The USC Collaborative Alumni Concert
Music Style: New Music
February 23, 2018 @ 8pm (post-show discussion)

Boston Court's Winter Music Series is made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.

Media Sponsor

Performing Arts Live

Tickets are $10, Students are FREE (with valid student ID)

Post-Show Discussion
Stay after the show, for a post-show discussion with the composers and USC performers.

USC graduates in the disciplines of vocal performance and music composition reunite to perform works they first premiered over the past eight years at Boston Court, along with the composers more recent compositions.


  • Victoria Fox (mezzo-soprano)
  • Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • Chelsea Chaves (soprano)
  • Lesley Baird (mezzo-soprano)
  • Matthew Miles (tenor)
  • Bryan Kostors (live electronics)
  • Sarah Gibson (piano)
  • David Castillo (baritone)
  • Alina Roitstein (soprano)
  • Matthew Otto (French Horn)
  • James Hayden (baritone)


  • Noon not a Sound by Julia Adolphe & text by Christopher Santiago
    featuring Victoria Fox (mezzo-soprano) & Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • This eye awakened by Jordan Nelson & text by Neil Aitken
    featuring Chelsea Chaves (soprano) & Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • Credo Juhi Bansal & text by Neil Aitken
    featuring Lesley Baird (mezzo-soprano)
  • Thoughts and Prayers* Bryan Curt Kostors & text by various found sources, including Twitter
    featuring Matthew Miles (tenor) & Bryan Kostors (live electronics)
  • Arson Sarah Gibson & text by Jackson Bliss
    featuring Chelsea Chaves (soprano) • Sarah Gibson (piano)
  • Letter to the Unknown Wife Jeffrey Parola & text by Neil Aitken
    David Castillo (baritone) & Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • I am Ceceilia Thomas Kotcheff & text by Douglas Manuel
    featuring Alina Roitstein (soprano) & Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • The Barcelona Inside Me* Sarah Gibson & text by Robin Becker
    featuring Victoria Fox (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Otto (French Horn), & Sarah Gibson (piano)
  • Enchantress of Numbers* Juhi Bansal & text by Neil Aitken
    featuring Alina Roitstein (soprano)& Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • Hélas* Jeffrey Parola & text by Oscar Wilde
    featuring David Castillo (baritone)& Lisa Sylvester (piano)
  • A Slow Silent Walk* Jordan Nelson & text from Sparks from the Wheel with text by Thomas Hardy & Henry David Thoreau
    featuring Victoria Fox (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Otto (French Horn), & Sarah Gibson (piano) 
  • A Laugh is no Kinging Matter* Julia Adolphe & text by Stephanie Fleischmann
    featuring James Hayden (baritone) & Lisa Sylvester, piano
  • The Abandoned Hive by Bryan Curt Kostors & text by Michelle Brittan 
    • I. On Becoming a Statue 
    • II. The Abandoned Hive 
    • III. On Waking When You’re Already Leaving 
    featuring Alina Roitstein (soprano), Chelsea Chaves (soprano), Lesley Baird (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Miles (tenor), David Castillo (baritone), Sarah Gibson (piano), & Lisa Sylvester (conductor)


About the Composers

Julia Adolphe

Julia Adolphe’s music has been described as “alive with invention” (Alex Ross, The New Y orker), “colorful, mercurial, deftl y orchestrated” (Anthon y T ommasini, The New Y ork Times) displaying “a remarkable gift for sustaining a compelling musical narrative” (Thomas May, Musical America). Adolphe’s works are performed across the U.S. and abroad by renowned orchestras and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, James Conlon and the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus, soprano Hila Plitmann, pianist Gloria Cheng, and the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, among others. Adolphe has received numerous awards including a 2017 ASCAP Young Composer Award, 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, a 2016 OPERA America Discovery Grant, and a 2015 Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters. A native New Yorker living in Los Angeles, Adolphe pursues a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the USC Thornton School of Music.

Jordan Nelson

Jordan Nelson (b. 1984) is a composer of instrumental, vocal, electronic, and electro-acoustic music. Jordan's compositions have been performed by NOW ensemble, Argus Quartet & Lucy Fitz Gibbon, HOCKET, Orchestra 2001, Contemporaneous, USC Thornton Edge, the USC Thornton Symphony, Yale Schola Cantorum, the Hollywood Master Chorale, the Los Robles Master Chorale, WomenSing, and the USC Thornton Chamber Singers, among others. Jordan’s recent projects have included music for soprano and string quartet (Tender Buttons), a piece for violin, cello, and fixed-media electronics (Vox Submersi) commissioned by Lina Bahn and Matt Haimovitz and based upon George Crumb’s ‘Vox Balaenae’, and a work for four violins and spoken word (Ember I Miss You) commissioned by MoVE to be premiered in April 2018. Jordan is currently the acting chair of the Music Theory and Ear Training faculty at the Colburn Conservatory, and he previously taught at West Chester University, the USC Thornton School of Music, and Yale University.

Juhi Bansal

Described as “radiant and transcendent” (New Classic LA), the music of Juhi Bansal takes its inspiration from a disparate set of elements. As an Indian composer brought up in Hong Kong, her pieces draw subtly on those traditions, entwining them closely and intricately with the gestures of classical music. Expressive and emotive, much of her music begins with extramusical origins: visual stills from nature, poetry, or prose. Her works have received numerous awards, including the Five Colleges New Music Festival Competition, ASCAP Lotte Lehman Foundation Art song Competition, Boston Metro Opera International Composers Competition, and multiple ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards. She has been awarded fellowships by the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, the Atlantic Music Center, Seasons Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium, and the Pacific Music Festival. An active conductor as well as composer, Juhi often premieres works of other composers as well as her own. She is currently on the faculty of Pasadena City College.

Bryan Curt Kostors

Bryan Curt Kostors (b. 1979) is a composer of diverse and evocative American music for orchestra, band, choir, chamber groups, soloists, film, multimedia, and dance. The drastic and contrasting landscapes of the American West&madash;desert, basin and range, high mountain peaks, ocean coast&madash;play a prominent role in Kostors’ music, and especially the unique locations surrounding his home in the Owens Valley region of California. A central element of Bryan’s work is the exploration of how place affects sound, visuals, and emotional interpretation, and how the history, landscape, or social aspects of a given geography can be used to create artworks that speak to a wide and varied audience. Kostors is an active music educator, currently teaching composition, music theory, and aural skills at the Thornton School of Music at USC, as well as conducting the wind ensembles at Malibu High School. Kostors has recently been commissioned and had performances by Clairobscur Dance Company in Santa Monica, film scores, and multimedia works.

Sarah Gibson

Sarah Gibson is a composer and pianist who has been called “a serious talent to watch” (Atlanta Journal Constitution). Her music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Lindsay Kesselman, the USC Symphony, L.A. Signal Lab, Aperture Duo, among others. As a pianist, Sarah has performed with many of these ensembles as well as with wildUp, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the Atlanta Symphony. Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, lauded as "brilliant" by the LA Times' Mark Swed. Alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman, she is the Lead Teaching Artist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program.

Jeffrey Parola

Jeffrey Parola is an American composer of numerous orchestral, chamber, and choral/vocal works. His music is varied and eclectic, reflecting a wide range of musical influences. Jeffrey’s recent major professional commissions include Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra, written for clarinetist Paul Green and the Atlantic Classical Orchestra and conductor Stewart Robertson, which premiered to critical acclaim in Florida in March 2014. Most recently, In the World for string quartet and soprano (text by John Muir) was premiered on 4 December 2016 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, commissioned by the Conservatory’s 2016 Hoefer Prize, and performed by the Thalea String Quartet with Marnie Breckenridge, soprano. In 2014, Jeffrey was chosen to be the recipient of the 2016 Hoefer Prize, the highest award granted to distinguished alumni composers from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Jeffrey was most recently honored with the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May of 2016.

Thomas Kotcheff

A native of Los Angeles, Thomas Kotcheff (b. 1988) has been establishing himself in Southern California as a successful composer and pianist. His music has been described as “truly beautiful and inspired” ( and “explosive” (Gramophone magazine). Thomas has been a composition fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's National Composers Intensive, the Aspen Summer Music Festival and School, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Bennington Chamber Music Conference, and attended The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival and the MusicX festival with eighth blackbird. He has been artist in residence at The Byrdcliffe Art Colony, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, The Avaloch Farm Music Institute, The Studios of Key West, and The Hermitage Artist Retreat. As a new music pianist, Thomas has dedicated himself to commissioning and premiering new piano works. He is the pianist and founding member of the Los Angeles based piano duo HOCKET.

About The Performers

Victoria Fox

Victoria Fox had her operatic debut at the age of twelve as a gingerbread cookie in Humperdink’s Hansel und Gretel. It remains one of her most cherished and rewarding artistic accomplishments. Victoria earned her Bachelor of Music at The Lamont School of Music in Denver, Colorado. There she learned the role of Dorabella from Cosi fan Tutte and in 2009, performed the title role in Bizet’s Carmen. Equally comfortable in concert and recital, Victoria has performed as the alto soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and has performed as a soloist in concert with The University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

Chelsea Chaves

Soprano Chelsea Chaves enjoyed a busy 2015-16 season, which included performances with the Astoria Music Festival, Pacific Symphony, the University of Southern California, and Opera Santa Barbara. She was a finalist in the Loren L. Zachary competition and was selected as the 2015 scholarship winner for the Sigma Alpha Iota (Pasadena Chapter) Scholarship Competition, in addition to being a top award winner for the 2016 Santa Barbara Music Club Scholarship.A California native, Ms. Chaves received a Master of Music degree in Vocal Arts/Opera from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Chapman University. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area.

Lesley Baird

Lesley Baird is a creative singer with an extensive background in performance. Lesley is a classically-trained vocalist with a versatile sound and style. She is a poised and charismatic soloist and ensemble performer who works hard to master new repertoire in a broad range of musical styles and who graciously accepts feedback and quickly incorporates it into performance.

Matthew Miles

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Matthew Miles moved to Los Angeles to attend USC for a MM in Vocal Arts. He has sung 25 opera roles and feels equally at home in the choral scene. As a member of the LA Master Chorale, he has sung under numerous conductors, including Grant Gershon, Essa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Lionel Bringer, Nicholas McGegan, Morten Lauridsen, and Eric Whitacre. Miles is the Tenor Soloist / Bell Choir Director at Westwood United Methodist Church, a Major Giving Officer at Classical KUSC, and co-founded the Los Angeles School of Music with his wife, Alana. Together they have a 3-year-old, Michael, and a 16-month old, Olivia.

David Castillo

David Castillo A New Orleans-native performing artist and producer who delivers "impassioned," (LA Times) "beautifully sung and confidently acted" (Opera News) performances in the US and Europe. World Premieres: LA Phil (War of the Worlds, Theatre of the World), The Industry (Hopscotch, Bonnie and Clyde, Galileo), LA Opera (¡Figaro! (90210)) LA Master Chorale (Songs of Ascent), USC Fischer Museum (infinite self), Loyola NOLA (Letters to Santa). Highlights: The Cleveland Orchestra (Pélleas et Mélisande) w/Franz Welser-Möst & Yuval Sharon, LA Phil (Bernstein’s MASS) w/Gustavo Dudamel & Elkhanah Pulitzer, European debut in Paris (Winterreise). Founder & Creative Director: Jukebox Castle.

Alina Roitstein

A versatile vocalist, Alina Roitstein is known for her “beautiful voice and equally beautiful presence” (El Nuevo Herald). Her career spanning jazz and Latin music, chamber music and contemporary works, opera and art song, and choral music has taken her to venues all over the world, including Japan’s Symphony Hall in Osaka, South Korea’s Seoul Arts Centre Concert Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Scotland’s Royal Conservatoire, Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series, Chicago’s Poetry Foundation, and Los Angeles’ REDCAT. One of Alina’s passions is performing new works, and she has premiered pieces by Thomas Kotcheff, Gregory Uhlmann, Allen Menton, David Rentz, Juhi Bansai, Bryan Kostors, Trevor Anderies, David Roitstein, and others.

Matthew Otto

Matt Otto A native of Southern California, Matthew Otto completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in 2016. He holds a Master’s of Music in horn also from USC, and a bachelor’s degree in horn from the University of California, Irvine in 2011. As a member of the Southern California music community, Otto has performed as of the UCI Symphony and USC Thornton Symphony and has been an active freelance musician performing with such artists and composers as Brian McKnight, Danny Elfman, David Newman, Jackie Evancho. He has participated in recording music for the television industry and has performed with the American Youth Symphony and the Young Musician’s Foundation Debut Orchestra.

James Hayden

James Hayden 26, born in Grapevine, Texas, is an operatic bass who loves exploring avant-garde vocal repertoire. Recent notable performances include the role of CIA spymaster Sid Gottlieb in Anne LeBaron’s LSD: The Opera and two concerts with the Rolling Stones on their 50th Anniversary Tour. Mr. Hayden’s voice can be heard on many movie and video game soundtracks, including Star Wars: Episode VII, Godzilla, Minions, Jurassic World, and League of Legends. When not embodying villains or wise priests on the operatic stage, Mr. Hayden writes award-winning pop acapella charts for ensembles in California and Texas. James Hayden is a 2013 graduate of the University of Southern California and sings with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. This is his first summer at Music Academy of the West.

Lisa Sylvester

Lisa Sylvester, is vocal coach and teaches courses in Diction, Vocal Repertoire and Accompanying on Thornton’s Vocal Arts Faculty. She is also faculty coach at OperaViva!, a summer training program for young singers in Verona, Italy. Sought after as coach and recital collaborator, Ms. Sylvester has also given presentations at the conventions and symposiums of the National Opera Association, National Association Teachers of Singing, Classical Singer, and the Song Collaborators’ Consortia. She has long been associated with the acclaimed Long Beach Opera where she has served as assistant conductor/orchestral pianist in their main stage productions of works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Leos Janacek, Osvaldo Golijov, among others. She also serves as Music Director for LBO’s Educational outreach production of The Diary of Anne Frank by Grigori Frid.

An advocate for new vocal music, Sylvester has been on the creative teams for several new works. She conducted scenes from Julia Adolphe’s So Donia Speaks on Chamber Music Palisades, and was Music Director/Conductor for Teresa Levelle’s aLtered sTates on the RealNewArts Foundation series. She served as assistant conductor for two world premieres produced by First Look Sonoma: Caliban Dreams by Clark Syprynowicz and Daughter of the Red Tsar by Lisa Scola Prosek. She has also performed on several seasons of unSUNg, a summer concert series in Los Angeles sponsored by Lauri Goldenhersch, of Lauri’sList dedicated to vocal works uncommon and new.

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