USC Thornton School of Music

The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, founded in 1884 and dedicated in 1999, is one of the premier music schools in the United States. Founded only four years after the University of Southern California itself, the Thornton School is the oldest continually operating arts institution in Southern California.[1] The School is located in the heart of the USC University Park Campus, south of downtown Los Angeles.

The school gets its name in honor of a $25 million gift by Flora L. Thornton in 1999. At the time, this was the largest donation to a school of music in the United States. In 2006, she donated an additional $5 million to support the facility needs of the school.[2]

The USC Thornton School is noted for quality programs such as orchestral studies, opera, jazz, early music, composition, Film Scoring and Music Industry. Rolling Stone magazine named the music school as one of the top-five in the country.[3]

A diverse school of music, Thornton is one of the few highly regarded music schools in the United States to offer a degree program in early music. Students of baroque, renaissance and medieval music (vocal or instrumental) may enroll in a specialized degree program in early music.

Thornton was one of the first universities to offer an undergraduate program in Music Industry, a program still regarded as among the best in the country. Thornton offers the only comprehensive program in Scoring for Television and Film. It also has a unique program in studio guitar performance.

In 2009, the Thornton School was again a trailblazer in collegiate music when it became the first university to offer a major in popular music performance and songwriting alongside its already prestigious classical and jazz programs.

At the 2007 Grammy Awards, four alumni (out of six nominated) and four faculty members received awards, in addition to one faculty member receiving a special honor.[3] At the 2009 Grammy Awards, faculty and alumni won six awards.[4]

Notable faculty (past and present)

Choral Music

Classical Guitar


  • Donald Crockett


Early Music

  • Elizabeth Blumenstock
  • Susan Feldman
  • Rachelle Fox
  • Adam Knight Gilbert
  • Rotem Gilbert
  • Charles Koster
  • Paul J. Sherman
  • Scott Shubeck
  • William Skeen
  • Shanon Zusman

Jazz Studies

Keyboard Collaborative Arts

  • Joel Clifft
  • Kevin Fitz-Gerald
  • Dr. Alan L. Smith

Keyboard Studies

Music Education

  • Robert Cutietta
  • Christine DeMore
  • Susan Helfter
  • Dean Raymond Immel
  • Lisa Smith
  • Tina Vartanian
  • John L. Whitener
  • Shelia C. Woodward
  • Paul Young

Music Industry

  • Ted Ancona
  • Bill Biersach
  • Stacy Brightman
  • Steve Cunningham
  • Jerry Del Colliano
  • Andrew Garver
  • Mark Goldstein
  • Kenneth Lopez
  • Stephen McCurry
  • Scott Page
  • Richard McIlvery
  • Katie Casson Ruble
  • Christopher Sampson
  • Rick Schmunk
  • Chris Stone
  • Paul Young'


Organ Studies

  • Cherry Rodes
  • Ladd Thomas

Pedagogical Technology

  • Brian K. Shepard

Polish Music Center

  • Marek Zebrowski

Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television


Studio/Jazz Guitar

Theory/Aural Skills

Trojan Marching Band

  • Art Bartner
  • Tony Fox

Vocal Arts and Opera

Winds and Percussion

Performance halls and studios

Notable alumni


  1. "About Us". USC Thornton School of Music. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  2. "Flora L. Thornton". USC Thornton School of Music. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  3. 1 2 Ljiljana Grubisic, Thornton Faculty, Alums Win Grammys, USC Public Relations, March 12, 2007, Accessed March 4, 2009.
  4. Jennifer Pons and Allison Engel, USC Shines at the Grammys, USC Public Relations, February 12, 2009, Accessed March 4, 2009.
  5. "Beat the Drum: New Lab First of Its Kind". University of Southern California. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  6. Profile page for Wanda Harasimowicz Wilk of the Poles in America Foundation, Inc.
  7. Pauline Yang, student of John Perry

Thornton School of Music
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