Awards & Accolades

Women Choral Conductors and Clinicians You Need to know
By Dr. Janet Galvan
March 21, 2021
Roberta Jackson and Debra Burgess
Why am I Listing these women together when each is so deserving as a clinician?
……..Because that is how they list themselves on the website of the Portland Symphonic
Girlchoir. My original intent was to do two separate features. However, they even merge
their bios on the website. In addition to highlighting what fine artist teachers they are, I want
to point to a shining example of teamwork that serves the singers. They checked their egos
years ago and share leadership in a seamless and beautiful way. People have praised me
for shining the light on others – these two live to shine the light on others. Many of us have
been their clinician for their annual festival. They make themselves background servant
leaders for the entire weekend. This is such a rich, deep, and beautiful musical partnership
that is an exemplary example of putting the singers first. Thank you, Roberta and Debra, for
Showing us how this can be done!
Girlchoir was awarded the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming in 2015 and 2003, received a 2010 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was the first choir to be featured on “Art Beat”, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s award-winning program, and were featured Artists-in-Residence for the 20th Anniversary Choral Music Institute held in York, England, in 2006.

“The Girlchoir is remarkable. The Portland Symphonic Girlchoir is an important organization and it is a privilege to be associated with you.” Conductor, Master Teacher, Author, Editor - Dr. Doreen Rao

"Thank you for your devotion, discipline and passion in bringing We Are A Choir, (and some of you, as many as four other works) to life! This has been an amazing journey, full of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and, hopefully, a great deal of fun! Thank you also for your thoughtful questions, your positive attitude and your beautiful voices. We have shared a lot together. You will always have a place in my heart, and you definitely have the most “fabulous feet” in the world! Never stop singing!" Composer - Daniel Brewbaker

“In my time with the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir, I was moved by the community that is present among the singers. It is a family that co-conductors Deb Burgess and Roberta Jackson have established.  Furthermore, I am in awe at the organization’s commitment to new music.  With over 40 works commissioned by their organization, choirs the world over benefit from their generous contribution to the art form.  The warmth and openness of the singers—a reflection of their teachers, made my time in Portland an absolute delight. It was an honor to compose a new work for them and I hope our paths cross again.”  - Dr. Andrea Ramsey


“Congratulations!  So well-deserved (ASCAP Award)!  There's no question that the PSG has made major contributions to treble chorus literature and is truly expert at adventuresome programming. Truly, my collaborations with PSG and its directors have been significant contributions to my growth as a composer and arranger. Bravi tutti!”  Composer - Lee Kesselman


"Congratulations to the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir on their spring concert performance.  Each ensemble performed with energy, expression and a level of artistry that demonstrates a genuine passion for the choral art. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Co-directors Roberta Jackson and Debra Burgess for their commitment to not just choral excellence, but to creating an inclusive choral community that empowers young women to value their voices and who they are as human beings." - Dr. Rollo Dilworth


“Your chorus sounds excellent. Your rendition of I THANK YOU GOD was most inspired! Bravo to you!” 

Composer - Gwyneth Walker