Board of Directors:
Jennifer Baker, Chair
Lucy Neary, Secretary
Michele McCarthy, Treasurer
Roberta Q. Jackson
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
Tim Ribner is a collaborative pianist, composer, improviser, educator, and sound enthusiast. His work with the National Dance Institute brought him to schools around New York City, where he accompanied live dance classes. Similarly, as musical director for the Colorado-based program Celebrate the Beat, Tim worked in schools and at the Vail Dance Festival, at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp in Alaska, and with youth in Mexico and Ethiopia. Tim’s theater work includes productions at Westminster Choir College, Columbia University, Harlem School of the Arts, Northwest Children’s Theater (Portland, OR), and Portland Center Stage. Other work in Portland includes instruction at the PHAME Academy, composition and performance at the Skinner/Kirk Dance ensemble, and choral accompaniment for Portland Public Schools. He has also worked closely with Dr. Nicole Lamartine, arranging and accompanying for her University of Wyoming choirs. Tim studied choral accompaniment at Westminster Choir College (New Jersey), attained a BFA in jazz and contemporary music from the New School (New York), and an MSW from Pacific University (Oregon). Along with his musical pursuits, he serves as a school social worker in the Beaverton School District. We are very excited to welcome Tim into the Girlchoir family as our pianist for Debut and Intermezzo Choirs entering our 34th Season!
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.