Derrick Lawrence, Clarence Penn, & Emily Sung Join USC Thornton Faculty

By Logan Martell

USC Thornton has announced three new faculty members who will join the school in the fall 2023 semester: baritone Derrick Lawrence, drummer Clarence Penn, and choral conductor Emily Sung.

Named assistant professor of practice in their Vocal Arts & Opera program, Lawrence has performed over 80 roles with companies such as Opera Philadelphia, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, National Theater Prague, and more.

“I am really looking forward to working with the students,” Lawrence said in an official press statement. “I met the Vocal Arts & Opera faculty for dinner, and I told them, ‘Well, you know, this is like a small family here.’ I look forward to joining that family. It takes a community to build voices, and to give students the proper tools.”

Also named an assistant professor of practice with their Jazz Studies program, Penn brings experience as a drummer as well as a composer and producer of music. He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards and a Juno Award, with his works being featured in commercials as well as film, and has served as the drum clinician at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Intensive Jazz Institute.

“As an incoming faculty, I am most looking forward to the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with the next generation of musicians,” Penn added. “I’m excited to work with talented and driven students who are passionate about music, and help them develop their skills and reach their full potential.”

Appointed as the same in their Department of Choral & Sacred Music, Sung has worked with professional, collegiate, and youth choral ensembles. She has previously served as the associate director of choral activities at Princeton University, the director of the Chamber Choir and Choral Society at the University of Pennsylvania, and the conducting faculty of Temple University. She was assistant choral master for Opera Philadelphia from 2016-2019, and is the co-artistic director of Suara, a new LA-based choir dedicated to Southeast Asian Choral works.

“As a faculty member, I’m looking forward to fostering my students’ freedom to explore and chart their own path,” added Sung. “Teaching choral music at USC Thornton will be a tremendous and exciting honor. I can’t wait to continue working in an amazing department that already feels like home.”