Past Guest Artists
James Elias Pick (Composer)
James Pick is a pianist, accompanist, composer, and teacher based in the Portland area. He earned his B.A. in Music Theory/Composition and Piano Performance (’11) at George Fox University. He now serves Bethel Lutheran Church as music director, overseeing Sunday and mid-week services, worship teams, choir and handbell programs, and anything else musical. James teaches piano lessons through his private studio in Ridgefield, WA and Opus School of Music, where he has taught since 2012. Though he primarily teaches children and teenagers, he has students of all ages.
James has been very active as a composer. Recent projects include co-composing and music directing full-length musical, O Little Town; Stories of Newberg (’14) with Valley Repertory Theater, and original music composed and performed live for Westside Christian High School’s, I Never Saw Another Butterfly (’12). While a student at George Fox University, he was the two-time winner of the Iron Composer Challenge Award (’09-’10). Before that, he won 1st Place (’08), 2nd Place (’07), and Honorable Mention, (’06) for his works in the Guild Composition Competition.
Film score credits include full-length film, Gabby’s Wish (’12), Redemption (’10), Arrive Alive (’10), Two Years (’10), Change of Heart (’07), and At My Door (’06). He also orchestrated musical theater productions Pocahontas (’09), The Jungle Book (for which he also composed original music) (’08-’09), and Heart and Music; a revue of contemporary musical theater (’08-’11).
James is a true lover of music for its ability to express what words cannot and the connection that musicians share when performing together. He hopes you will enjoy sharing music with him.
Sam Rhoton (Bassoon)
Samuel Rhoton is a 17-year old bassoonist who is deeply in love with classical music. From a young age, Sam has had the influence of classical music in his life, from watching cartoons with orchestral background music to his mother playing Mozart for him while he slept. Sam came to the Bassoon when his 6th grade band director requested he change from Trumpet to Bassoon, and it’s a choice he has not looked back from.
Since, Sam has been very fortunate to have wonderful opportunities to play his Bassoon. He has sat top chair in many prestigious groups such as: Salem All-City Honor Band, OSAA All-State Honor Orchestra, and All-Northwest Honor Band. He has also been fortunate enough to be able to be a member of Salem Youth Symphony Philharmonia and Symphony as well as the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, and many other chamber music groups notably with his Bassoon Quartet, “The Rubber Reeds,” and “Hamilton” Wood Wind Quartet. Over the past couple of years Sam has been able to participate in both Rocky Ridge Music Center Young Artist Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado, as well as Marrowstone Music Festival in Bellingham, Washington. Sam has won his district solo competition the past two years, and he has competed at state level, winning 2nd as a freshman and 1st as a sophomore. Sam has also been fortunate enough to be a featured member of the Salem Youth Symphony in 2013 as well as being featured on “On Deck with Young Musicians with Christa Wessel” on 89.9 FM. In 2014, Sam was also given the opportunity to perform the Weber Bassoon Concerto with the Tualitan Valley Symphony in an annual autumn concert.
As of now, Sam is a Junior at West Salem High School and sits 1st Chair in both Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra. He studies with Ann Kosanovic-Brown, a former member of the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as an avid teacher at OSU and Willamette University. Sam dreams big and hopes to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Sam loves the Weber Bassoon concerto and finds it to be one of his favorites. “I find the operatic gestures and motifs to be very ‘Bassoony.'” Sam says he can really get into this piece as it brings him back to the days that he would act in school musicals and plays by allowing him to assume the very different characters of each movement. He wants you to listen for themes of a “Pompous General returning from war to find his family missing” in the first movement, to a “Distraught lover, as the love of his life only lives through his memories,” and to finish “A Clown… who’s in a race with the orchestra as he tries bring a light-heartedness to the audience.” “The Weber Concerto is one of my favorites and the fact that I have received this opportunity to play it again, is a dream come true,” says Rhoton.
Dr. Susan Smith (Piano)
A native of Portland, Oregon, pianist Susan DeWitt Smith has an active career as both a soloist and chamber musician. She has performed as a soloist with the Oregon Symphony, and on subscription series with the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Columbia Symphony, Palomar Symphony, and the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. Highly regarded as a chamber musician, Dr. Smith has performed in chamber music festivals throughout the United States, New Zealand, and Asia, including Thailand and China. Currently an Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Piano Program at Lewis & Clark college, she is also a member of Portland’s highly regarded new music ensemble, Third Angle. A graduate of Dartmouth College, she earned her MM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Smith has recorded extensively on the KOCH International Classics label.
Jason Pegis (Cello)
Jason started cello in school at age 12 and started lessons at the late age of 16 with Page Smith in Shoreline, WA. He comes from a family of string players and quickly grew to love the cello. He stays active as a full-time Willamette University music major finishing his last year. He has been principal cellist of the Willamette University Chamber Orchestra since his freshman year, and plays as a section cellist in the Salem Chamber Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, Jason was a member of the Waller Piano Trio, gaining national recognition when they placed as national finalists of the 2014 MTNA Chamber Music Competition, representing Oregon and the Northwest. Jason also was awarded the 2014 Mu Phi Epsilon Eleanor Hale Wilson Cello Scholarship and Summer Scholarship. Aside from winning Willamette’s Concerto Competition in 2013, Jason won the 2015 Eugene Symphony Young Artist Competition and Most Outstanding Cellist Award. He performed as a soloist with the symphony in July. To distract himself from upcoming graduate school applications and auditions, Jason is currently exploring free improvisation and jazz to develop as a well-rounded musician. He enjoys going to cello festivals in the summer, and has been a board member of the Oregon Symphony Association in Salem since last year. He currently studies with Jason Duckles at Willamette.
Nathan Kim (Piano)
Nathan studies with Dr. Renato Fabbro of the University of Portland piano faculty and is a sophomore at Newberg High School. He has performed in prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Mondavi Center, and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to name a few. Numerous accolades have been bestowed upon Nathan for his striking abilities as a young pianist and musician, and he made his orchestral debut in 2011 at the Newmark Theatre followed by a performance in the Soreng Theatre with the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra. He won First Prize in the 2013 Central Oregon Symphony Young Artists Competition followed by the 2014 American Protégé International Piano Concerto Competition and American Fine Arts Festival International Concerto Competition, where he was chosen Grand Prize winner. In 2015, he won First Prizes in the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra National Young Artist Competition and the Vancouver (WA) Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition and performed two concerts with both orchestras, while winning the 2015 Portland Youth Philharmonic Piano Concerto Competition to perform with their orchestra in November.
Nathan has also won First Prizes in the 2015 American Association for Development of the Gifted and Talented International Young Gifted Musicians Festival Competition, 2014 Wiscarson Young Artist Competition, 2013 Mondavi Center National Young Artist Competition, and is a four‐time Winner of the Oregon MTNA, 2015 MTNA NW Division Winner, and 2015 MTNA National Finalist in the Junior Piano Competition. He has performed live on KPBX 91.1 FM and was featured on 89.9 KQAC FM.
Erik Schmauss (composer)
Erik Schmauss is a Japanese-American musician of diverse interests residing in the Portland metro area. He is inspired by works of Walt Whitman, theoretical mathematics, visual ambiguities caused from his partial color blindness, and the people he encounters throughout his life. Erik composes music to form bonds with other musicians and local communities by devoting his creative energy toward writing solo and chamber music for small settings.
Erik has collaborated with Portland State University’s New Music Ensemble, musicians from the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium, marimba soloist Leila Hawana, saxophonist Linse Sullivan, cellist Kris Duke, and many others. He graduated from Portland State University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition where he studied with Bryan Johanson, Bonnie Miksch, Renée Favand-See, and studied euphonium with Oregon
Symphony’s principal tubist JáTtik Clark. He has performed euphonium with a variety of groups such as Festival Brass, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Aurora Colony Preservation Quartet, and Luz Mendoza. Erik also has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Mathematics and combines his interests in math, music, and computers to create music that embodies the coexistence of art and science.
Stephanie Thompson (Keyboard)
Stephanie Thompson was raised in Oregon and received her Bachelor’s of Music from Willamette University, studying with Jean-David Coen. She then went to Los Angeles and received her Master’s in Music from the University of Southern California, studying with Antoinette Perry. She is an alumni of the Aspen Music Festival and a long time member of Daniel Pollack’s piano master class in Seattle, WA. Since 2002, Stephanie has taught classical piano and piano accompanying at Lewis and Clark college, where she is also the staff piano accompanist for the choral program. She is a founding member of the faculty new music ensemble, The Friends of Rain. She is also the director of Music for University Park United Methodist Church. She lives in NE Portland with her husband and daughter.
Phyllis Louke (Flute)
Phyllis Louke is principal flute with the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and the Oregon Symphonic Band, Music Director of Rose City Flute Choir, and adjudicates, teaches privately, and freelances in Portland, Oregon. She has performed as a soloist with Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Arts Orchestra, Oregon Symphonic Band, and Rose City Flute Choir. She has performed, conducted, and presented workshops at National Flute Association Conventions and has performed internationally in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Chile, China, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, Slovenia, and Turkey, and as soloist with the Oregon Arts Orchestra on their 2013 tour of Italy. Ms. Louke also played bass and contrabass flute on seven CDs with the National Flute Choir.
Dan Crane (Violin)
Dan Crane is concertmaster of the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra (OPACO), and has served as guest concertmaster for the Jewish Community Orchestra. Having received his orchestral start with Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony, he studied violin performance under Lajos Balogh and William Hunt at Marylhurst University. In addition to OPACO, Mr. Crane has performed with the Portland Festival Symphony, the Newport Symphony, and freelanced with several others. He has appeared as a soloist with both OPACO and Marylhurst Symphony in concertos by Bach, Mendelssohn, Lalo, and Kabalevsky, as well as the premiere of several new violin solo compositions. In addition to his orchestral performance activities, Mr. Crane enjoys coaching youth, guest conducting, and is very passionate about the string quartet medium and literature.