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dr. william john dehning


FROM THE CHAIR...................................................3 ENSEMBLE ACTIVITIES............................................ 4 PILLAR OF LEADERSHIP.......................................... 6 NOBLE FOUNDATION LECTURE SERIES.......................7 GIVING BACK........................................................ 9 IN MEMORIAM...................................................... 9 DR. WILLIAM JOHN DEHNING................................ 10 FACULTY NEWS.................................................... 13 ALUMNI NEWS..................................................... 15 STUDENT NEWS................................................... 18 YOUR WORK WILL SAVE LIVES................................20 UPCOMING EVENTS.............................................. 23

from the



A Long-Awaited Announcement


ith the passing of William Dehning (MM ’67, DMA ’71; Choral Music), the choral world and the Trojan family have lost an iconic figure. His scholarship, his musicianship, and his leadership have left a legacy at USC Thornton that will last as a testament for years to come. Each chair of the department puts their own stamp on its direction. Charles Hirt established USC as an a renowned center for choral music. Rodney Eichenberger brought the craft of conducting and tone production to an unparalleled level. Dehning raised the profile of the institution and program around the world. I, too, hope to have served as caretaker and a chair who advanced our legacy of excellence. The past twelve months have been filled with a variety of accomplishments by members and alumni of the Department of Choral and Sacred Music. Our BA program in Choral Music has reached its cap of six students per year, and we continue to—sadly—turn away many highly-qualified applicants. Numerous alumni and faculty presented and/or performed at the National American Choral Directors Association Conference (ACDA) in Minneapolis, and USC Thornton was represented by a large complement of students, including a quartet singing for the ACDA Unity Concert Honor Choir. The USC Thornton University Chorus—a non-auditioned SATB choir open to all USC students, faculty, staff, as well as community members—reached its highest enrollment ever, exceeding 100 members and creating both serious music and a serious difficulty in securing rehearsal space. In 2017, the USC Thornton Concert Choir was accepted for a featured performance at the Western Region ACDA Conference in Pasadena in March 2018, and the USC Thornton Chamber Singers were invited to the Baltics and Poland for an international tour in the spring of 2018. And these accolades are just a fraction of the incredible work the Trojan Family is accomplishing around the world. Excellence is a common thread uniting our accomplishments, but there is another common thread as well: Expense. Running a world-class program in the current economic climate requires an increased reliance on donors. The Noble Foundation, which has generously supported our graduate student recitals for the last six years, has started to decrease its funding and is replacing it with challenge grants to encourage us to fundraise more from our own constituents. The Flora Thornton Fund for Touring is set to expire in 2018 (although a request for renewal is being submitted), to say nothing of the continuing lack of a top-tier performance hall at USC, and current facilities that are some of the oldest (or least-updated) on campus.

It is time to create an endowment for the Department of Choral and Sacred Music, which will provide substantial scholarships for both graduate and undergraduate students, facilitate travel for ensemble performance and individual presentation, underwrite instrumentalists for and recording of graduate student recitals and ensemble performances, as well as provide for the emerging needs of the Department as we enter the third decade of the 2000s. With this financial foundation, the operating budget of the Department can be focused as it should be: on the operation of the department, rather than on ensuring these basic components of our students’ education. Each one of you can help us to accomplish this! Please let me know if you have already included the choral program in your will or trust, so that we may acknowledge your legacy gift and design a plan to fulfill your intentions. If you would like to discuss your options for making a legacy gift to the Choral and Sacred Music program or to learn about naming opportunities within the program, please email me at or call me at (213) 821-5756. You may also contact Dr. A. Phoenix Delgado, Assistant Dean for Advancement for the Thornton School, at or (213) 821-0703. The graduates of the USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music Department have had remarkable success in many realms around the globe and are notoriously generous—for this I thank you! Within the next 10 years, I hope that we can come together to establish an endowment that enshrines our legacy for the future and enables us to continue our significant impact on the music community and the world.

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

ensemble activities In the spring, the USC THORNTON CHAMBER SINGERS performed Michael Tippett’s Five Spirituals with the Inner-City Youth Orchestra and Chorus and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for a concert marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In April, they sang a concert etitled “Prayers and Intercessions” that included selections from USC Thornton alumna Christina Whitten Thomas’s (MM ’05; Composition) Choral de Bêtes, and the American premiere of Johann Naumann’s Psalm 149. “Soundscapes,” an October performance, featured some of the compositions that the Chamber Singers will be performing while on tour in May of 2018 to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The USC THORNTON CONCERT CHOIR started the 2017-2018 school year with exciting news that it has been invited to perform at the 2018 Western Region ACDA conference in Pasadena, the first time the Concert Choir has performed for ACDA since 1984, under the direction of James Vail (’56; DMA ’60). The choir will perform a special program of Latin American Music dedicated to the memory of Maestro Electo Silva (1928-2017). During the spring semester, the choir worked with composers Frank Ticheli on There Will Be Rest and Morten Lauridsen on his Rose Songs. Other engagements included performances at the Pacific Southern Intercollegiate Choral Association (PSICA) Festival and a concert conducted by USC Choral BA students.

The USC Thornton Concert Choir

section name activities 4 ensemble

The men of APOLLO MEN’S CHORUS had an incredible list of achievements during 2017. During 2017, enrollment in Apollo went from 21 to 45. In October, they performed a concert of entirely TTBB music, both accompanied and unaccompanied. The Apollo Men’s Chorus inaugurated what hopefully will be an annual tradition of singing for the Hope Street Family Center non-profit at Dignity Health with the Oriana Women’s Chorus. The men of Apollo are looking forward to the spring semester, which will include a performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody and a workshop for choirs in Palmdale, California.

The Apollo Men’s Chorus performing at the Winter Gala

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 performance of excerpts from Haydn’s Creation, accompanied by a thirtypiece orchestra under the direction of Shou-Ping Liu. The fall program, entitled “Revolutionary Road,” presented a musical journey through America’s rich history of choral music with narration from Brian Lauritzen of KUSC, under the direction of DMA students Andrew Schultz and YenHsiang Nieh, and MM student Supitcha Kansirisin. Once again, 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.

The highlight of the spring semester for the ORIANA WOMEN’S CHOIR was an outreach performance entitled “Singing for Hope” at Dignity Health hospital in downtown Los Angeles, which benefited the Hope Street Family Center, a non-profit that strives to enhance the capacity of parents and families to nurture and care for their children, promotes children’s overall health, development, school readiness and academic achievement and more. To kick off the 2017-2018 school year, Oriana staged a “flash mob.” The Oriana Women’s Choir’s October concert featured works by Britten, Emma Lou Diemer, Vaughan Williams, and Bernstein.

The Oriana Women’s Choir

ensemble activities



Recognizing Jo-Michael Scheibe’s tenth year as chair of the Department of Choral and Sacred Music, this column features insights from accomplished alumni who work in the realms of Community Colleges, Community Choirs, and Music Ministry. This multi-faceted approach highlights the incredible work done by our alumni in areas that tend to be less frequently recognized.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES Joanna Medawar Nachef

(MM ’83, DMA ’88, Choral Music)

In the spring of 1977, I was an 18 year-old college freshman, sitting in a conducting class at El Camino Community College in Torrance, California. I listened with admiration as the professor recalled, “My USC doctoral recital made me a nervous wreck!” Jane Hardester (DMA ’76; Choral Music), a pioneer in American choral music, was one of the leading female conductors and founding member of ACDA. Amid wondering how one could get a doctorate in choral conducting—especially a Lebanese international student—my conducting journey began. My first assignment was to conduct The Star Spangled Banner. A few stanzas into the anthem, Hardester abruptly stopped me, saying, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” I was 6 pillar of leadership

new, from Lebanon; I must have looked very scared as I introduced myself. She immediately responded, “Don’t look so perplexed. You have a natural talent for conducting.” I left El Camino for a short time when my family returned to Lebanon, where I gathered a group of young people from local churches and conducted a Christmas concert. Eventually, the heated civil war in Lebanon impelled my family to return to California permanently. By the spring of 1981, with a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from CSUDH, I started my graduate journey in music with piano emphasis at USC. Again, I stepped into a choral conducting class and was told by David Wilson, “You have a natural talent to be conductor.” By 1985, I had completed a Master’s Degree in Church Music and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Music. The Choral Department during my five years at USC offered me the ultimate learning experience. Rodney Eichenberger, James Vail, and David Wilson— three legendary professors—shaped my life as a conductor and inspired me as a musician. My choral journey was made complete by my amazing classmates, who have become legends in their own right. I believe it was God’s ultimate plan to bring me full-circle, back to El Camino College—to the program Hardester founded—to continue USC’s choral legacy. I serve as El Camino College’s Director of Choral Activities, the same position Hardester held for almost three decades. Since 1996, I have been sitting at the same desk she used in the same office she occupied, teaching the same classes she taught. My mission is to be an inspiration to my students, as she was to me. Her motto was: “I can’t, I have a rehearsal!”, while mine has been: “Life is a performance and not a rehearsal!”


Iris Levine

(DMA ’90; Choral Music) I am one of those people who knew very little about choral music in my formative years. I had no idea who Charles Hirt or Roger Wagner or Robert Shaw were. I didn’t know what SATB or SSA meant or even what the movements were in a traditional mass. My parents did not sing, and I was not surrounded by choral music in any way. I grew up in a Jewish home in a suburb of Boston. I went to public school, and in high school, I sang in

the choir my sophomore year. When our choir director retired, the administration assigned our guidance counselor—who had a music minor— to teach choir. I offered to be the accompanist, and I quickly learned how to teach parts, create line, give cues, and more (from the piano). After graduating from college, I went to Israel to enter a work/study program on a kibbutz, where I was asked to substitute for the choir director who took ill. I was barely learning the language and yet I was directing the kibbutz choir in Hebrew! This was my first “post” as a community choir director. In 1986, I moved to Los Angeles to enter the DMA program in Choral Music at USC. I will always be grateful for a “chance” meeting with Lynn Bielefelt, where she said, “Take a leap of faith, Iris,” and convinced me to study at USC. My time at USC—with Rod Eichenberger, James Vail, David Wilson, and Morten Lauridsen as my primary teachers— was like heaven. Right away I was told that I should get a church job, but I chose to work with a community choir instead, and it was the best decision for me. Over the next several years, I directed numerous community choirs, and each of them had a significant impact on me and my career path. The biggest impact, by far, was when a dear friend and colleague asked me to start a women’s community choir in Los Angeles. Boldly, I “jumped in with both feet,” not realizing I was in the far end of the pool. It seemed that with every turn there was a new question, and as one question was answered, more arose. In spite of the challenges, for the past 20 years, I have been the Founding Artistic Director of VOX Femina Los Angeles, a successful women’s community choir whose impact has been tremendous and

far-reaching. In many ways, I have had the privilege of sharing my knowledge and being a role model for the next generation of women’s choir conductors. Recently, I queried my singers as to why they sang in VOX, one of whom replied: “I came for the music and stayed for the fabulous people! I find it amazing to reach such musical heights with awesome women.” Working with a community choir can be a vehicle for joy, excitement, passion, and fun—all rolled together. You meet incredible people along the way and potentially create a community that changes lives for all involved. It changed my life, and I am forever grateful.


Michael Shasberger

(DMA ’83; Choral Music) Music Ministry in twenty-first century American culture represents a wide scope of oftchanging possibilities, from the growing array of musical styles and diverse cultural encounters that present themselves, to the narrowest paths of musical taste and individual pursuits found in some settings. This can be true across the range of musical styles and religious traditions. Both the lone “worship leader” singing an everchanging repertoire of contemporary choruses with guitar—sometimes in conjunction with a headset-wearing drummer and bass

guitarist—and the sequestered organist, whose only interaction with others is the obligatory anthem accompaniment that distracts them from the refined art of hymn accompaniment and ornamented service music, work largely in isolation. By contrast the minster of music in a large contemporary church of any musical persuasion may direct multiple choirs of multiple age ranges, work with multiple praise bands of and for multiple generations, conduct multiple community music ensembles hosted or sponsored by the church, run a highly public community arts series, work with private music teachers to offer instruction to children using church facilities, and relate to numerous musical connections to provide for all styles of worship,

a variety of social services, and numerous outreach ministries. It certainly seems, however, that effectiveness in the wider range of endeavors is ever-more critical to the success of a church music program that—usually by necessity—seeks to engage broad and diversely experienced constituencies as denominational affiliations weaken and cultural church attendance fades in our society. The most significant keys to success for the twenty-first century church musician therefore range beyond the realm of musical skills into entrepreneurial and interpersonal abilities, possibly including the ability to raise funds in non-traditional ways and certainly to reach out to people representing a wide range of musical interests and experiences. Some paradigms, however, do not seem to have changed. Excellence in any style still begets excellence and attracts more fine musicians to a ministry. Clarity of mission still begets efficiency of effort and makes good use of fiscal and personal resources. Effective communication with pastoral leadership still begets harmony and shared vision in the parish ministry. These factors are enduring and applicable to any music ministry. Leadership founded on these principles and salted with a healthy dose of creativity in response to changing social, economic, cultural, and musical scenarios will yield rewarding results for the leaders and participants in a modern music ministry.

NOBLE FOUNDATION LECTURE SERIES The Department of Choral and Sacred Music benefited from five guest lecturers in 2017. In the spring of 2017, the legendary Joseph Flummerfelt—emeritus Director of Choral Activities at Westminster Choir College—joined the faculty and students of the department to present a lecture in the graduate choral literature class, instruct students in the graduate choral conducting classes, teach individual lessons, and adjudicate the annual Spring High School Invitational and Community College Choir Festival. A significant birthday occurred during his stay at USC, which was duly celebrated with a cake to mark the occasion. Four choral luminaries descended upon the USC Thornton campus during the fall semester of

2017. First, in mid-September, the Department of Choral and Sacred Music again welcomed former professor Rodney Eichenberger. Eichenberger assisted in the Choral Conducting class, lectured in Choral Development, and offered feedback to the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir during their weekly rehearsals. Recognized expert in the choral music of the Arab world, Cari Earnhart, presented a well-attended lecture on her specialty during the Graduate Choral Literature III class. In October, André Thomas, visiting to lead the annual Choral Leadership Workshop and adjudicate the Fall Community College Choir Festival, captivated nearly 50 students, faculty, and community members in a two-hour presentation on the origins of and performance

practice for spirituals. Also in October, María Guinand—internationally renowned conductor and expert in the music of Latin America— presented a broad-based lecture on the performance of Latin American music. This visit was presented in conjunction with the LA Master Chorale, who hosted Guinand for their Día de los Muertos concert. The spring semester of 2018 has another tempting line-up of world-class presenters, including Ann Howard Jones, Z. Randall Stroope, and Craig Hella Johnson. We gratefully acknowledge the funding for these visiting scholars provided in part by the Noble Foundation.

noble foundation lecture series



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As a proud native of Los Angeles, California, who dreamed of attending USC, I sang in a choral ensemble for four years while attending a public high school in Whittier, California. While I have never received professional musical training, I have always had a love for music of all kinds, with a special place in my heart for choral music. Unfortunately, I never thought about trying out for a USC choral ensemble while I was there. (One never knows what might have happened!) Still, many years later, I fell in love with USC’s Department of Choral and Sacred Music, and I soon discovered that they have a world-class choral faculty who are able to train both undergraduate and graduate students to be the best in their fields. These students have received and will continue to receive an exceptionally highquality education as well as experiencing many amazing pre-professional opportunities throughout their education at USC. The Choral and Sacred Music Department in the USC Thornton School of Music has long been an innovator and leader in the development of graduate degree programs, educational and professional collaborations, and highcaliber performances on the world’s To learn more about giving to USC Thornton choirs, contact the Thornton Advancement Office at (213) 740-6474 or

largest stages, and Jo-Michael Scheibe has achieved quite an impressive list of accomplishments by the USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music Program since his arrival as chair in 2008. It is interesting to note that the University Chorus had over 100 members this past spring, which is the most they have had since the ensemble was reestablished. Furthermore, the department continues to have a record number of qualified applicants for the Bachelor of Arts in Choral Music; more than they are able to accept. Not only have I attended so many of the Department’s events, but I have also financially supported it as much as possible, and plan to continue to do so as long as I am able. I am consistently in awe of their accomplishments (singing, conducting, writing, arranging, etc.) and the professionalism of this fine group of students. Imagine how wonderful it would be if we were able to build an endowment to support and alleviate the financial burden for all of USC’s choral students! Imagine: it would also be an amazing dream to be able to secure gifts for a new building, a performance hall, and expanded facilities! This will provide each and every one of us with personal dividends for years to come. The best and the easiest thing we can do for our university and our choral department is to be cheerleaders and proud alumni. My mantra and passion have always been to give back to our university—not only with our money, but also with our time, which will help support the next generation of students and

Philanthropist Christine Marie Ofiesh (‘74, Dornsife) received the USC Alumni Volunteer Service Award in 2014, and has been a member of the Widney Society since its inception in 2012. She received the USC Widney Alumni House Volunteer Award in 2009.

alumni. Every action can enrich a student’s education and provide them with more opportunities than were originally thought possible I continue to encourage my fellow alumni—even though they might not have graduated from USC Thornton—to open up their hearts. Realize how important it is to support our wonderful, world-class Choral and Sacred Music Department. Every gift counts, no matter the size, and these gifts are truly valued. The expense of an top-tier education at USC is not going to get smaller. In order for these wonderful students and outstanding faculty to thrive, our Department of Choral and Sacred Music needs everyone’s financial support!

I N MEMORIAM Roger Winter (MM ’85; Choral Music) was remembered at a memorial service at Panorama Presbyterian Church on Sunday, July 30. He worked at Panorma Presbyterian Church for over 25 years and also worked primarily as a psychologist in Pasadena. A Commemorative Hymn Sing was held on his birthday, November 4.

Bonnie Pumphrey (MM ’81, Choral Music) passed away on July 22, 2016. She taught music for 40 years, touching many lives at schools and churches including an elementary school in her home town of Rantoul, IL, Valle Vista and Whittier Elementary Schools in Hemet, CA, Dartmouth Middle School in Hemet, Hemet High School, Mt. San Jacinto Community College, and the First Presbyterian Church in Hemet.

giving back • in memoriam 9

Dr. William John Dehning Dr. William John Dehning, 74, passed away on June 23, 2017. Dehning spent his early childhood in northern Minnesota with his brother, mother, cousins, aunts and uncles, but left for California at age 13 to live with his father and step-mother. He attended Arroyo High School in El Monte, California, and received a full scholarship to study engineering at UCLA. He quickly realized he was meant to be a musician and finished his degree at UCLA in music education (having studied trumpet and French horn). After a few successful stints as a church choir director in the Hollywood area, Dehning decided to pursue a choral conducting (sacred music) degree at the University of Southern California with the renowned Charles Hirt. He quickly became Hirt’s protégé and would go on to finish his MM and DMA in Sacred Music with highest honors from the University of Southern California. In 1964, he married Margaret ( Joplin) Dehning of San Fernando, California, with whom he raised two

daughters, forged his career, and had many wonderful adventures. In 2008, he married Erin Colwitz (MM ’04, DMA ’07; Choral Music) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, with whom he remained until his death. Dehning’s first tenure-track position was at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, (19701972) where he founded the Marquette Choral Society. From there, he taught at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California (1972 – 1991) and then became Chair of the Choral and Sacred Music Department at the University of Southern California in 1991 until he retired from teaching in 2007. Among his many remarkable career accomplishments is his founding of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) in 2005 with a group of former students that still exists and thrives to this day. He was an active member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and former California ACDA President. He was always opinionated, a tad controversial,

and a forthright champion of his art, particularly the Western choral canon. Foremost, he is known as a master rehearsal technician and a renowned interpreter of J.S. Bach. Upon retirement, Dehning left behind a legacy of teaching that is unparalleled. He was a master teacher, having won multiple teaching awards from two universities. His many ensembles were selected to perform at multiple regional and national ACDA conferences, including seminal performances in San Antonio (1991) and Los Angeles (2005). Dehning also won multiple international performing awards in competition with the USC Chamber Choir. He became known for his evocative choral sound that was bold and colorful and always exciting.

An email from Bill

Dehning was a masterful conductor and won the best conductor award at multiple international competitions. His colleague, David Wilson, called him a “blazing star”; he was larger than life in every sense of the word and his death is a major loss for the choral world.

Dear Ones, I don’t know where to beg in, just end: Thank you very muc so I will weekend. I couldn’t be hap h for last pier with the entire event from start to finis not only professionally rew h. I feel arded, but also personally: Your affectio n for me was so obvious as to be almost embarrassing and almost too muc that I cannot thank you enough h for me to handle at times, especially at the concert. For ; professional respect is one thing, and not to be underrated, but love is quite another, and I am especially grateful for that . Speaking of gratitude, I am in debt to all of you for your time , money and talent…[Rob Ista wonderful words about me at d’s] the concert that almost did me in. I was so overwhelmed by that that I had to stop listening lest I just lose it on the spot. And the aud through the concert was possibly the most profoundly rewarding ience response all the way the tours and the conventions of my career, even if I count . Finally, a special thanks to my group dinner, not to mention her continuing support of me wife for her organization of the through some very difficult time and her sparkling personality s, and love through some very good times. We are a wonderf team. ul It would be great if this could happen again, of course, but even if it doesn’t, I have had eno rewards from this one to last ugh my remaining lifetime, and I cannot thank you enough for contributions to it. your I really do love you all, WD

10 william dehning


As nearly as I can figure, I first met Bill Dehning at the beginning of the spring semester of 1966, when he began his Master’s program with us. Charles Hirt and I were impressed with his academic record—even though he had just received his bachelor’s degree from UCLA!—as well as his personality and infectious enthusiasm. Since the Chamber Singers was limited to just 16, I was more or less obligated to accept all the rest of those who auditioned, so my face lit up during Bill’s audition! I was pleased to accept him as a tenor in the Concert Choir.

A year-and-a-half later, the Concert Choir, had grown to 90 members, so I went to Charles Hirt and then-dean Raymond Kendall and pleaded with them to allow us to quickly form a new group of 30 or 40, which would do good but lessdemanding repertoire, including a few more of the “lighter” repertoire than we typically performed. They agreed, but said, “Who will conduct it? We can’t go out and hire a new faculty member.” To which I responded immediately, “Bill Dehning! I have complete confidence in him.” And so Bill became,

essentially, our department’s first TA. The group, named The Trojan Chorale by Bill and his choir officers, was an almost immediate success. The following fall—in 1968—I had my first sabbatical, and Bill had to prepare the Concert Choir for a choral/orchestral concert, conducted by the great Ingolf Dahl, which included Webern’s Das Augenlicht—a 10-minute, fiercely difficult piece— atonal, 12-tone, abstract, pointillistic. Bill and the Concert Choir tackled it and did it! As you can imagine, I was very happy when the search committee

chose William Dehning to join us as faculty member and chair in 1992. Lauridsen was on the committee, as I recall, and we totally agreed that inviting Bill to join us was indeed the right choice. When Dehning became chair, our earlier relationship as student and teacher became one of chairman and professor, but never did Bill make me feel like he was my boss—even though technically he was. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him those final seven years of my 39 years on the faculty. Above all, I shall always treasure our 51 years of friendship.

followed him. Now Bill did have some missteps…his wardrobe was usually dapper, but he had a habit of wearing extremely ugly, garish, multi-colored ties. I remember audibly gasping as he turned the corner on more than one occasion. (Once, the choir took up a collection and purchased him a Louis Vuitton, cashmere tie…in navy blue…which he dutifully mocked. Why spend that money on a tie when you could buy caviar?) He also loved to drink cheap gin: Boodles! It tasted of rubbing alcohol mixed with 10-year-old Elizabeth Arden drugstore perfume. It was incredibly atrocious. But we drank it with him just to hear his stories. William Dehning shaped more than musical careers. He encouraged students to forge lives of significance;

serving people and music, in that order. Bill taught me it was perfectly acceptable to be authentic in front of people. In a time in my life when I was struggling with my identity, he taught me that I could be a man in my own way—and then he bought me a beer, slapped me on my shoulder, gave me a hug, grabbed the back of my neck, and said “Rob, I’m so glad you’re my buddy. You are all right, man.” He had no idea how significant that moment was in my life—or maybe he did. That’s one of my favorite memories: the two Norwegians, a little too drunk, laughing a little too loudly, discussing Ravel and Bach and Trojan football, and how much we cared about one another. Rest in peace, Bill. I love you, I will forever miss you, and I will do my best to make you proud.

ROBERT ISTAD (DMA ‘06; CHORAL MUSIC) When I heard Bill Dehning’s choir for the first time in 1999, I was astounded. The tone of his ensemble was brilliant and wildly imaginative; the musical details of the score were precise, almost perfect, but never fussy—and yet the chorus exemplified an air of the unpredictable. Listening to Bill’s choir perform was a surprising, exhilarating experience. It was like listening to audible fire or watching an expert acrobat traverse a treacherous canyon with no net. I remember being transfixed, and most importantly, knowing at that moment that I wanted to study with him. I wanted to learn how to capture a ration of that spirit myself. Little did I know that in addition to the formidable musical education he would provide, I would have the opportunity to create and nurture

a lifelong friendship with Bill. Bill and I became colleagues and friends and—in our own way—family. We had wonderful adventures together…whether we were in Europe or at a crappy YMCA camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. Whatever Bill did, he accomplished with wit, charm, and excellence. I loved singing for him, as did my colleagues. Rehearsals comprised the best musical memories I had with him. Bill prepared his score as if it was imprinted on his soul and led an ensemble with the heart of a fivestar general. I never comprehended the musical concepts of precision or articulation or subtlety or elegance until I studied with him. I never truly understood Bach until I sang Bach for him. Consequently, I never understood how to lead until I

william section dehning name 11


It is with great sadness that I learned of Bill’s passing. I had the pleasure of serving on the committee that appointed Bill as Chair. I had known of Bill’s superb work at UOP and with the California Choral Company and was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to join the faculty. Bill quickly established himself as a cherished mentor to our students, a superb colleague to his staff, and a devoted friend. I will never forget the day he called me into his office and shut the door. I wasn’t sure what to expect. In a humble and generous tone he asked if I would conduct the forthcoming production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, as he didn’t think he could master the recitatives. His humility greatly touched me. Even though the concert was dedicated to Charles Hirt, who had recently passed away, Bill insisted I conduct. Bill was that kind of man: a champion for his students, his colleagues, his department, and the entire Trojan family. –David Wilson

Dehning was a powerful influence and one of my most revered mentors during my early college years. He shaped the way I interacted with the arts, helped bring meaning to my craft, and made me fall in love with both the music and the process. His rehearsals were incredibly precise, and the lessons he taught came at me from all directions and linger to this day. He made me feel valuable in Chamber Choir, a prestigious place where I was so easily intimidated by the sheer talent of those around me. He brought out each singer’s individuality while maintaining a powerful and unique unison. I wanted so much to be a part of his world and to see what he saw. For me, Dehning was a

persistent, unrelenting, sympathetic, intellectual, and multi-dimensional technician. His interactions with music were flawless. I can only hope that I made him proud, and that I will continue to make an impact in this world that would make him smile. –Joy Jeng, ’07; English I left USC with an outstanding and comprehensive education, but the reason I came to USC was to study with William Dehning. Music flowed differently through Dehning. He was the vehicle for the music, rather than the driver of the vehicle. Choral music was an almost religious experience. Dehning will be remembered for many things. His quiet kindness. His understated elegance. His ability to make difficult decisions. His way of seeing the potential in his students, like me, when they could not yet see it for themselves. We had a poignant conversation not long after Dehning retired, where he said, “I hope my students are proud. I just want you all to be proud.” This statement, coming from such a private man, really touched me. I answered him truthfully, saying, “I, for one, am extremely proud to be your student.” Well, Dehning, decades later I am still proud, and will forever be proud to have been your student. –Buddy James, DMA ’00; Choral Music Of all my teachers past and present, Dehning has had, without a doubt, the greatest impact. I sang in the USC Chamber Choir and his choral conducting class from 2004-2007. So much of how I feel about music comes from Dehning, and so many of my most wonderful memories from USC come from the

time I spent with the Chamber Choir. He inspired us to work hard, because of the way he talked about music. He made us a team. We laughed hard, worked hard, listened to each other, saw him get angry, felt profound feelings, celebrated together, and made some of the most incredible music of my life. After graduating from USC, I went on to get a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and sang with symphonies and opera companies all over the world. I wouldn’t have been the musician I am to day were it not for Dehning. A teacher like him only comes once in a lifetime. I am so grateful to him for all he gave me. –Carin Gilfry; ’07, Vocal Arts William Dehning has had an enormous impact on my life—it’s difficult to even put into words. So much laughter, love, learning, and hard work in rehearsals you wished would never end; visiting parts of the world I thought I’d never see, bringing audiences to elation and tears, and all with people who would become my lifelong friends; rising up off the floor and out of my body during a memorized performance of “Singet” for ACDA at Disney Hall in 2005...for all of this: thank you, Bill. –Matthew Brown You wouldn’t want me to blubber away or publicly glorify you (though you really deserve it), but you know how I feel. You ruined me for life when you accepted me into A Cappella Choir my freshman year by feeding me steady dose of Bach, Brahms, Britten, Monteverdi, Distler, Musgrave, and such. If you thought you could go quietly, well, you’re wrong. All over the world, people you’ve touched one way or another will be thinking of all sorts of music, and it will be a cacophony accompanying you to wherever you think you’re going. And, just as I can never get rid of you, you can never be rid of me either. So there! –Aya Ueda

section dehning name 12 william

I learned so much from Bill... albeit from afar. I got to know him at NCCO in Fort Collins. He was so gracious to my college kids who had performed there. He made a point to literally speak to the whole choir after their performance. Then we sat in the hotel bar and literally begged him to talk about choral music. And he obliged. –Robert Taylor Dehning’s teachings live on through you [Ethan Sperry], and continue to influence the lives of countless singers and conductors for years to come. Those teachings have already changed me, and I am a better musician because of his influence. I’m proud and grateful to be a “grand-student” of William Dehning! –Jason Sabino ’13




Jo-Michael Scheibe (DMA ’85; Choral Music), Chair of the Thornton Department of Choral and Sacred Music, recently completed a week-long residency conducting the Pohang City Choir in Pohang, South Korea. Scheibe is the first non-Korean conductor of the ensemble since its founding 40 years ago. The Pohang City Choir is a 45-member ensemble; one of 33 full-time, professional choirs in South Korea. The residency concluded with a sold-out gala concert in Pohang, featuring choral masterpieces, as well as two works specially commissioned for the choir by Hye Young Cho.

Jo-Michael Scheibe CHAIR

Jo-Michael Scheibe continues to maintain a more-than-full teaching load at USC Thornton while also serving as a conductor a clinician around the world. In 2017, he conducted for events, including the Pohang Music Festival, the Salzburg Music Festival, and the ACDA Summer Conference, as well as presenting at the ACDA National Conference. During the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference in March of 2017, the fourth edition of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir was released by GIA Publications, of which Scheibe served as editor and a contributor. During that same conference, Scheibe completed his term as the Chair of the ACDA Past Presidents’ Council. Scheibe is looking forward with great anticipation to 2018, when he will collaborate on two performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, as well as a performance of Craig Hella Johnson’s passion oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard.

Nick Strimple PROFESSOR Under Dr. Strimple’s direction, the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale performed six concerts, including a concert of music by Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl, sponsored by the Schoenberg family. In February, he gave his annual Holocaust lectures at Tascosa High School (Amarillo, TX). In April, he was in residence at Cambridge University (Queens’ College), gave three Holocaust lectures, and conducted a lecture/concert with Cambridge students. In May, he conducted a lecture/concert with London Voices for the Pure Land Lecture Series in London. In the fall, he gave composition master classes at the Beverly Hills International Music Festival and served as High Holidays Music Director at Adat Ari El in North Hollywood. Dr. Strimple completed four new compositions this year. His edition of the Holocaust song Byt Svetem Vladla was published by Pavane. His Fantasy Variations (Chorale and Deconstruction) was premiered by organist Weicheng Zhou in May. During the year, his

music was performed by ensembles around the country, including the USC University Chorus, USC Oriana Choir, The Golden Bridge, Tonality, Riverside Church (NYC), Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, and numerous other churches, synagogues, and performing organizations.

Cristian Grases ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Cristian Grases and María Guinand conducted a concert at Carnegie Hall celebrating renowned Venezuelan composer Alberto Grau’s 80th birthday. Grases conducted one of Grau’s early major works entitled La Doncella for mixed choir and orchestra, and María Guinand premiered Grau’s latest work, entitled La Avispa Brava for children’s choir and orchestra. During the World Symposium for Choral Music, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, Grases was reelected to the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) and was elected to as Vice-President representing the Latin American region of IFCM’s Executive Committee. During 2017, Grases led workshops and clinics nationally and internationally and has been commissioned to write new works for the Florida All-State Middle-School Choir and the Miami Children’s Choir, among others. Under Grases’s direction, the Thornton Concert Choir was invited to perform at the American Choral Directors Association Western Region Conference in Pasadena. They will perform a Latin American a cappella set in honor of the passing of Cuban Maestro Electo Silva.

Distinguished Professor Morten Lauridsen was the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation “Life In Music Award,” presented to him at New York’s Lincoln Center in December of 2016. He also received the USC Associates Award for Creative Expression, the highest honor the university faculty bestows upon its members for distinguished artistic achievements. As Honorary Artistic President of INTERKULTUR/World Choir Games, Lauridsen presented workshops and adjudicated at choral festivals in Monterey, California, and Princeton, New Jersey. He also served as Artist in Residence at Utah State University, Portland State University, and King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Choral Department Adjunct Professor Suzi Digby and The Golden Bridge Ensemble premiered Lauridsen’s new setting of Pablo Neruda’s sonnet, “Ya eres mia,” and the Los Angeles Master Chorale celebrated the 20th anniversary of the premiere of his Lux Aeterna with three performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, conducted by Thornton alumnus Grant Gershon. A CD of his art songs, entitled Prayer, was released in the fall, and Lauridsen traveled to Austria during the summer to record a CD of his choral music with the Chamber Choir of Europe and I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Nicol Matt for Deutsche Grammophon.

Tram Sparks ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Tram Sparks teaches courses in Choral and Sacred Music—Graduate Choral Conducting III/IV, Choral Conducting II, Cantata and Oratorio, Hymnology, private conducting lessons, recital supervision, and dissertation committee work. In the past year, Sparks worked as a clinician with several high school and community college choirs during their USC and Los Angeles tours. In March 2018, Sparks will present an interest session at the ACDA Western Region Conference, entitled “Music as Movement & Movement as Music: Dance Theory for Choral Conductors,” focusing on Graham Technique™ as a movement philosophy for conducting.

GRASES ELECTED TO EXECUTIVE BOARD OF IFCM During the Tenth World Symposium on Choral Music, which took place in Barcelona, Spain during the summer of 2017, Cristian Grases was elected to the Executive Council for the International Federation for Choral Music. The IFCM serves as the the umbrella organization for all other choral music associations world-wide. Grases serves as one of four VicePresidents, two from Europe (France and Hungary), one from the United States, and Grases from Latin America. The executive board (pictured) in comprised of representatives from 12 different nations from around the world. faculty news 13


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, 2017, he began his 58th year as organist of the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, California. A highlight of professional activities during the year was his participation in the 2017 Shanghai Conservatory of Music International Organ Festival, from September 12–17. He taught three masterclasses and several private lessons at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in Shanghai, China. 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 had an exceptionally busy 2017. He led choral conducting workshops in Melbourne, Australia, Alexandria, Virginia, and Seaside, Oregon. Eichenberger presented at both the Montana and Oregon ACDA conventions and was a visiting lecturer at Azuza Pacific University, the University of Eastern New Mexico, Oregon State University, USC Thornton, George Fox University, California State University–Long Beach, Mira Costa High School, and Loma Linda Academy.


The year 2017 was another musically active one for James Vail (professor 19611999), who continues to play and/or play and conduct as a substitute in various churches. In February he was one of seven organists featured for the annual Presidents’ Day Organ Festival of the LA Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, where he played the opening recital. On June 25, his Laudamus Te Singers joined forces with the choir of Pacific Palisades Presbyterian to present Mendelssohn’s Elijah. As he did in his first several performances of the work many years ago, Vail played and conducted the work from the organ console. In September, he played a noon recital on the magnificent Dobson organ at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the ninth he has given there since the Cathedral opened in LA in 2003. Finally, on November 19 he conducted Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with his L.T. Singers, the choir of St. Bede’s Episcopal, Mar Vista, and orchestra.


This year David Wilson set three goals: 1. continue developing the music program at Christ Presbyterian Church, where he is Director of Music,

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STRIMPLE PRESENTS ON PROGRAMMING HOLOCAUST MUSIC Internationally acclaimed as an expert in the music of the Holocaust, Nick Strimple (MM ’73, Sacred Music; DMA ’76, Choral Music) presented an interest session at the 2017 California ACDA Summer Conference entitled “Singing in the Lion’s Mouth: Programming Holocaust-Related Music.” This session addressed the complex issues surrounding this topic, as well as guidance for effective programming and examples of common pitfalls. 2. accept more opportunities to guest-conduct, lecture, and promote his book The Dresden Manuscripts: Unearthing an 18th Century Musical Genius, and 3. master the cello. He accomplished two of the three. The church music program at Christ Presbyterian Church now boasts a Chancel Choir of 55, a Handbell Choir, and two children’s choirs. His book lecture tours took him to Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, Charleston, South Carolina, Denver, Salt Lake City and Seattle. In 2018, he will conduct Hasse’s Mass in D minor in Eastern Europe, and has accepted an invitation to lecture at the Hasse Museum in Bergdorf, Germany. He has yet to master the cello, but will not give up trying. He enjoys hearing about the many accomplishments of Thornton faculty, students and alumni. Contact him at


Professor Emeritus at Pasadena City College, Donald Brinegar, conducted honor choirs and masterclasses (conducting, voice, and historical tuning practices) in New York, Washington, DC, Nashville, Arizona, Nevada, and throughout California this past year. The Donald Brinegar Singers performed with Michael Feinstein, Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, and the Pasadena POPS in June. In the spring of 2018, Brinegar will return to Washington, DC, Utah, Thailand, and Costa Rica for masterclasses. In the summer, he will conduct the San Bernardino Symphony and the Donald Brinegar Singers in a semi-staged performance of Candide. A twentieth anniversary concert of the Donald Brinegar Singers takes place in 2018 with a performance of Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. Brinegar continues to conduct the JPL Chorus, serve as Director of Choruses for the Pasadena Symphony, and is the Associate Director of the Three-Summer Masters in Choral Conducting at CSULA.


Former Choral and Sacred Music Department faculty member Magen Solomon has had a wonderful year both professionally and personally. She continues to direct the UC–Berkeley Chamber Chorus. Solomon is in her 23rd season with the San Francisco Choral Artists, which has crossed the 300-worldpremieres mark, and the SF Bach Choir is experiencing great success. Solomon was married in July and took a bicycle-barge trip with her spouse from Amsterdam to Bruge. Solomon continues to edit the “New Voices in Research” column for the Choral Journal and encourages those who are finishing dissertations to send her

articles. She invites Choral and Sacred Music graduates to keep in touch (magen.solomon@ As Solomon never became a Facebook user, she extends a “Thank you to the many who sent good wishes to the Facebook post about our wedding! I was so happy to hear from you and also to see so many of you at Chorus America. Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and productive year.”


Lisa Sylvester served as Acting Chair of the Vocal Arts Department at the Thornton School of Music during the spring semester of 2017. She performed the world premiere of Juliana Hall’s song cycle A World turned Upside Down with soprano Kathleen Roland at the Song Collaborators Consortia conference in March 2017. Lisa returned to Verona, Italy, as faculty vocal coach at the Opera Viva! summer training program, where she worked with young singers on Italian operatic and sacred repertoire. In addition to her duties on the faculty of the Vocal Arts and Choral Music Departments at Thornton, she also is Music Director at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Altadena. On October 28, she organized and hosted CollabFest@ USC—a day-long symposium on keyboard collaborative arts. In the evening’s culminating recital, she premiered a new work by Alan L. Smith for soprano, violin, and piano entitled And With Such Boldness.


Lynn Helding continues to enjoy the two new voice science courses she created to revitalize the USC Thornton voice pedagogy curriculum: Foundations in Vocology and Voice Pedagogy Practicum for graduate students. Helding was guest masterteacher at Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s, Canada) and the University of Alabama, where she also presented lectures on her forthcoming book The Mindful Musician: Learning, Teaching, and Performing in the Age of Brain Science (Rowman & Littlefield, anticipated January, 2019). She was the first guest on the newly inaugurated webinar series for SNATS (Student National Association of Teachers of Singing), and she served as voice faculty at two summer programs for exceptional high school singers. Helding and members of the Keck Voice Center organized the second annual vocal health screening event for voice majors. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Singing and author of the journal’s regular “Mindful Voice” column, which illuminates current research in cognitive science.


Members of the 1964 USC Chamber Singers, which toured Israel and Europe, met for a reunion in Santa Fe during the summer. Doug Lawrence, Bob Hasty, Del Shilling, Doyle Preheim, Charlie Parker, Barbara Hasty, Katie Wolf, Nina Hinson, Darlene Lawrence Hatcher, and Glen Ellen Maxwell were able to attend and were celebrated for the musical impact they have had on so many lives. The legacy of fine choral performances lives on!


Michael Alfera’s (’09) choir, the L.A. Choral Lab, continues to thrive. The ensemble had three major performances in 2017, including one to a sold-out house at the Dolby Theater. The L.A. Choral Lab will be performing for the first time at the ACDA Western Region convention in Pasadena in March, 2018. Alfera continues to play piano and direct the choir at Temple Israel of Hollywood under the leadership of fellow Trojan Shelly Fox. Outside the music world, Alfera is just a few months away from finishing his JD at Southwestern Law School. Samuel Barbara (DMA ’13;

Choral Music) is the newly appointed Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus, where he conducts three choirs and teaches applied voice. Prior to his current appointment, he served as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Barbara is one of three finalists for the artistic director position for the Portland Symphonic Choir and remains active as an adjudicator and clinician throughout the Portland area. Last year, he guest-conducted the PMEA District 8 Chorus and will return to Pennsylvania this winter to conduct the District 10 Chorus.

James Beaumier (DMA ’89; Choral Music) had an

eventful year. In December of 2016, the Hartsville (South Carolina) Community Chorus performed a concert with brass and organ including Rutter’s Gloria and Rudolph’s The Dream Isaiah Saw. In the spring, more than half of the members of his honors choir were selected for the South Carolina All-State Chorus. In May, the Community Choir and High School Singers performed medleys arranged for orchestra by Beaumier from The Wizard of Oz, The

Lion King, and Wicked with the Long Bay Symphony. Also in May, Beaumier received a nomination as a quarter-finalist for the 2018 Grammy Music Educator of the Year award. This fall, Beaumier’s honors choir performed Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Carolina Master Chorale and the Long Bay Symphony.

Michael Connolly (MM ’83, DMA ’86; Choral Music) will be retiring this summer after thirty years at the University of Portland, Oregon, where he conducts the University Singers, teaches music history, and chairs the committee that evaluates faculty for tenure and promotion. The choir’s recent Advent Concert featured settings of the Gloria (chant, Palestrina, Vivaldi, Ramirez, and Rutter). Throughout his career, Connolly has been active in Catholic liturgical music, with many of his compositions published by GIA, and he has served as chair of the board of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. After USC, Connolly was a Rotary International Scholar in Vienna. After leaving USC and attending IU for his masters in Opera, Benjamin Cortez (’11, Vocal Arts) made the difficult transition to stage directing. Choral Music and solo singing were his main means of income until he moved to Germany in 2015. Cortez recently completed his first year as a Fest Assistant Director at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe and made the switch to a dream house at Oper Frankfurt, where he assists, oversees revivals of Eugene Onegin and Werther (this season alone!), and hopefully directs his own productions in the coming years.

Chris Eanes (MM ’07, DMA

’11; Choral Music) is in the midst of his ninth season as Artistic Director and CEO of the Cincinnati Boychoir, which will take him to South Africa for performances in June 2018. On the homefront, his group Collegium Cincinnati will be performing the music of Bach, Pärt, Vivaldi, and more in 2017-2018, finishing the season with the encore of their 2017 world premiere performance of Patrick Harlin’s The Art of Flight for string orchestra. This piece was commissioned by Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral on the occasion of their bicentennial, in conjunction with an art installation entitled Murmuration by Anne Patterson. At the time of this writing, one of his two children can walk on two legs.

Karen Garrett (’11) is currently the Choral Director at Santiago High School in Corona, CA . In 2016, her choir earned a superior rating at the CMEA State Choral Festival. In addition to her work with her choirs, she is currently the President of Southern California Vocal Association (SCVA) that serves choral directors of Southern California and their students. Grant Gershon (’85, Piano

Performance) is currently in his 17th season as Artistic Director of the LA Master Chorale, which was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in June. This fall he made his San Francisco Opera debut, leading the world premiere performances of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West. Grant also conducted performances of The Pearl Fishers at LA Opera in October.

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Now retired from full time teaching, Stephen Gothold (DMA ’78; Choral Music) continues to conduct Chorale Bel Canto in Whittier, now it its 36th year. He also teaches part-time at Claremont Graduate University, teaching and supervising the graduate students in conducting. In November, Gothold was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer, which settled in his rib cage and spine, and he has virtually lost the use of his legs. He and his circle of family and friends are doing all they can to fight this disease.

Christopher Gravis (DMA

’17; Choral Music) is Assistant Professor and the Director of Choral Activities at California State University–Los Angeles. He serves as the co-director of the Three-Summer MM degree in Choral Conducting through the College of Professional and Global Education. In 2017 he was appointed Canon for Music Ministry and Cathedral Arts at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Los Angeles, a place that is proud to serve as an off-campus home for the USC Choral Community. Gravis and fellow USC Thornton alumna Andrea Zomorodian (‘11) were married in May of 2017. They live in Long Beach and enjoy not having any pets.

Noreen Green (DMA ’91;

Choral Music) is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (founded in 1994). Known for her knowledge and skill in presenting music with Jewish themes, she served as guest conductor in the United States, Israel, South Africa, and Canada. Green also conducts the American Jewish University Choir—which she founded in 2014—the Pierce College Encore Choir, and the American Jewish Symphony. Green presented a lecture/ concert in Sydney, Australia, called “A Celebration of Women and Music through a Jewish Lens.” She led two interest sessions on “Jewish Choral Music from the Sephardic and Ashkenazic Traditions” at the 2017 ACDA National Conference, and her first recording with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, an oratorio by Andrea Clearfield entitled Women of Valor, has just been released on the Albany label. Recently achieving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at the University of Regina (Canada), Dominic Gregorio (DMA ‘12; Choral Music) took his choir to Cuba during the summer of 2017, as well as performing Bernstein’s Candide with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming performances this year with the symphony include Handel’s Messiah, and the Fauré Requiem, conducted by Bramwell Tovey. The year will culminate in a Chamber Singers tour to Mexico City. This past year Todd J. Harper (DMA ’08; Choral Music) was engaged as a conductor, clinician, lecturer and adjudicator both in the US and abroad. He co-presented an interest session at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in Atlantic City, NJ,

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with his student leaders and the Providence College ensemble, I Cantori, as demonstration choir. Harper also received international invitations to work in Costa Rica (February), Thailand (May), Xinyang, China (June), Venezuela (July), Indonesia (July), Argentina (August), and Changsha, China (October). He serves the profession as the Chair of the ACDA Standing Committee on International Activities, the Director of the ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program, and as a Board Member of the International Federation for Choral Music.

Nancy Holland (DMA ’17; Choral Music), Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City, graduated from USC’s Thornton School of Music with her Doctorate in Choral Music in the spring of 2017. She sings with the Donald Brinegar Singers and is the Assistant Conductor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab Chorus. Both groups sing with the Pasadena POPS and Symphony. In the fall of 2017, Nancy conducted Brahms’ Requiem. Joining her church choir were singers from five Unitarian Universalist Churches, the Donald Brinegar Singers, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab Chorus. The performance, with professional soloists and orchestra, occurred on November 18 at the Hall of Liberty in Forest Lawn. Seth Houston, (DMA ’14, Director of Choral Activities at UC Irvine) prepared the audience with a pre-concert lecture on Brahms. Seth Houston (DMA ’14;

Choral Music), is enjoying his new role at the University of California– Irvine, as Associate Chair for Performance. In April 2017, Houston and his UCI Chamber Singers hosted Moira Smiley for a residency and concert of her works. In November 2017, they presented a “workshop performance” of dreams of the new world, a major new work by Ellen Reid that was commissioned by the LA Master Chorale. In March 2018, they join forces with CSU Long Beach Chamber Singers, Riverside City College Chamber Singers, and the UCI Symphony Orchestra to present two performances of the Brahms Requiem. Houston’s 2016 wedding with Adele Stichel was featured in the October 2017 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. When Guy Jansen (DMA ’84; Choral Music) returned to New Zealand from USC in May 1984, he set about establishing Summer Schools in Choral Conducting. In the 25 years of their existence, these international events attracted most of the country’s conductors of community, chamber, and school choirs. In 2001, the Schools celebrated being transformed into a New Zealand Choral Federation (NZCF) Association of Choral Directors. A photo

of the delegates at the transitioning convention shows Jo-Michael Scheibe 4th from the left in the second to front row, and Jansen 8th from the right in the same row. In September, Jansen received a Distinguished Service Award from the NZCF, and he is currently finishing a book on the story of choral singing in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Since retiring from full-time teaching in 2013, Ron Kean (MM ’85, DMA ’87; Choral Music) has conducted choral music festivals for the Santa Monica/Malibu School District and in Honolulu, Hawaii. He adjudicated choral music festivals at CSU Long Beach, USC, Fresno State University, Santa Maria Community College, and the International Choral Festival in Bali, Indonesia. In 2016, he received the Howard Swan Award from California ACDA (now CCDA) and was selected to be the Norman Levan Scholar of the Year at Bakersfield College in 2017 for his scholarship and compositions. Kean has completed six commissions, including The Journey of Harriet Tubman. This 5-movement, multi-media Choral Drama for choir, soloists, video, mbira, and marimba celebrates the triumph of Harriet Tubman, conductor of the Underground Railroad. Having completed her Master’s degree under Hilary Apfelstadt’s guidance at the University of Toronto in June 2017, Sarah Maria Leung (BACM ’15) is currently Co-Music Director at Calvin Presbyterian Church + Deer Park United Church, leading the choir in their ecumenical services. As Intern Conductor at the Toronto Children’s Chorus, she works alongside its Artistic Director Elise Bradley, helps conduct Main Choir, and coaches young choristers in sight-singing. She is also Assistant Conductor of the project-based professional Incontra Vocal Ensemble. When she is not conducting, she is singing with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Chamber Singers alumnus Dylan Moore is a third-year PhD candidate at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering (Design). He recently received a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship for his research on how robots communicate with humans through sound. He also completed a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Over the summer, he prototyped a home robotic speaker concept as a Future Experience intern at Harman International. He continues singing as a baritone in the San Francisco Fog City Singers, which placed ninth at the 2017 International Barbershop Chorus Contest.

Till MacIvor Meyn (DMA

’00, Composition), a former USC Chamber Singers bass/ baritone, is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Texas Christian University. He is an active choral composer. His work, Salut au monde, was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2011 Boston Choral Ensemble National Commissioning Project, and his 2014 choral cycle Scotia Songs has been widely performed. He has just completed a commissioned

work for the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts Academy Singers: Far Rockaway Night Till Morning, a beautiful setting of Carl Sandberg poetry. During the summer of 2017,

Joanna Medawar Nachef

(MM ’83, DMA ’88, Choral Music) was a guest conductor with MIDAM International’s 2nd Biennial Music Tour to Vienna. 20172018 marks her third season as Artistic Director for the Joanna Medawar Nachef Singers, her semi-professional choral group. Nachef celebrated her 20th anniversary as Director of Choral Activities at El Camino College and her El Camino Choral participated in the MACCC Conference in 2017. Nachef received the 2017 Mu Phi Epsilon ACME honoree award, and Peninsula People Magazine featured her in its 2017 cover profile, “100 Influential Lebanese Figures Around the World.” She was included in the 2017 Women’s Issue of Southbay Magazine and received the Torrance Performing Arts Consortium 2017 Mercury Award.

Gregory Norton (MM ’86;

Choral Music) is in his third year as Minister of Music at Pasadena’s First United Methodist Church, frequent performance venue for the ACDA Western Region convention. In May 2018, he will end his tenure as Music Director of the Claremont Chorale, an independent community chorus in Claremont that he has led for 25 years. The Chorale’s concert that month will celebrate their 50th anniversary as an ensemble and will include the winning piece of a competition that they are sponsoring. In the fall of 2016, Marta Olson (’16; Choral Music and Narrative Studies) founded the music program at KIPP Excelencia Community Preparatory School in Redwood City, California. As the founding music teacher of an elementary school, Marta independently created and taught a full year of music curriculum for children in grades TK-5th. Marta now resides in Santa Monica, performs with Tonality in Los Angeles, and teaches with The Young Musician’s Foundation. In addition to her ensemble experience, Marta arranges and performs music that focuses on social and political change from various regions of the world—from Argentinian protest songs to anti-fascist Italian ballads—and her music exposes audiences to narratives from all over the world.

Tish Oney (DMA ’07) was

honored to serve the U.S. Army Band’s “Pershing’s Own” ensembles, Army Voices and Army Blues, as Artist-In-Residence, Composer-In-Residence, and guest vocalist. In 2017, Oney performed A Holiday Evening With Tish Oney and her off-Broadway show, Going My Way! The Songs of Jimmy Van Heusen. Her peer-reviewed article, “Dalcroze Eurythmics: An Application to Voice Pedagogy” was published in the Journal of Singing, and she then presented this research at the South Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Fall Workshop. Oney also published several jazz theory/lyric analysis articles for her column, “Anatomy of a Standard” at

After USC, Chamber Singers alumna Jan Payne became a featured soloist for The Roger Wagner Chorale, became the first female soloist at Back To The Bible Broadcast in Lincoln, Nebraska, and taught voice at Biola University, Azusa Pacific University, and Pacific Christian College. For nine years before her before retirement in 2009 Payne served as Chorus Director and Vocal Coach for Biola Youth Theatre, a children’s musical theatre company sponsored by Biola University: a lifelong dream and a ministry to young people. Payne maintains a private voice studio and has started a second career as a writer. Her first book, a children’s picture book based on Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice In The Lamb, has been accepted for publication. Though mostly retired from the Choral Music scene in Australia, Peter Pocock (MM ’83 DMA ’96, Choral Music) occasionally substitutes as organist in his Anglican (Episcopal) parish in Canberra. His primary work now is coordinating 256 doctoral students for the Faculty of Arts and Education of Charles Sturt University, Australia.

Troy Quinn (DMA ’14;

Choral Music) was recently appointed Music Director of the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky after an international search involving 150 candidates. He is currently in his third season as Music Director of the Juneau Symphony, where he conducts both the classical and pops concert series. He recently joined the conducting faculty at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where he serves as a Lecturer in Instrumental Conducting. He continues to guest-conduct orchestras throughout the United States and is in demand as a session singer for recordings in television and motion pictures.

Jason Saunders (MM ’14;

Choral Music) is in his fourth year as Director of Choirs at Graham-Kapowsin High School near Tacoma, Washington. The program has grown to include over 200 singers and two choir directrors. The GKHS Chorale has been invited to perform at the 2018 Washington Music Educators Association Conference, as well as the 2018 Northwest ACDA Regional Conference. Saunders was the recipient of the 2015 Washington State ACDA Outstanding Emerging Choral Director Award, given to conductors with ten or fewer years of experience. He serves on the Washington ACDA Board as the Web Editor. An active composer, Saunders has recent publications with Walton Music, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Colla Voce Music. At USC, Saunders studied composition with Morten Lauridsen and received the Choral Department Award.

Christian Stendel (MM ’85; Choral Music) reached a significant milestone in his professional life in 2017. Stendel retired from his role at Los Angeles City College on July 1, 2017. He remains Music Director of St. Martin-the-Fields Episcopal Church, Winnetka, California.

Sarah Twilley (BACM ’16) is currently completing prerequisite coursework for the Teaching Credential Program at California State University–Fullerton, aiming to begin the program in the fall of 2018. Twilley has become part of the Worship Leadership

Team at Cityline Church in Lakewood, California, and serves as Choir Director. Most recently, Twilley has joined the newly-formed Free To Be Me Performing Arts Academy in Garden Grove as Assistant Music Director and Voice Teacher. This past fall, the troupe was invited to perform at the Rose Bowl for the Walk To End Epilepsy and at the Signal Hill Tree Lighting. The group will travel to Nashville this spring.

Jaco Wong (MM ’16; Choral Music and Composition) participated in the Sarteano Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop held in Italy, where he conducted and sang under the guidance of Simon Carrington. Following the summer, Wong began teaching at Junipero Serra High School as the director of instrumental and choral music while continuing his music directorship at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church. As a composer, Wong is finishing commissions for Nova Vocal Ensemble, Vivace Youth Chorus, as well as an art installation with animator, Evan Tedlock, titled Psithaura. Wong remains an active singer, joining the Contemporary Choral Collective of Los Angeles and the Charles Dickens Carolers for the new season.

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: Department of Choral and Sacred Music USC Thornton School of Music 840 West 34th Street, MUS 416 Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851

alumni news 17

THE AMERICAN PREMIERE OF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY WORK In June 2016, USC Music Librarian Andrew Justice was asked to assist with locating the score for a setting of “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” (Psalm 149) by eighteenth-century composer Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801). After an extensive search, Justice contacted the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany. Archivist Olaf Nippe confirmed that, although they do not own Naumann’s autograph score, they do have several copies in different scribal hands, and—to the best of his knowledge—there is no modern performance edition. The Archives shared two editions of the Naumann score, an older, hand-written score and a later edition, Thornton doctoral student in choral music, Jeremy Bakken, created a performance edition from these manuscripts, and—in April of 2017, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers performed the American premiere of Naumann’s masterwork to a large audience at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. The edition of “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” is currently being considered for publication.

Psalm 149

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Third-year DMA student in Choral Music Irene


competed as a semi-finalist in the ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition in Minneapolis. At the conference, the Fourth Edition of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir (GIA) was released, to which she contributed several performance guides. Recently, she has been invited to present her research on choral singing and empathy at Podium Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Apanovitch-Leites teaches Choral Conducting I methods, co-conducts Oriana Women’s Choir, and is a Teaching Assistant Fellow with USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching.

Jeremy Bakken recently

completed his first year as Director of Worship and Sacred Music at Northwestern Publishing House in Milwaukee. In the fall of 2017, he began conducting the adult mixed choir at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Over the past year, he has had several commissions performed, including a setting of Luther’s Sanctus, a set of eight hymn-based preludes for organ, and two original works: an original hymn text, tune and choral arrangement, Faithful God, and the SATB composition Serve One Another. Upcoming publications include a setting of the Nunc Dimittis for SATB and piano (Kjos) among others. Tonality—a professional choir founded by Doctoral Candidate Alexander Lloyd Blake that is focused on diversity, peace and social justice—finished their inaugural season. During the 2017-2018 season, they will perform two concerts that deal with issues of gun violence and immigration respectively.

18 student news

Blake serves as the Assistant Conductor of the National Children’s Choir and as the Choral Director at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the Assistant Conductor at First Congregational Church Los Angeles. Blake completed his fifth year on the Choral Music faculty of the North Carolina Governor’s School. First-year doctoral student in Choral Music and Teaching Assistant for the Thornton Chamber Singers, Ryan Chatterton hails from Saratoga Springs, New York, via Fort Worth, Texas. Chatterton was the Director of Choirs at North Side High School in Fort Worth, Music Associate at First Presbyterian Church Fort Worth, Assistant Conductor of the Lone Star Youth Chorus, and Artistic Director of the Choral Artists of Fort Worth. Chatterton studied with Craig Hella Johnson, and members of Conspirare at the Texas State Choral Conducting Symposium and contributed as a graphic designer for the book Choral Monuments by Dennis Shrock.

Kate Crellin is a junior at USC pursuing a double major in Choral Music and Law, History and Culture. This summer she was selected to sing in an Eton Choral Course in Eastbourne, England, worked with Ralph Allwood, John Rutter, and Dame Felicity Lott, and performed in Westminster Abbey and Chichester Cathedral. She is also 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 now teaches bi-weekly preschool music as part of a Thornton-based research project.

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Isabella Custino is a junior in the BA Choral Music program and is originally from Hillsborough, California. She is currently the Music Ministry Intern at the USC Caruso Catholic Center, where she conducts the 9:00 PM Mass Schola. Custino also teaches Middle School choir and Pre-K students through the Thornton Community Engagement Programs. She serves as the Choral Lab Coordinator on the USC ACDA Student Chapter Executive Board. This is her second year as an Alto in the USC Chamber Singers, and she is looking forward to touring the Baltics and Poland with them this summer. During 2017, third-year DMA student in Sacred Music, Adan Fernandez, presented at two conferences: the Musical Minds Conference at California State University–Fullerton and the Hymn Society Conference in Ontario, Canada. Fernandez served as organist for the 15-Year Anniversary of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and was recently named Director of Music at Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale. In addition, Fernandez was appointed to the board for the Kodály Association of California and now serves as an instructor for the National Children’s Choir.

Nathan Fratzke is a first-

year DMA Choral Music student from Wilton, Iowa. Fratzke was a four-year member of the acclaimed Wartburg Choir and later received his master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri–Columbia. While in Columbia, Nathan was Director of Music at Calvary Episcopal Church, Assistant Director of the Columbia Chorale, and conductor of the Columbia Chamber Choir. At USC Thornton, he sings as a member in Concert Choir and Apollo Men’s Chorus

and serves as Programs Coordinator for the Thornton Communications Department.

Nathaniel Fryml is

Director of Choral Activities at Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas, where he teaches music theory, conducts the AC Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz ensemble, and serves as Artistic Director of the Amarillo Master Chorale, currently in its 38th season. As a conductor and pianist, Fryml collaborates with various arts organizations in the Texas Panhandle, including Amarillo Opera and Chamber Music Amarillo. He also serves as assistant conductor for the Bellingham Summer Music Festival in Washington. His composition Tonight in Bethlehem was recently released by Pavane Music (Jo-Michael Scheibe Choral Series). First-year doctoral student in Choral Music Daniel Gee (MM ’15) is a Lilly Graduate Fellow and will participate in conferences and colloquia discussing pedagogical questions in art, music, literature, philosophy, and religion with other PhD students across the United States. Gee was named Associate Conductor of the Oriana Women’s Chorus and continues his work as Conducting Fellow of the Long Beach Symphony and Choir Director at Evergreen Baptist Church. He recently completed a commission for the Westridge School Chamber Orchestra entitled Open Roads.

Choirs, Choral Lab, and Reverse Osmosis, one of USC’s premier a cappella groups. Redlaczyk was elected Secretary for USC’s Student ACDA Chapter, and she loves working with children in her position as Music Intern at First United Methodist Church in Pasadena. In the past year, Redlaczyk had the opportunity to conduct Stephen Chatman’s Remember in BA Choral Lab. She will perform at the ACDA Western Region conference with Concert Choir this spring.

Andrew Schultz is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Music at the USC Thornton School of Music and is leading University Chorus this year. In January, Schultz accepted the position of Director of Sanctuary Music at Westwood United Methodist Church, and this past summer included presenting at the National Association of Church Musicians conference in Santa Ana, CA. Prior to his move to Southern California, Schultz spent seven years as Director of Music Programs for Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio and worked as Performance Series Director for the Defiance Community Cultural Council.

Concert Honor Choir at the 2017 ACDA conference. She is in her fourth-year with the Thornton Community Engagement Program, researching the impacts of music education on young children and teaching music in the LA Unified School District.

Colin Stave is in his second

year as a DMA student in Choral Music at USC. In August of 2017, Stave was named Chancel Choir Director at Tustin Presbyterian Church in Tustin, CA. In October, he presented a Graduate Choral Recital at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles, featuring works of Handel, Delius, Byrd, Walton, Dove, Beach, and Parry. He holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Central Washington University and a Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance from Pacific Lutheran University. From 2005 to 2014, Stave was the Organist and Choir Director at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon.

Scott Rieker—a third-year

her final year at USC and will graduate in May with her BS in Business and BA in Choral Music. Upon graduation, she will pursue a full-time role with global professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers in their digital strategy division. In 2017, she sang with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers and Concert Choir and was selected to represent the California in the Unity

DMA student in Choral Music—was named Artistic Director of the Torrance Civic Chorale. He continues to serve as the Choir Director at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church and as a co-conductor of the USC Apollo Men’s Chorus. Rieker contributed several performance guides to the fourth volume of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir (GIA) and received composition commissions for Shadow Mountain High School and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln University Singers. He presented his research on of Social Network Theory and Emergence Theory at the Iowa Music Educators Conference in November.

2017-2018 Department of Choral and Sacred Music faculty and Graduate Students in residence at USC

student news 19

Claire Redlaczyk is a sophomore BA Choral Music major from Bentonville, Arkansas. She greatly enjoyed singing with Concert Choir under the direction of Cristian Grases, multiple Recital

Geetha Somayajula is in

Your Work Will

Save Lives


n the wall in his office— incongruous with the other artwork, awards, and shelves of books—Professor Nick Strimple has a World War II poster commending the importance of citizens’ work efforts on the homefront. Beneath an image of a distraught woman with an open telegram, in enormous block letters, stands the phrase: Your Work Will Save

M A RC H JA N UA RY The premier Australian youth choir, Gondwana Voices, visited the United States, which included a stop by USC Thornton and a choral exchange with the Chamber Singers.

A large number of students from around the world participated in graduate auditions. Funded in-part by the Noble Foundation, Joseph Flummerfelt— emeritus Director of Choral Activities at Westminster Choir College—presented lectures in Graduate Choral Literature, worked with students in Graduate Choral Conducting, and provided one-on-one lessons to the lucky few students who secured slots.


section work name will save lives 20 your

The Thornton Concert Choir, under the direction of Cristian Grases, participated in the 75th Annual Pacific Southwest Intercollegiate Choral Association (PSICA) festival in Pasadena the first weekend of March. Also in March, Choral and Sacred Music faculty and students attended the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference, where several alumni were presenters and performers. A quartet from USC represented California in ACDA Unity Concert Honor Choir, and second-year doctoral student Irene Apanovitch was selected as a semi-finalist in the Graduate Conducting Competition.

The Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Apollo Mens’ Chorus, Oriana Women’s Choir, and University Chorus all presented their spring concerts in April this year. BA Choral Lab performed their annual Spring Concert.


JUNE June and July saw the Choral Department preparing for the 2017-18 school year with an especially active recruiting presence at the campus-wide orientation events. A record number of students were contacted, and there was a choral presence at every New Student

The first master’s student—Daniel Newman-Lessler—and the first doctoral students—Amber Kim and Lorry Black—in the newly reconstituted Sacred Music program graduated, bringing the total to 7 graduate students receiving their degrees.

M AY Throughout the year we conducted graduate recitals for thirty-one graduate students, as well as many other exciting events. However, in the limited space here, it is impossible to mention the full scope of the exemplary activities in which our faculty, staff, alumni, and students are engaged. Across the country and around the world, Trojans are saving lives in their community through their music and their service. It is a great time to be a Trojan. Fight On!

Lives. Two events from 2017 exemplify the life-changing difference choral music can make in people’s lives. In the spring, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers received the largest grant ever awarded from USC Visions and Voices to perform Craig Hella Johnson’s passion oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard on April 8, 2018. This eclectic and powerful

J U LY Orientation event thanks to the tireless work of second-year Choral DMA student Ernest Harrison. Lorry Black (DMA ’17; Sacred Music) was named Associate Director of the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at the University of California–Los Angeles.

S EP T EM B ER Funded in-part by the Noble Foundation, the Department of Choral and Sacred Music welcomed former Chair, Rod Eichenberger, for a week-long residency, where he was a guest-instructor in the Graduate Choral Conducting and Choral Development classes. Eichenberger also worked with the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, including rehearsing part of Morten Lauridsen’s (’66, MA ’68, DMA ’74; Composition) Midwinter Songs, a piece Eichenberger premiered. During September, the incomparable Suzi Digby returned to teach a six-week seminar in Graduate Choral Literature I, and—along with USC Arts Leadership Program director Kenneth Foster—presented to the Choral Development class.

Four new master’s students and four new doctoral students joined the ranks, including Ryan Chatterton, Teaching Assistant for Chamber Singers. August also saw some of the most difficult call-backs ever for Chamber Singers and Concert Choir, due to the consistently increasing high quality of the singers.


semi-staged work will be presented in conjunction with a panel discussion and garnered support from groups as wideranging as the USC LGBT Resource Center and the USC Caruso Catholic Center. Also in the spring, the Thornton Concert Choir was invited, along with the Chamber Singers, to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 along with

The Concert Choir performed for the gala opening of USC’s $700 million University Village. Cari Earnhardt, André Thomas, and María Guinand presented spellbinding lectures as part of the Noble Foundation Lecture Series. Twenty-six schools participated in the annual Choral Leadership Workshop. The Chamber Singers and Concert Choir sang a joint concert, and Apollo Men’s Chorus and Oriana Women’s Choir continued their annual tradition with a joint performance at the First Baptist Church in Glendale.


the USC Thornton Symphony and the Pacific Symphony. The life-changing nature of this work has been proven again and again. In a time when arts are seen as a luxury, the necessity of the work done here at USC becomes ever-more apparent.

N OV EM B ER The energy in the Choral and Sacred Music Department was directed toward preparing for “Brightest and Best, Winter Gala” scholarship fundraising concert. The partnership with the USC Bookstore continued to support Winter Gala, offering for sale the Brightest and Best, A Winter Gala CD to generate funds for scholarships.

2017 ended in high gear. The Winter Gala occurred on a Saturday for the first time, ensuring that many more parents, family members, and friends could be in attendance, especially those coming from greater distances. This year, all five choirs—Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Oriana Women’s Choir, Apollo Men’s Chorus, and University Chorus—joined the USC Trombone Choir, the Scholarship Brass ensemble, and instrumentalists from across the school for a highly successful event.


your work will save lives 21

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 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 2017 Choral and Sacred Music Graduates David Rakita, BACM Cassie Schmitt, BACM Hope Thompson, BACM Daniel Newman-Lessler, MM, Sacred Music Ashley Ramsey, MM, Choral Music Lorry Black, DMA, Sacred Music Christopher Gravis, DMA, Choral Music Nancy Holland, DMA, Choral Music Amber Kim, DMA, Sacred Music Yoojin Muhn, DMA, Choral Music Matt Nielsen, DMA, Choral Music Tatiana Taylor, DMA, Choral Music Jenny Wong, DMA, Choral Music

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 Alvin Brightbill, Choral Voice Mary Mattei, Choral Voice Lisa Sylvester, DMA, Diction Lynn Helding, Vocology James Vail, DMA, Professor Emeritus David Wilson, DMA, Professor Emeritus Woody Gatewood, Departmental Administrator Scott Rieker, Editor Layout and design by Jason Saunders 22

We are grateful to the following individuals who have made contributions to the USC Thornton Department of Choral and Sacred Music since July 1, 2013. Dr. David and Carol Hughes Anonymous Evan Michael Hughes Anonymous Austin Hunt Roberto Amico Dr. Robert Michael Istad Guy Arcuri Vicki and Grant K. Iwata Elizabeth Armour Dr. Buddy Oscar James Kristin and Larry Ball Dr. Stephen A. Kanter Robin Barger William P. and Mary Orr Bausano Dr. Lawrence Kaptein and Ellen Brock Beitel Family Fund Daniel Benjamin Keller Katherine E. Belshe Howard Kern Roberta Bissell Lee Robert Kesselman Donald L. Brinegar Richard Lee Kirtland III Dr. Jayne Campbell Seungseop Ko and Young Sook Genaro F. Carapia Lee-Ko James and Martha Childs Drs. Vivian Chui and Kenneth Lam Danielle and Jeffrey Kolesnik Vinette Kopetz Michael Council Carol and Guy Kroesche Stacy D. and Derrick E. Cox Dr. Darlene Lawrence and William Kellie A. and Aaron N. Custino Dr. Marge Moh-Wei Chen-Hribar Hatcher The Samuel Lawrence Foundation Dr. Stephen Coker Maureen L. Condic and H. Joseph Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lee Lesley Leighton Yost Dr. Iris Sue Levine Dr. Harold A. Daugherty Jr. Shou Ping Liu Lin Zhao Davison and Brian G. Kathy and Robert Lo Davison Mary Ju Fang Lo Janice and John Dawson Hazel and James Lord Marcia Deem Dr. Marguerite Marsh Angel Delgadillo The Honorable Edwin K. Marzec Nicole Michelle Debbini Mary and William Mays David Devine Gayle A. and Larry S. Dickenson Dr. Stanley R. McDaniel Dr. David L. Means Dr. Coreen Sylvia Duffy Dr. Donald B. and Mary C. Miller Cindy Duncan Pamela J. and Timothy D. Eager Professor Kristine Monroe and David Monroe Stephen J. Edwards Richard Moran Rodney Eichenberger Jane George and Alan Erlbaum Shirley and John G. Morgan Dr. Wyant and Sarah Morton Josslyn Fahrni Joann and Edward Mokslaveskas Steve Ficek Gisela M. Munoz Elizabeth Molly Flier Dr. Sarah A. Latier Napier Dr. Stephen Ray Fuller Gail and Roy Nagaoka James P. Gagnon Kullanit Nitiwarangkul Karen Garcia Garrett The Donald and Alice Noble Susan Gerling Grant W. Gershon and Elissa M. Foundation Christine Marie Ofiesh Johnston Gitanjali and Jai Pathak Leonard Gill Kimberly and Pierre Pellissier Noreen Ellen Green Anne M. Petrie Ann M. Guerra Joy Lynn Phan James H. Harter Dr. Todd J. Harper and Connie C. Sheryl and Glenn M. Phillips Cuc T. Phung and Thong H. Kim Nguyen Billy Haygood Robert K. Rasmussen and Linda Helms Rebecca L. Brown Margaret P. and Guilbert C. Dr. Doyle C. Preheim Hentschke Lorna Reed Anne and Thomas E. Hill Dana Stoike Riccard Barbara A. and Wayne Jolene Riley Hirabayashi Thomas B. Ringland Nancy and James Holland Rebecca Rodman Debora Lee Huffman


USC Thornton Choral and Sacred Music 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 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 Mr. and Mrs. John Wiscombe Joan M. Wismer Janice Lynn Wyma Virginia L. and David W. Yoder


FEBRUARY Saturday, February 24 – High School Choral Invitational Saturday, February 24 – Community College Festival MARCH Friday, March 7 Chamber Singers and Concert Choir present: “Soundscapes II” St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church – 7:30 PM Tickets begin at $28 visit for more information Thursday, March 15 – Concert Choir performs for ACDA Western Region Conference Friday, March 30 The USC Choral Artists present Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the USC Thornton Symphony Bovard Auditorium – 7:30 PM FREE APRIL Sunday, April 8 Chamber Singers presents: Considering Matthew Shepard Bovard Auditorium – 4:00 PM FREE, reservations required, visit for more information Friday, April 13 University Chorus presents: “The Spirit Says Sing!” St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral – 7:30 PM Tickets $5 (Cash and Check only) purchase at door, general admission. Saturday, April 14 Apollo Men’s Chorus and Oriana Women’s Choir present: “Vivace: Sing With Us!” Alfred Newman Recital Hall – 8:00 PM FREE, reservations required, email or call 213.821.5756

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. 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 or 213-821-5756. Your legacy awaits.

Sunday, April 15 The USC Choral Artists present Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Pacific Symphony – 3:00 PM Tickets begin at $40 – visit for more information Thursday, April 26 BA Choral Majors Conduct the Concert Choir – 3:00 PM FREE Friday, April 27 BA Choral Lab Concert – 3:00 PM FREE MAY 14–26 Chamber Singers tour of the Baltics and Poland spring calendar 23

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

2018 acda western region conference Pasadena, CA March 14-17, 2018

Join us in Pasadena at the ACDA Western Region Conference March 14-17, 2018! We are proud to announce that the USC Thornton Concert Choir, under the direction of Cristian Grases, will be one of the performing ensembles. This is the Concert Choir’s first performance at ACDA since 1984, when they performed under the direction of James Vail. We congratulate the ensembles performing at the conference under the direction of USC Department of Choral and Sacred Music alumni, as well as alumni and faculty who are presenting at the conference, including: Nick Strimple (MM ’73; Sacred Music, DMA ’76; Choral Music) Cristian Grases (Associate Professor) Tram Sparks (Adjunct Associate Professor) Noreen Green (DMA ’91; Choral Music) Michael Alfera (’09) Robert Istad (DMA ’06; Choral Music) Iris Levine (DMA ’90; Choral Music) Michelle Hawkins (MM; Jazz Studies) Buddy James (DMA ’98; Choral Music) Jayne Campbell (BM, MM; Vocal Performance, DMA; Music Education) Grant Gershon (’85; Piano Performance) Bruce Rogers

You are invited to attend the USC Choral and Sacred Music reception at the ACDA Western Region Conference: El Portal Restaurant (695 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91101) Thursday, March 15, 2018, 10:00 PM Appetizers provided; no host bar. Please RSVP by emailing

2018 USC Thornton Dept. of Choral & Sacred Music Newsletter  
2018 USC Thornton Dept. of Choral & Sacred Music Newsletter