Roberta Q. Jackson & Debra D. Burgess
Co-Conductors of Portland Symphonic Girlchoir
Roberta Jackson and Debra Burgess have led the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir, widely acclaimed by composers, conductors, music educators, and audiences, to its current status as one of the finest youth choirs in North America. Roberta and Deb have been selected to be guest conductors at Carnegie Hall in June 2024, are chapter authors in Working With Young Singers: Educational Philosophies of Expert Chidren’s Choir Conductors Volume II, and have been recognized for their focus on collaboration over competition as reflected in their article, “The Better C: Building Community Through Collaboration” in March 2016 The Choral Journal publication of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and inclusion in Dr. Janet Galvan’s “Women Choral Conductors and Clinicians You Need to Know”, where she states, “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”.
Both conductors are frequent presenters at National ACDA conferences, Chorus America conferences, OMEA conferences, and at Oregon ACDA and NWACDA conferences and led the Girlchoir to winning two ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming! In addition, Roberta was awarded the 2018 Oregon ACDA Podium Award.
Roberta received her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado; Deb received her B.A.E. Degree from Pacific Lutheran University. Both have been awarded the distinguished Artist Teacher Diploma from the Choral Music Experience Institute, working with Dr. Doreen Rao. Deb has served on the NW and OR ACDA Boards of Directors as R & R Chair for Children and Youth and currently teaches music, grades K – 8, at St. Thomas More School. As Girlchoir’s Vocal Coach, she presents fall and spring solo clinics, training nearly 40 % of its members as soloists each season.
Roberta and Deb are very thankful for every note and every moment they spend making amazing music with the singers in Portland Symphonic Girlchoir!
Pianist, Premier Choir &
Rodney Menn has specialized in accompanying and coaching classical singers for more than 35 years. A student of coach-accompanist Harold Heiberg and vocal pedagogue and researcher John Large, he has presented recitals with hundreds of singers throughout the United States and in Europe. Mr. Menn has worked as pianist and coach for Portland Opera, Dallas Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Augusta Opera, Boise Opera, Portland Summerfest, Astoria Music Festival, Concert Opera of Manhattan, Newport (RI) Music Festival, and Westchester Lyric Festival. His varied musical activities have included serving as Assistant Conductor of Portland’s Columbia Symphony, teaching voice at George Fox University, and teaching classes at Portland State University. Mr.Menn was also the official accompanist for the Oregon District Metropolitan Opera Auditions for 24 years. He maintains a busy private studio teaching and coaching singers. Rodney joined the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir in August 2010 as pianist for the Encore Singers and Premier Choir. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, gardening, and home winemaking, and is currently obsessed with Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, and dreams of someday moving to Italy.
Pianist, Debut & Intermezzo Choirs
Liz Kohl is a pianist, piano/yoga instructor, collaborative musician, and composer based in Portland, Oregon. Since 2016, Liz has been an adjunct faculty member of the music department at Portland State University, where she teaches her original course, “Yoga for Musicians.” She maintains a thriving, private piano studio in SE Portland, teaching students of all ages. An in-demand collaborative musician, Liz can often be found playing with local musicians, subbing at churches, playing for weddings and working with Columbia Chorale. In March of 2023, Liz released her first two albums of original music with an acclaimed concert at the Old Church. Her music is now available for streaming on all major platforms. Liz holds degrees from University of Washington (B.A. in Music & Dance Minor) and Baylor University (M.M. in Piano Performance & Pedagogy) as well as a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification (CorePower Yoga, Portland, OR). Liz joined the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir in August 2023 as pianist for the Debut and Intermezzo Choirs.
Lisa VanNatta joined the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir as Operations Manager in December 2019. She works diligently to ensure that the organization runs smoothly on the administrative front. She has a varied educational background with a M.S. in Geography from Oregon State University and a B.S. in computer science, and math from Willamette University where she also studied music. More recently she has spent extensive time working with non-profits, running fundraising events for her son’s school and sitting on the board of pdxAMBUCS.
Board of Directors:
Jennifer Baker, Chair
Lucy Neary, Secretary
Michele McCarthy, Treasurer
Roberta Q. Jackson