Musical Directors and Board

JOHN BAKER – Artistic Director

John Baker, graduated from Oregon College of Education in the fall of 1979. On February 11, 1980 he stepped into the position as choir director at Rex Putnam High School located in Milwaukie, Oregon, a position he held for 32 years. Mr. Baker received his Master of Music in Education from Western Oregon State College (now Western Oregon University ). He is a frequent clinician, adjudicator and choir retreat specialist around the Pacific Northwest. In the fall of 2008 he was festival clinician at the Bangkok International Choir Festival. Music literacy is a trademark of Mr. Baker’s teaching. He has a Sight-reading/Theory program which is used at many high school and middle schools throughout the Northwest. Developing complete musicians is his passion. During his tenure at Rex Putnam, the choral program consisted of six groups: A Cappella Choir, Choralaires, Vocal Point, Kingsmen Chorus, Cantabile and Beginning Guitar. The Rex Putnam A Cappella Choir and Choralaires have performed at state and regional ACDA and MENC Conventions. The A Cappella Choir was honored to perform at the 2011 ACDA National Convention in Chicago, Ill. Since retirement, Mr. Baker has served as clinician for several honor choirs, workshops, and retreats in Canada, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. He continues to encourage sight reading and musicianship in his presentations. More recently, Mr. Baker began directing the choir at Milwaukie Lutheran Church and is the director and founder of Tilikum Community Choir in Portland, OR.

ANGELA HJERSTEDT – Associate Director

Angela Hjertstedt was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. In 1999, she holds an undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance and a Master’s degree in Education form Portland State University, having the honor of studying under Dr. Bruce Browne, Debbie Glaze, and Christine Meadows. Angela has held a variety of teaching positions, including at Centennial Middle School, where her ensemble was awarded third place in University of Portland’s Best of the Northwest festival, and she was nominated by her students and received a teacher award from a local radio station. She has also taught in musical programs at Rock Creek Middle School, where she helped grow the program to four choirs with 250 students. She is currently teaching part time at Happy Valley Middle School, where she has grown enrollment by 50% in the past year, and where her two sons will attend. Angela is an accomplished pianist, frequently hired to accompany choirs, soloists, and ensembles around Portland. She is also involved in church music ministry, and is often found at Cannon Beach Conference Center as a pianist and vocalist. Angela has taught private voice lessons for 20 years, and even with a small roster due to her day job, has students at the State Solo Championship nearly every year. Angela sang professionally for six years in “Choro in Scuola” under the direction of Dr. Bruce Browne, mentoring and inspiring high school choirs and their directors.

JAMES M WHITE – Board President

James is a native Oregonian who holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Oregon State University. He gained a deep appreciation for music from his parents (Mom was an opera singer, Dad a classical music aficionado), and played clarinet and saxophones at McKay High School in Salem, and in All State ensembles. His son has sung in Portland Boychoir’s Intermediate and Advanced choirs, benefiting from the outstanding learning, social, and performance opportunities that the organization offers.

James has held a variety of leadership positions in information technology, e-commerce, digital marketing, and business operations in the technology industry. He is currently an IT director at Intel. He also served on the founding board of directors of Optimum Learning Environments (now Forest Ridge Elementary), a charter school established in partnership with Salem-Keizer School District.

LAUREN BERG – Treasurer

Bio coming soon!

ANDREA FARLEY – Vice President, Secretary

Andrea was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. She has a BS in Pharmacy from Oregon State University and is a licensed pharmacist in Oregon where she has lived for most of the last 20 years. In June of 2009, Andrea and her family moved to the Netherlands for what was to become a very challenging and rewarding 14-month expat experience. Now back in Oregon, she is a full-time mother of two who volunteers in her children’s classrooms as a general helper, math teaching assistant, and art literacy aide.

Music and the arts have always played a large role in her life. Andrea grew up singing in choirs and playing various instruments, eventually settling on the cello. She strongly believes in the value of music enrichment and the sense of community found within choirs.

Andrea’s son sings in the Advanced Gents choir. They were a Music Together family with director Craig Van Ness, who introduced them to Portland Choirs when her son “graduated” from the MT program. Andrea was impressed from the very first rehearsal by Dr. York’s extraordinary ability to turn the unique challenges presented when teaching boys into learning moments. She finds his dedication to teaching and passion for music to be inspiring, and is firmly committed to supporting his vision and the Portland Choirs’ mission.

STEPHEN ATKINS – Board Member

Bio coming soon!

TOM FOREMANBoard Member

Tom is an Oregon native and received his Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Oregon.  He continued on to study Opera Training at UCLA as well as the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA.  From there he traveled to and lived in Europe for the greater part of a decade where he worked at the Bern Opera House in Switzerland and with a professional radio chorus in Lugano.  Here in Oregon, he sang for the Portland Opera House for many years and as part of the Oregon Bach Festival for 35 years.  He performed with various local choral groups, including Choral Cross Ties, and as a choral member under the direction of our own beloved Dr. David York with the David York Ensemble.  Tom has been a Portland Choirs board member since 2016 adding his perspective as a life-long singer who greatly values the benefits of music education and choral singing.

ADRIAN HARRIS CROWNE Board Member

Adrian Harris Crowne grew up in the Washington, DC area playing jazz and classical piano, singing in school choirs, and performing in musicals throughout most of his childhood. He attended Rice University in Houston, TX where he earned a self-directed BA in Media Arts and met his wife Caroline. After a 6-month honeymoon in France, the two moved to Brooklyn where Caroline attended law school and Adrian rode the initial internet wave as an early web designer.  The family drove cross-country to Portland when their daughter was born.  Now Adrian is a freelance iPhone developer, building apps for a wide range of clients and educational apps for his own tApps Software.

When Adrian’s son was four, he put himself to sleep at night singing and inventing songs. Playing piano seemed to increase his vocal explorations as he pieced together melodies in his head. Joining Portland Boychoir under David York’s direction had an immediate effect: bedtime song became an opportunity to practice singing harmony. He now sings and rings with the Advanced Boys, continues to play piano, and is a percussionist in the school band.

NEYSA TERRY-GRAY – Board Member

Neysa Terry-Gray spent much of her life living and working in foreign countries. As an army brat, she attended many schools both in the US and abroad. She most enjoyed her time in Germany and Turkey because her family loved to travel and visited many interesting places. Neysa graduated with an electrical engineering degree and began her profession in computer design. During her career, she developed the newest technology, such as the first laptop computer weighing less than seven pounds. Because many of the components were manufactured overseas in Asia, Neysa spent considerable time conducting business in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Leading large-scale, multi-national projects kept Neysa busy for most of her career.

Neysa retired early from Intel after she and her husband adopted their daughter and son from Vietnam. Both children took violin lessons from an early age, but their daughter showed a greater interest in singing and wanted to sing a variety of music styles within a group. Ovation Training, an all-girls’ training program that graduates to Ovation! Show Choir, was the perfect group for her to expand her singing and performance skills and learn to work with other singers from diverse backgrounds. Neysa’s daughter advanced to Ovation! last year and is now enjoying all that comes with singing within a larger, coed ensemble.

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