Past Guest Artists

Past Guest Artists

Ilian Lundberg

Ilian Lundberg (Composer)

Winner of the 2017 Cole Composition Prize. Featured on OPACO’s Symphonic Voices concert, May 20, 2017

Renee Zhang

Renee Zhang (Violin)

Winner of the 2017 Emerging Artist Solo Competition. Featured on OPACO’s Symphonic Voices concert, May 20, 2017
Renee Zhang is a senior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon, where she maintains a 4.49 GPA. She has been playing the violin and the piano for over 11 years since she first started at the age of 5. Since then, she has been a consistent participant and winner in both violin and piano competitions, including the OMTA Classical, Ensemble, Contemporary, and Romantic Festivals, the Trula Whelan Concerto Competition, and the Scholarship Awards Competition.

Renee was one of the winners in the Jewish Community Orchestra of Portland’s Young Artists competition and played Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with the orchestra on February 8, 2015. She was also one of the winners of the 2015 Monday Musical Club Scholarship Competition, winning a $1,500 scholarship. She currently studies with Kathryn Gray, a retired Oregon Symphony musician.

Last year, Renee was also the MYS Concerto Competition winner, and performed the entire Wieniawski Concerto No. 2 on June 6, 2015 with the MYS Symphony Orchestra, of which she is the concertmaster. She also later performed the first movement of this concerto with the Symphony Orchestra at the annual Waterfront Concert on September 3, 2015. This year, she is again a principal player with the MYS organization, where she plays in the organization’s top chamber ensemble MYSfits. In addition, Renee is the concertmaster of her school orchestra and the first violinist in her school’s top chamber ensemble.

Nita Van Pelt

Nita Van Pelt (Clarinet)

Featured on OPACO’s Classical Series concert, March 11, 2017
The clarinet came into Nita Van Pelt’s life when she was nine years old. It immediately became a favorite. Nita studied with Jim Buchmann and John Stehn in the Portland, OR area and played at Sunset High School in Beaverton. The clarinet then lead her to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio where she studied with Larry McDonald. While at Oberlin she earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Education Degrees. Her public school teaching career started in Elyria, Ohio teaching band and orchestra for 5 years. She also was Assistant Conductor with the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra. Nita came back to Oregon in 1986 and started in on what would become her 30 year tenure at the Lake Oswego Public Schools teaching primarily string orchestras. Nita retired in 2016 from a total of 35 years teaching. She was awarded the Distinguished Music Education Alumna Award from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Mary V. Dodge Award from the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Nita will continue as the conductor of the Interlude Orchestra with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and as Principal Clarinet with OPACO. Playing the clarinet is now her primary focus and fun!

James Elias Pick

James Elias Pick (Composer)

Winner of the 2016 Cole Composition Prize. Featured on OPACO’s In The Shadow of Beethoven concert, June 4, 2016
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

Sam Rhoton (Bassoon)

Winner of the 2016 Emerging Artist Solo Competition. Featured on OPACO’s Spring Classics concert, March 12, 2016
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.

Erik Schmauss

Erik Schmauss (composer)

Winner of the 2015 Cole Composition Prize. Featured on OPACO’s Vines of Spring concert, May 30, 2015
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

Stephanie Thompson (Piano)

Featured on OPACO’s Winter in Vienna concert, December 14, 2014
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

Phyllis Louke (Flute)

Featured on OPACO’s Winter in Vienna concert, December 14, 2014
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

Dan Crane (Violin)

Featured on OPACO’s Winter in Vienna concert, December 14, 2014
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.