About Us

Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras is a regional, 501(c)(3) non-profit orchestral association dedicated to enriching the greater Portland/Vancouver community through inspiring live musical performances and meaningful music education and community outreach.

The OPACO organization is home to:

  • The Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra – is a regional, semi-professional chamber orchestra that is committed to providing engaging and entertaining cultural experiences through its diverse musical programs that showcase some of the best orchestral and solo talent from the region. Under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Specht, the orchestra has been hailed by critics as “one of the premiere performance ensembles in Portland” and its performances described as “exhilarating and spectacular!” Each season, the orchestra presents an average of 6 concerts that feature some of the greatest masterworks and new music, as well as some of the finest guest artists from the region and abroad. Each year, OPACO also hosts two nationally-recognized competitions:
    • The John “Jack” Kenneth Cole Annual Composition Prize for Young Composers
      Each spring, young composers up to the age of 25 submit new works for chamber orchestra. The winner of the competition receives a cash prize and a premiere of their work by the orchestra. The prize was set up through a generous gift by Jack and Dallas Cole as a vehicle for encouraging young composers to create new music for the chamber orchestra medium.
    • The Emerging Artist Solo Competition
      This competition showcases regional young solo talent. Each year, young musicians who are just emerging in their musical careers submit audition recordings in early Summer. Several finalists are chosen to compete in a public final-round recital the following Fall. The winner receives a cash prize and the opportunity to appear as a soloist with the orchestra in a professional engagement.

    In 2006, OPACO traveled by invitation to Portland’s sister city of Sapporo, Japan, for a concert commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Sapporo Philharmonic.

  • Youth Orchestra Program (OPAYCO) – In the OPACO Youth Orchestra Program, students are a part of a unique and friendly musical community of passionate young musicians, highly skilled conductors, and world-class professional musicians from throughout the Greater Portland/Vancouver metro area. Students have the exciting opportunity to perform major repertoire in a more one-on-one chamber orchestra or wind ensemble format, develop advanced musicianship by participating in small chamber ensembles, study applied music theory, and receive expert guidance from some of Portland’s finest musicians.

OPACO is maintained by generous donations from organizations and individuals like you. Share your love for music by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras. Your generous support makes it possible for OPACO to fulfill its mission and bring enriching cultural opportunities to the community!

Oregon Pro Arte Mission

To provide the community with inspired musical performance, diverse musical education, and entertainment as an outreach to all ages to promote musical experience and appreciation.

To provide talented musicians an avenue to share their gifts, to increase their knowledge, and to participate in an organization that capitalizes on the individual’s musicianship and love of music.

To provide an environment that fosters and promotes the highest levels of musical discipline, personal character, and recognition of the value for charitable enterprise.


About the Organization

Founded in 2001 with the goal of providing talented adult musicians an outlet with which to share their gifts with the community, Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras is now an organization that hosts two orchestras: OPACO, our adult orchestra, and OPAYCO, for talented young musicians.

In November of 2001, a small group of musicians with a common vision came together. That vision was to provide talented musicians an outlet to share their gifts with the community: to learn, to enjoy, and to participate within an organization that desires to achieve something more than just a place to play. From the beginning, the members have been strongly committed to the need to be both innovative and stable while also offering a different musical experience.

January 2002 marked a whirlwind of development and growth. We filed for Oregon non-profit status and IRS 501(c)(3) recognition and became an established entity. We now needed to be a real chamber orchestra to attract and retain top talent. Most musicians who enjoy chamber orchestral work also love small-group ensembles; thus, some of our first public performances were by trios, quartets, and quintets. OPACO became committed to maintaining our ensemble groups, which led us to community, civic, and regional performances, and raised our visibility as a viable group.

We ultimately found that simply playing good music was not enough – there were many more opportunities for OPACO to contribute locally. Parents and community leaders approached orchestra management with the idea of forming the first youth chamber orchestra in Oregon. With a great deal of excitement and support, the Oregon Pro Arte Youth Chamber Orchestra (OPAYCO) debuted in the summer of 2003. This performing chamber orchestra consists of 45 talented young musicians who range in age from 13 to 23.

Two years later, we recognized that there were many young musicians whom we had to turn away until they reached appropriate levels of age or skill. In 2005 we created the Pro Arte Conservatory Strings (PACS) to provide less-experienced young players with a formative orchestral experience.

The contributions of our musicians in terms of time, energy, and commitment to success are unparalleled. This, coupled with dedicated leadership by a proactive board of directors to guide OPACO’s growth and development, has resulted in a growing, healthy organization devoted to top-quality musical performance.


Executive Staff

Dr. Jeff Specht

Dr. Jeffrey Specht

Artistic Director


Youth Artistic Staff

Dr. Jeff Specht Amy Roesler Dr. Sharon Eng

Dr. Jeffrey

Ms. Amy

Dr. Sharon

2015-2016 Board of Directors

Galen Breckenridge, President
Karen Zaganiacz, Treasurer
Kathryn Walter, Secretary
Park Llafet, Director
Thomas Sjostrom, Director
Ben Wolf, Director
Leaha Ziegler, Director



Cathy Ross, Librarian
Kristen Huerta, Volunteer Coordinator
Ben Wolf, Webmaster