The infusion of money from the $25 million Thornton endowment will translate into some palpable changes at the music school, according to dean Larry Livingston.
First on the docket is a significant enhancement of programs, resulting in an immediate influx of very high profile visiting artists to teach master classes, perform recitals and appear as soloists with USC’s orchestras and chamber ensembles. While such interactions are hardly new – the Thornton School already presents more than 500 formal and informal concerts and recitals a year, not to mention a steady stream of visiting artists and scholars – now there are resources to do a regular schedule of these sorts of events.
Secondly, the school will increase its marketing and public outreach initiatives. “We’ll focus our attention on providing arts for all the communities we serve – including Los Angeles, the Westside, the Family of Five schools adjacent to USC, Orange County and beyond,” says Walter Zooi, the school’s director of marketing and communications, who is charged with turning Thornton into a household name.
To spread the word throughout the region, Zooi plans to crank out more printed publications, calendars and targeted direct mailings. A souped-up Web site is under construction. Locally, the school will gear up its outreach efforts, to bring music out into the community. “We’ll be going into high schools to perform,” says Zooi, “sending our students to coach school orchestras and jazz bands, filling the void of music instruction. We’re already doing some of this, but now we have resources to do much, much more.”
A third priority will be to invest in the school’s infrastructure - everything from buying new blackboards to wiring multi-media hookups. After years of use, the school’s practice and performance spaces need new acoustical treatments, classrooms need to be spruced up, faculty need more offices (some have shared studios for years) and almost everyone needs new computers.
Zooi says the administration is approaching the sudden windfall with self-restraint. “We want to treat what we have with the greatest amount of care,” he says. “We don’t want to jump into anything.”



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