Multiple USC Thornton grads, faculty among 2023 Grammy nominees

Multiple USC Thornton Grads and Faculty Nominated for 2023 GRAMMY Awards
Portrait of USC Thornton nominees for 2023 Grammys
First-time nominees include Louis Cole, Moonchild, and Bear McCreary. (Design: Mingmei Li)
Alumni and faculty from the Jazz Studies program lead a lengthy list of USC Thornton nominees, most of whom have been honored before.

An impressive list of alumni and faculty from the USC Thornton School of Music received nominations for the 65th GRAMMY Awards, announced Tuesday, Nov. 15. In addition to at least 18 named nominees, many faculty and alumni from across the school were included in nominations as part of ensembles and orchestras, as members of an album’s production, and as music industry professionals representing nominated artists.

First-Time Nominations

While most USC Thornton nominees have received nominations in past years, several alumni received their first nominations. These nominees included four alumni from the Jazz Studies program: Louis Cole (’09), Max Bryk (’11), Amber Navran (’12), and Andris Mattson (’13). Artist and multi-instrumentalist Cole received his nomination in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “Let It Happen.” Bryk, Navran and Mattson, who make up the alternative R&B group Moonchild, were nominated for Best Progressive R&B Album for “Starfruit.”

Noted film composer Bear McCreary (’02), who most recently scored The Lord of the Rings series, “The Rings of Power,” received a nomination in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media for “Call Of Duty: Vanguard.”

Round Two

Several alumni received their second nominations, including classical guitarist Mak Grgic (MM ’12, DMA ’16, GCRT ’20), who earned his second nomination in as many years for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for “A Night In Upper Town – The Music Of Zoran Krajacic.”

Composer Austin Wintory (’07) received his second nomination in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media for “Aliens: Fireteam.” He joins Bear McCreary in this category.

Show Stoppers

Award-winning composer and producer Ludwig Goransson (GCRT ’08), an alum of the Screen Scoring program, is included in the nomination for Album Of The Year for Adele’s “30.”

A host of USC Thornton faculty and alumni are included in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Michael Buble’s “Higher.” Jason Goldman (MM ’02), chair of the Jazz Studies program, produced, arranged, and orchestrated “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” as well as the album’s bonus track, “Pennies From Heaven,” while Buble’s longtime musical director, alum Alan Chang (’02), produced the song, “Smile.” The album features performances from a long list of USC Thornton Jazz Studies alums.

Joining Buble in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album is a capella group, Pentatonix, nominated for “Evergreen.” The group is led by Scott Hoying, who formed the celebrated group as a USC Thornton student with Music Industry alum Ben Bram (’10).

Will Kennedy at Bovard Auditorium
Will Kennedy of the Yellowjackets performing with the USC Thornton Winds in Bovard Auditorium on April 1, 2022. (Photo: Ryan Miller)
Jazz Studies Faculty

Two different ensembles of Jazz Studies faculty were nominated in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The Peter Erskine Trio received a nomination for “Live in Italy.” The group features USC Thornton faculty members Erskine, Darek Oles and Alan Pasqua.

The Peter Erskine Trio will be competing against their colleagues, as celebrated jazz-fusion supergroup Yellowjackets was nominated in the same category for “Parallel Motion.” The group features USC Thornton faculty members Bob Mintzer and Will Kennedy, recently retired faculty member Russell Ferrante, and bassist Dane Alderson.

Jazz Studies faculty member Vince Mendoza joins alum Louis Cole in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. Celebrated arranger Mendoza received a nomination for “Songbird (Orchestral Version)” with Christine McVie. Cole, mentioned earlier, was nominated for arranging “Let It Happen,” which he also performed.

Alumni Trumpeters Shine

Alum Ambrose Akinmusire (MM ’07) received a nomination in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Rounds (Live),” while trumpeter Bijon Watson, who was the drum major for the USC Trojan Marching Band as a USC student, was nominated in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album as part of the Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra.

Orchestral Performances

Photo of Seth Parker Woods smiling indoors.
USC Thornton faculty member and cellist Seth Parker Woods, a member of Wild Up. (Photo: Grittani Creative)
Rounding out the list are two ensembles nominated in the category Best Orchestral Performance. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, which features a significant number of Thornton faculty and alums, was nominated with conductor Gustavo Dudamel for “Dvorak: Symphonies Nos. 7-9,” while noted new music ensemble Wild Up received a nomination for “Eastman: Stay On It.” The ensemble features, among others, Strings faculty member Seth Parker Woods and alum Sidney Hopson (’08, GCRT ’10, MM ’12).

Notable Mentions

Joining Mak Grgic in the category of Best Classical Instrumental Solo is a composition by acclaimed composer Michael Abels (’84), “Isolation Variation,” as part of a nomination for violinist Hilary Hahn.

Music Industry Faculty Represent Nominees

More notable mentions include Music Industry faculty who represent nominated artists. Faculty member Jonathan Azu, founder of management firm Culture Collective, represents client Cory Henry, who earned his second consecutive nomination for Best Progressive R&B Album.

The 65th GRAMMY Awards will take place at 5:00 pm (PT) Sunday, Feb. 5 at Arena. The ceremony will air live on CBS, and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.

Alphabetical List of Named USC Thornton GRAMMY Nominees for 2023

Ambrose Akinmusire (MM ’07)
Max Bryk (’11)
Louis Cole (’09)
Peter Erskine, Jazz Studies faculty
Russell Ferrante, recently retired Jazz Studies faculty
Ludwig Goransson (GCRT ’08)
Mak Grgic (MM ’12, DMA ’16, GCRT ’20)
Scott Hoying (non-degreed alumnus)
Will Kennedy, Popular Music faculty
Andris Mattson (’13)
Bear McCreary (’02)
Vince Mendoza, Jazz Studies faculty
Bob Mintzer, Jazz Studies faculty
Amber Navran (’12)
Darek Oles, Jazz Studies faculty
Alan Pasqua, Jazz Studies faculty
Bijon Watson (non-degreed alumnus)
Austin Wintory (’02)

(In addition, many faculty members and alums were part of ensembles, orchestras, and productions that received nominations. Check back as this list will likely grow.)

The post Multiple USC Thornton grads, faculty among 2023 Grammy nominees appeared first on USC News.

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