ceremony in May 2018. Earlier in the spring semester, she curated and performed in a concert of new works for voice by USC alumni composers, performed by alumni singers at the Boston Court Theater in Pasadena. She also gave the east coast premiere of a new work by professor Alan L. Smith, And with such boldness, at Syracuse University, NY, collaborating with soprano, Kathleen Roland-Silverstein and violinist, Alex Russell (both Thornton alumni). In June she mentored and collaborated with soprano Liv Redpath in the

alumninews After twenty-nine years of teaching high school, Dr. Kerry Burtis is starting his third year as the Director of Music at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. At Chemeketa Community College, Burtis directs the choirs, teaches music theory, music appreciation, conducting, and oversees a music department consisting of over twenty music instructors.

Dr. Harold Daugherty (MM ‘67, DMA ‘76) began

his 18th year as Director of Music at La Cañada Congregational Church. In May 2018 he directed the choir in choral music by Christina Whitten Thomas (MM ’05, Composition), John Rutter, and

14 faculty news • alumni news

the whole choir.

Heinz Werner Zimmermann, along with the Vivaldi “Gloria”. This coming December the treble voices in the choir will sing Vincent Persichetti’s “Winter Cantata” followed by Christmas anthems sung by

Chris Eanes (MM ’07, DMA

’11; Choral Music) is pleased to share that his performance of Handel’s Messiah with Collegium Cincinnati was broadcasted on 90.9 WGUC (Cincinnati) on December 17.

Emerging Artist series at the Boston Court Theater in Pasadena. Dr. Sylvester also returned to the training program, Opera Viva! in Verona, Italy, for her fourth summer on the faculty. This fall she began her tenure as Chair of the Vocal Arts and Opera program. In October she also was guest clinician at CollabFest at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX—a conference dedicated to keyboard collaborative artists at the collegiate and professional level.


In May Lynn Helding partnered with Andrew Justice, Head of the Music Library, to produce The Art and Science of Great Teaching: Celebrating the Legacy of William Vennard, a one-day symposium made possible by a USC Libraries Dean’s Challenge Grant and cosponsored by the Thornton School of Music. The symposium marked the opening of the library’s Vennard Collection, made up of recordings, notebooks and other items gifted to USC from several donors. Eight prominent American voice pedagogues gave guest lectures connecting their work in voice science to honor Vennard, who chaired the voice department at USC from 1950– 71. The symposium was followed by a two-day voice pedagogy summit to discuss the current state of voice science pedagogy and plan for its future. Fifty prominent voice pedagogues from across the United States and Canada took part. The symposium and summit proceedings will be published in 2019 by Inside View Press. In July, Helding gave a Featured Speaker Presentation at the NATS 55th National Conference in Las Vegas entitled, “Alternative Facts: The Cognitive Dissonance of Hearing versus Feeling,” as well as a joint presentation, “Singing For A New World: How Voice Can Save The Culture,” about the health benefits of community singing. She also served as a guest master teacher at the summer Vocology Institute of the National Center for Voice and Speech in Salt Lake City.

Noreen Green (DMA ’91,

Choral Music) is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS), Music Director of the AJU Choir, and Music Director of the Encore Singers at Pierce College. In December 2017, she was honored by Musical America, as one of its Movers & Shapers, the Top 30 Musical America Professionals of the Year. In February 2018, at the invitation of celebrated composer Raymond Goldstein, Dr. Green conducted the Pesach Extravaganza at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, Florida. In April, Dr. Green recorded the ballet Jacob and Rachel by Eric Zeisl, a composer who fled his native Austria to escape the Holocaust and settled in Los Angeles. The CD

will be released on Albany Records in early 2019. Also in April, Dr. Green led the LAJS and her American Jewish University Choir in Bernstein at 100/Israel at 70, a concert at AJU celebrating the centenary of Leonard Bernstein and the founding of Israel 70 years ago. In August, Dr. Green conducted the LAJS and members of the renowned dance troupe BODYTRAFFIC in a concert entitled The Promise: A Zeisl Concert, devoted to the music of Eric Zeisl. The program featured Zeisl’s ballet Jacob and Rachel.

Stephanie Henry (DMA ’90, Choral Music)

serves as accompanist/continuo player for Schola Cantorum, and is the Artistic Director of the Leawood Singers, a volunteer women’s chorus in Kansas. Stephanie recently acquired leadership of the Topeka Correctional Facility’s Women’s Chorus after working for six years as associate conductor for the Lansing Correctional Facility’s Men’s Chorus. In addition, since July 2017 she has served as Dean for the Greater Kansas City Chapter of AGO. Her publications include reviews and articles for The Choral Journal and Corrections Today, and her presentations on Arts in Prison have earned her considerable attention.

Nancy Holland (DMA ’17;

Choral Music) continues to enjoy leading the choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City. This fall she conducted the choir in a World Premiere of Songs Beyond Imagination by Daniel Cragan, a local film composer and choir member. Nancy also sings with the Donald Brinegar Singers, and is the Assistant Conductor of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Chorus. Both DBS and JPL sang with the Pasadena Symphony in the Mozart Requiem this past fall.

Seth Houston (DMA ’14;

Choral Music) was thrilled to be able to join his UCI Chamber Singers with singers from USC Thornton and the Donald Brinegar Singers to present the world premiere of Oscillations: One Hundred Years and Forever, by Ellen Reid. The work was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in honor of its centennial celebration, and performed by the combined choir, together with video art, vocal soloists, and percussion, at the Keck Amphitheatre at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Seth’s UCI Chamber Singers also performed the Brahms Requiem, with Cal State Long Beach, Riverside City College, and the UCI Symphony. Now in his second year as Associate Chair for Performance, Seth enjoys supporting the department’s performance program.

Ron Kean (DMA ’87, Choral

Music) is professor emeritus at Bakersfield College. In 2016 Kean received the Howard Swan Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Choral Directors Association. Recently he has completed nine commissions which are all published by Pavane Publishing. His work, Normandy was commissioned by the Cuesta College North County Chorus for their performance at the American Cemetery at Normandy Beach scheduled for July 4, 2019, at which Kean will

conduct the premiere. In addition, The Journey of Harriet Tubman was commissioned by the Bakersfield College Choirs. It is a 5-movement multi-media work for video, choir, soprano soloist, kalimba and marimba and is set in a west-African musical style.

Rayvon T.J. Moore (BACM,

‘15) is a second year DMA conducting student at the Eastman School of Music. This past year, Moore conducted the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Community Chorus and Eastman Chamber Orchestra in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Vivaldi’s Magnificat. In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, on May 3, 2019, Moore will lead the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and the Eastman Symphony School Orchestra in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah.”  During the summer of 2017,

Joanna Medawar Nachef

(MM ’83, DMA ’88, Choral Music) celebrated her 23rd year as Director of Choral Activities at El Camino College, her 29th year as choral director at Peninsula Community Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, and her fourth season as Artistic Director for her semiprofessional group, Joanna Medawar Nachef Singers. The El Camino Chorale participated in the 2018 USC and Chapman University Community College Choral Festivals. On May 2018, she gave her 6th guest conducting appearance at Carnegie Hall with MidAmerica Productions, conducting a 125-voice choir and the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Her most recent recognitions include the 2018 Easy Reader and Peninsula Magazine cover articles, Lebanon’s HOME magazine “1st Maestra of the Middle East,” and the 2018 Women’s Issue for the South Bay Magazine featuring 50 successful women in business. This past winter the Torrance Performing Arts Consortium appointed her as chairman of the Advisory Board and Artistic Director/Conductor of the newly formed Torrance Pops Orchestra.

Daniel Newman-Lessler

(MM ‘17) has taken on three new positions in Santa Barbara: music director of the UCSB Chamber Choir, co-music director of the newly founded Music Academy of the West Children’s Choir, and preparatory conductor for Santa Barbara Symphony’s choral-orchestral concerts. The Music Academy is currently partnered with the London Symphony Orchestra, and both organizations have commissioned a new children’s opera, which will be performed in a collaborative performance in London by the Academy’s children’s choir along with London youth. Daniel will be preparing the choir for Santa Barbara Symphony’s performances of Verdi’s Requiem and a live orchestra film screening of Amadeus.

Associate Professor Peter Pocock (DMA ’96, Choral

Music) recently moved from Canberra to Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia to take up the position of Sub Dean Graduate Studies with the Faculty of Arts and Education of Charles Sturt University. In this role Peter looks after the admission, administration, and graduation of over 250 Doctor of Philosophy, Research Professional Doctorate, and Research Masters students and faculty. While he misses conducting to a degree due to hearing loss, life is very full and rich in all sorts of new and exciting ways, especially with three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Troy Quinn (DMA ’14;

Choral Music) was recently appointed Music Director of the Venice Symphony in Florida after an international search involving nearly 200 candidates. He is currently in his second year as Music Director of the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky where he conducts both classical and pops concerts. Quinn recently completed his three-year tenure as Music Director of the Juneau Symphony and is currently on the conducting faculty at the University of Southern California where he serves as a Lecturer in Instrumental Conducting. He continues to guest conduct orchestras throughout the United States, and is also in demand as a session singer for recordings in television and motion pictures.

Jason Saunders (MM ’14;

Choral Music) is now in his fifth year as Director of Choirs at Graham-Kapowsin High School near Tacoma, Washington. The growing program includes over 200 singers, and Jason recently completed mentoring his first student teacher. The GKHS Chorale performed at two conferences last year, and is slated to appear at another in February 2019. He continues to serve on the Washington ACDA Board as the Web Editor. An active composer, his “Night Song” was recently selected for publication with Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Additionally, Jason has publications with Walton Music and Colla Voce Music. At USC, Saunders studied composition with Morten Lauridsen and received the Choral Department Award.

Geetha Somayajula

(BACM ’18) graduated in May with her BA in choral music and BS in business administration. She is currently abroad in India pursuing a Fulbright music research fellowship for the 2018−19 academic year. During the past year, Geetha continued as a 4th year mentor with Thornton Community Engagement Programs, and taught elementary school choir, music appreciation, and early childhood music classes. She also began volunteering with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as a “Meet the Music” mentor, introducing inner-city elementary students to classical music as part of the orchestra’s outreach initiative. At graduation, Geetha was honored as Thornton’s outstanding Bachelor of Arts student, alumni news 15

and was recognized as one of the school’s six outstanding graduates. Over the summer, she participated in the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Summer Internship Program, and worked as an Administrative Intern at Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra. After completing her internship, she moved to India to begin her Fulbright research project on South Indian classical music. Through her research, she hopes to empower American conductors to approach Indian music and other cultural styles with enthusiasm, sensitivity and respect. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Geetha will join global professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers as a firstyear strategy associate.

Ethan Sperry (MM ‘98,

DMA ‘00) is now the Barre Stoll Professor of Choral Music at Portland State University, the first endowed professorship at the University! Last Summer he brought the Portland State Chamber Choir to Indonesia where they were the first American choir ever to compete at the Bali International Choral Festival, the largest choral gathering in Asia. They won six separate awards including the Grand Prix. Their latest recording “The Doors of Heaven: Music of Eriks Esenvalds” was released by Naxos and is the first recording by a University Choir to ever hit #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart. Ethan is also the

conductor of Oregon Repertory Singers who are celebrating their 45th Anniversary Season by releasing a recording through Gothic Records of music by Pacific Northwest composers including the American premiere recordings of Prayer and Ya Eres Mia by USC’s own Morten Lauridsen.

Dale Trumbore (MM ’11,

Composition; Chamber Singers ‘09−11) is composer in residence for NYC-based ensemble Choral Chameleon, and recent performances of her works include orchestral premieres by the Pasadena Symphony and Modesto Symphony. In March 2019, her secular requiem How to Go On will be performed by The Singers Minnesota Choral Artists and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Most recently, Trumbore won the ACDA Brock Competition for Professional Composers. For more information on Trumbore’s music visit daletrumbore.com.

Sarah Twilley (BACM ’16) is

continuing her service on the Worship Leadership Team at Cityline Church in Lakewood, CA, where she also serves as Choir Director. In addition, she is in her second year with Free To Be Me Performing Arts Academy in Garden

USC ALUMNUS CONDUCTS AT REGIONAL CHORAL CONFERENCES Jason Saunders (MM ‘14) conducted the Graham-Kapowsin High School Chorale at the 2018 Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) conference in Yakima, WA, and the 2018 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Northwestern Regional Conference in Portland, OR. The choir has also been selected to perform at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Northwest Conference in Portland in Feburary 2019.

studentnews First-year DMA student Micah Bland is excited to join the USC Choral and Sacred Music Department. In the spring, Bland left his position as Assistant Choral Director at Rowe High School in McAllen, TX. The choirs at Rowe averaged 43 public performances each year, and were selected by the GRAMMY Foundation as a semifinalist for the Signature School Award. His most recent article, “Voices in your Head: A Method for Teaching Audiation in the Secondary Choral Classroom,” was published in the 2018 summer issue of ChorTeach. Currently at USC,

16 alumni news • student news

Bland serves as the administrative teaching assistant for the choral department. Some of his responsibilities include: editor of Choral News, visiting guest artists, and graduate auditions.

Kate Crellin is a senior at

USC pursuing a double major in Choral Music & Law, History and Culture and minor in Jazz Studies. She is proud to be a fouryear Chamber Singers member, a coarranger in the a cappella group Reverse Osmosis, and was the lead soprano in

Grove, CA as a voice teacher and music director for the Free To Be Me’s Dynamix Performance Troupe. Ms. Twilley accompanied the troupe to Nashville in Spring 2018, where they were invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Most recently, Ms. Twilley has joined the faculty at Orange County Christian School as the choir director.

Jaco Wong (MM ’16; Choral Music and

Composition) was commissioned by animation artist Evan Tedlock to compose Psithaura for 16part mixed chorus. The work was premiered in an interactive installation exhibited at USC Firehouse gallery in April 2018, then later presented in a lecture organized by Byte of Science by Hamed Mizaei Foundation. Kansas City VITAs Chamber Choir performed the composition live as part of their Summer Series 2018. The installation is now being presented at V2 Lab for Unstable Media in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As a conductor and educator, Wong began his choral directorship at Palisades Charter High School while continuing his tenure at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church. Wong remains an active member of the Contemporary Choral Collective of Los Angeles, and is scheduled to sing and conduct in a live scoring of Jean Epstein’s 1929 silent horror film, The Fall of the House of Usher. 

Dr. Joseph Amante y Zapata (DMA ‘02, Choral

Music) continues his position as professor of music at the Community College of Rhode Island, where they continue to journey through the great choral masterpieces. In addition, he was named conductor of the Roger Williams University Chorus, starting in the fall of 2018.

the CreSCendo Jazz Ensemble directed by Sara Gazarek. Kate is a two-time recipient of the USC Provost’s Research Fellowship for her research project, “Transgender Students in the Choral Classroom: Creating Safe & Accepting Environment.” She received 2nd place at the 2018 USC Undergraduate Research Symposium under the Digital Arts & Media category. She currently serves as the President for the USC ACDA Student Chapter (2018−19).  In addition, Kate teaches preschool music on a bi-weekly basis as part of a Thornton-based research project. This year, Kate founded the first choir at Marquez Elementary School through STAR Education.

During 2018, DMA candidate Adan Fernandez had the opportunity to present at the American Academy of Religion on his research,” The Effect of the American Prosperity Gospel on Popular Worship and Sacred Music in the United States. In addition, his most recent article, “Racial Identity in Music Education,” was published in the spring 2018 issue of ChorTeach. Fernandez continues his responsibilities as Music Director and Organist at Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale, and serves as a board member for the Kodaly Association of Southern California.

Daniel Gee (MM ’15, Choral

Music), third-year DMA student, was recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Long Beach Symphony, serving under Music Director Eckart Preu. His work as a church musician took him down to Brazil this summer, where he was invited to be a clinician in choral conducting and vocal technique at a music symposium sponsored by the Assemblies of God denomination in Sao Paulo and Jundiai. Other conducting engagements this summer included guest conductor of the Global Harmony Symphony of South Orange County for their summer concert, which included the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with fellow Thornton DMA colleague Mann-Wen Lo. As a composer, Daniel’s commissioned work Jubilee! was recently premiered by pianist Neil Di Maggio and Violinist Han Soo Kim at a private house concert.  At USC, Daniel finished his post as associate conductor for the Oriana Choir during the 2017−18 school year, during which he commissioned and premiered a new work for treble voices by composer Emma Lou Diemer.   He continues singing with the USC Chamber Singers, and joined them on their recent tour to the Baltics and Poland. He is currently serving as associate conductor of the USC Apollo Chorus and continues his work as Artistic Director of choirs at Evergreen Baptist Church of San Gabriel Valley.

Heeseong Lee is a first-

year DMA Choral Music student originally from Seoul, Korea. Prior to her admission to USC, Heeseong was Director of Bareum Immanuel Church Choir and assistant conductor of The Little Harmony at the Seoul Art Center. Currently she serves as assistant conductor of the USC University Chorus.

James Moursund is a first-year graduate student

pursuing a Master of Music degree in Sacred Music at Thornton. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, he attended Oregon State University in Corvallis, his hometown. James is excited to continue his education with interests in choral conducting, singing, pipe organ, choral composition, and ecclesial service in the Catholic Church. Recreationally he enjoys theological research, cooking, a good game of chess, and a hefty IPA. Originally from Taiwan, YenHsiang Nieh is a secondyear doctoral student in the Choral and Sacred Music Department. Before attending USC, Nieh won numerous prizes in international choir competitions. He is currently the director of the TMC Culture & Arts Foundation in Taiwan, and is the lead director of the USC University Chorus. Nieh’s composition, Ave Maria (2010) was recently chosen as one of the compulsory pieces for the 2019 Taipei International Choir Competition.

Scott Rieker (ABD) is

currently serving as the Interim Director of Choral Activities at Frostburg State University in Western Maryland, where he conducts the auditioned Chamber Singers and Vocal Jazz Ensemble, as well as the non-auditioned University Chorale. He also teaches courses in Music Education and Conducting. Highlights of the year included two performances by the FSU Choral Artists and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and winter concerts that included masterworks by Stravinsky and Boulanger. Rieker is completing his dissertation this year, studying the effect of strategic risk-taking by ensemble members in the pursuit of musical excellence.

Paderewski Lecture-Recital. As partial completion of his vocology elective field, Andrew and his vocal practicum cohort contributed to the USC Library Research Guide, The Art and Science of Great Teaching: Celebrating the Legacy of William Vennard. In addition, he presented at the USC Vocal Forum on his vocology directed research topic, The Erosion of Audience Attention. In the Los Angeles community, Andrew continues to serve as the Director of Sanctuary Music at Westwood United Methodist Church and guest tenor section leader for the Zimriyah Chorale.  

Daniel Strychacz (MM ’15)

returned as a DMA student this fall, serving as the lead conductor of the Oriana Choir and the department’s Festival Coordinator. He also works at the National Children’s Chorus as Assistant Conductor of the organization’s Debut Ensemble. In the years between degrees, Daniel was the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, and served as the Director of Children’s Choirs at Cantare Con Vivo, where he oversaw a youth music program of nine choirs. He also conducted multiple choirs after school and at the Conservatory of Vocal and Instrumental Arts High School, an Oakland charter school.

Maura Tuffy is a senior pursuing a double major

in Choral Music and Vocal Arts. This summer, Maura attended the Illinois Bach Academy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a Young Artist, where she worked with Dr. Andrew Megill and members of Fuma Sacra. During her junior year she was selected for the USC Thornton Mentorship Program, and was mentored by Grant Gershon, director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. This year, Maura will serve as choir director for the Concerto Chamber Orchestra at USC, and will be a soloist with the USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble in November.

Andrew Schultz is a third-

year choral music DMA teaching assistant assigned to instructing MUCD 340 Choral Conducting I. In the spring, he served as tour manager and assistant director for the USC Thornton Chamber Singers tour to Estonian, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. This fall, Andrew continued his Polish music focus conducting the Chamber Singers on works by Szymanowski and Paderewski as assistant conductor for the USC Polish Music Center concert “Sounds of Independence,”

Keep Us Up to Date Tell USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music about your latest activities and accomplishments. We would like to include you in next year’s newsletter.

Don’t forget to update your contact information with the USC Alumni Office to stay informed of Department of Choral and Sacred Music happenings.

Send your news to the Department of Choral and Sacred Music Newsletter Coordinator: uschoral@usc.edu 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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Support Us

To demonstrate your support for the Department of Choral and Sacred Music at USC Thornton, make your gift by texting to give today. See page 8 for details. 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 giveto.usc.edu 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.


To the 2018 Choral and Sacred Music Graduates Jacob Broussard, BACM Allison Cheng, MM Nathan Fryml, DMA Guillermo Gonzales, BACM Supitcha Kansirisin, MM Karen Miskell, DMA Geetha Somayajula, BACM

NEW APPOINTMENTS Dr. Coreen Duffy has been appointed Interim Director of Choral Activities at The University of Montana Dr. John St. Marie has been appointed Director of Choral Activities at Nicholls State University in Louisiana Kory Reid (MM) has returned to his role as a member of the professional chorus Chanticleer after a year of serving as a choral director at Napa High School. Scott Rieker has been appointed Interim Director of Choral Activities at Frostburg State University.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Department of Choral and Sacred Music Faculty & Staff 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 Tram Sparks, DMA, Sacred Music and Conducting Mary Mattei, Choral Voice Lisa Sylvester, DMA, Diction Lynn Helding, Vocology Cherry Rhodes, Organ Studies James Vail, DMA, Professor Emeritus David Wilson, DMA, Professor Emeritus Woody Gatewood, Departmental Administrator Micah Bland, Editor Layout and design by Jason Saunders 18

We are grateful to the following individuals who have made contributions to the USC Thornton Department of Choral and Sacred Music since July 1, 2014. Anonymous Debora Lee Huffman Roberto Amico Dr. David and Carol Hughes Victor Apanovitch Evan Michael Hughes Guy Arcuri Austin Hunt Elizabeth Armour Dr. Robert Michael Istad Kristin and Larry Ball Vicki and Grant K. Iwata Robin Barger Dr. Buddy Oscar James William P. and Mary Orr Bausano Dr. Stephen A. Kanter Beitel Family Fund Dr. Lawrence Kaptein and Ellen Katherine E. Belshe Brock Roberta Bissell Daniel Benjamin Keller Donald L. Brinegar Howard Kern Dr. Jayne Campbell Lee Robert Kesselman Genaro F. Carapia Richard Lee Kirtland III James and Martha Childs Steve Choongwoo Ko and his Drs. Vivian Chui and Kenneth Lam Parents Seungseop Ko and Michael Council Youngsook Lee Ko Stacy D. and Derrick E. Cox Danielle and Jeffrey Kolesnik Kellie A. and Aaron N. Custino Vinette Kopetz Dr. Marge Moh-Wei Chen-Hribar Carol and Guy Kroesche Dr. Stephen Coker Dr. Darlene Lawrence and William Maureen L. Condic and H. Joseph Hatcher Yost The Samuel Lawrence Foundation Dr. Harold A. Daugherty Jr. Daniel Lee Lin Zhao Davison and Brian G. Frances Lee Davison Lesley Leighton Janice and John Dawson Dr. Iris Sue Levine Marcia Deem Kathy and Robert Lo Angel Delgadillo Mary Ju Fang Lo Nicole Michelle Debbini Hazel and James Lord David Devine Dr. Marguerite Marsh Gayle A. and Larry S. Dickenson The Honorable Edwin K. Marzec Dr. Coreen Sylvia Duffy Joan Mattei Cindy Duncan Mary and William Mays Pamela J. and Timothy D. Eager Dr. Stanley R. McDaniel Stephen J. Edwards Drs. John and Patricia McIntyre Rodney Eichenberger Dr. David L. Means Jane George and Alan Erlbaum Dr. Donald B. and Mary C. Miller Josslyn Fahrni Professor Kristine Monroe and Steve Ficek David Monroe Elizabeth Molly Flier Richard Moran Nathan Fryml Shirley and John G. Morgan James P. Gagnon Dr. Wyant and Sarah Morton Karen Garcia Garrett Joann and Edward Mokslaveskas Susan Gerling Gisela M. Munoz Grant W. Gershon and Elissa M. Dr. Sarah A. Latier Napier Johnston Gail and Roy Nagaoka Leonard Gill Kullanit Nitiwarangkul Noreen Ellen Green The Donald and Alice Noble Ann M. Guerra Foundation Jazimine Harnishfeger-Brand Mr. Lanny J. Noveck and Ms. Mary Dr. Todd J. Harper and Connie C. Anna Noveck Kim Christine Marie Ofiesh James H. Harter Gitanjali and Jai Pathak Billy Haygood Kimberly and Pierre Pellissier Linda Helms Anne M. Petrie Margaret P. and Guilbert C. Joy Lynn Phan Hentschke Sheryl and Glenn M. Phillips Anne and Thomas E. Hill Cuc T. Phung and Thong H. Barbara A. and Wayne Nguyen Hirabayashi Pawasut Piriyapongrat Nancy and James Holland The Plotkin Foundation


USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music Robert K. Rasmussen and Rebecca L. Brown Dr. Doyle C. Preheim Lorna Reed Dana Stoike Riccard Jolene Riley Thomas B. Ringland Rebecca Rodman Dr. Eunice E. Rixman Loreen and Leslie Sakai Rose F. Sapia Margaret and Christopher Saranec Virginia Sato and Raymond Bates Mary and Jo-Michael Scheibe Jack Wayne Schwarz Dr. Sara G. Shakliyan Betty-Jean L. Sherwin Delton Davis Shilling Nicole Singer Jeffrey R. Slottow Virginia and Thomas Somerville Tram N. Sparks Dr. Ethan L. Sperry Renee Joan Stanley

Alison Stirland and David Crellin Christian D. Stendel Michael Joseph Straw Toni and Nick Strimple Elizabeth A. Swensen Elisa Singer Strom Rachel Gershona Surden Town and Gown of USC Michael L. Tenzer Elizabeth Turner Teresa and Harold Twilley Leslie J. and Jeffrey B. Unger Barbara and James Harold Vail Christine L. VanderLeest Gregory Wait Carol M. Walker Ruth and Dale Warland Clint Washington Ella L. Weiler Adlai Wertman John Wiscombe Joan M. Wismer Janice Lynn Wyma Virginia L. and David W. Yoder

FEBRUARY Sunday, February 24 Chamber Singers and Concert Choir present: “Awakening New Sounds” All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena − 5:00 PM Free Admission, suggested donation: $15 freewill offering To reserve tickets call 213-821-5756 or email uschoral@usc.edu APRIL Sunday, April 7 Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir present: “Open Your Heart and Sing” Alfred Newman Recital Hall – 7:00 PM Free Admission, reservations required To reserve tickets call 213-821-5756 or email uschoral@usc.edu Friday, April 12 University Chorus presents: “Colors of the World” St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral – 7:30 PM Tickets $5 (Cash and Check only) purchase at the door, general admission. Sunday, April 14 Lux Aeterna by Lauridsen Walt Disney Hall – 7:30 PM Ticket and concert information can be found at laphil.com


Thursday, April 25 BA Choral Majors Conduct the Concert Choir Jeanette MacDonald Recital Hall – 2:00 PM Free Admission Friday, April 26 BA Choral Lab Concert Jeanette MacDonald Recital Hall – 3:00 PM Free Admission Saturday, April 27 Mozart Requiem with Chamber Singers and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Alex Theater − 8:00 PM Ticket and concert information can be found at laco.org

The level of musicianship and artistry in USC Thornton’s Department of Choral and Sacred Music continues at an exceptional level and has recently been featured in the release of three compact discs. Legacy: Sixty Years of the USC Chamber Singers features recordings spanning sixty years of the USC Chamber Singers, under the direction of Charles Hirt, Rodney Eichenberger, James Vail, William Dehning, Paul Salamunovich, and Jo-Michael Scheibe. I Have Had Singing presents some of the finest recordings of the Chamber Singers from the past five years. The newest CD, Brightest and Best, A Winter Gala features all of the USC Choral Artists in an array of holiday music. This CD was produced in conjunction with the annual A Winter Gala: Brightest and Best Scholarship Fundraiser concert.

Sunday, April 28 Mozart Requiem with Chamber Singers and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Royce Hall − 7:00 PM Ticket and concert information can be found at laco.org

If you would like your own copy of Legacy or I Have Had Singing, please make a donation to the Department of Choral and Sacred Music. You will be helping to ensure the continued traditional of excellence for future generations and receive a great recording. Brightest and Best, A Winter Gala can be purchased through the USC Bookstore, both in their retail locations and online. Profits go to provide scholarships. For more information, contact department coordinator Woody Gatewood at woodygatewood@thornton.usc.edu or 213-821-5756. Your legacy awaits.

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Flora L. Thornton School of Music University of Southern California Department of Choral and Sacred Music Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851

join us at the

2019 acda national conference Kansas City, MO Feb. 27-Mar. 2, 2019

You are invited to attend the USC Choral and Sacred Music reception at the ACDA National Conference. County Road Ice House (2919, 100 E 14th St, Kansas City, MO 64106) Thursday, February 28, 2019, 10:00 PM Appetizers provided; no host bar. Please RSVP by emailing uschoral@gmail.com.

Profile for USC Thornton School of Music

2019 USC Thornton Dept. of Choral & Sacred Music Newsletter  

2019 USC Thornton Dept. of Choral & Sacred Music Newsletter