Led by founder and artistic director Mia Hall Miller, Pacific Youth Choir’s staff is made up of outstanding musical professionals and dedicated, creative administrative staff.
Mia Hall Miller
With more than 25 years of choral education experience, Mia’s dedication and enthusiasm for working with young people is widely recognized. In addition to directing PYC, Mia is a popular adjudicator and clinician. She has conducted the Oregon Music Educators Association, All-State Elementary Choir, Middle School Girl’s Honor Choir, Pacific University’s “Music in May,” and many high school clinics and festivals.
Mia holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from the University of Oregon. She studied further in Stuttgart, Germany while singing with outstanding choral directors Helmuth Rilling and Frieder Bernius. She continues conducting studies in workshops with Dr. Rodney Eichenberger. Mia is a member of Americ Choral Directors Association and has served as membership chair for Oregon and co-Chair of the Middle School Honor Choir.
In 2003 she founded Pacific Youth Choir, which has grown to include 250 singers in 11 choirs. PYC in residence at Trinity Cathedral has gained a reputation for quality that has led to continuing collaborations with Oregon’s top musical organizations including: Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Eugene Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theater, Whitebird Dance, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Trinity Choir, and Thomas Lauderdale and Pink Martini in performances and recordings. PYC was honored to perform at ACDA conventions in 2008 in Vancouver, BC, the 50th Anniversary National ACDA Convention in Oklahoma City, March 2009, and the 2012 convention in Seattle, WA.
Kaeli has been involved with Pacific Youth Choir since its inception in 2003 and has been singing with Mia Hall Savage since the 3rd grade. In addition to her role at PYC, Kaeli sings with the choir at St. Michael and All Angels Church in NE Portland and teaches private voice lessons. Kaeli has always loved singing in choirs and has had the honor of working with fantastic directors including Steve Peter, Sharon Paul, Ethan Sperry, Anton Armstrong and of course Mia Hall Savage.
A Portland native, Kaeli attended Cleveland High School and participated in the choir program there. She credits her high school experience, both at Cleveland and PYC, with helping her to discover her love for teaching music. Kaeli holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Teaching Certificate from the University of Oregon and is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Conducting at Portland State University.
Mark Woodward is an energetic, in-demand young conductor and educator, composer, and tenor soloist. He conducts PYC's Boychoir and co-conducts Cascadia with Kaeli Porter. He is also on faculty at Multnomah Arts Center where he directs the Multnomah Chorus.
Mark is invested in bringing the arts to underserved communities. He serves as Program Director and Teaching Artist for Oregon BRAVO Youth Orchestras—a time-intensive, El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra whose aim is social change through music.
Mark holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Missouri where he taught courses in music theory. He was awarded Portland Vocal Consort's "Best of the Northwest: Young Composer Award" in 2012 and is a recipient of the Sinquefield Prize in Composition. He currently maintains a private studio in SE where he teaches voice, piano, and composition.
Pianist – Nova and Music Maker
A pianist most of her life, Amy earned a bachelor degree in music from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she received the Emma Baugh Scholarship for Piano. She continued her studies – also on merit scholarship – at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, taking courses in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Piano Pedagogy. Amy currently accompanies for the Stafford Primary School choir and at churches, and teaches piano lessons, in addition to homeschooling her son.
Oliver attended the Lübeck Musik Academy in Germany during high school and continued his college studies at the Munich Academy of Music. He completed his bachelor degree at the University of Oregon under Dean Kramer. Oliver has an active teaching and adjudicating schedule, and his students have been prize winners at OMTA competitions. he has performed with various choirs and soloists in the Portland area.
Ruth brings a background in marketing, administration, graphic design, and volunteer coordination to her position with the choir, with whom she has served since its inception in 2003. Previous positions include creative services director of SmartStuff Software, freelance graphic design, and volunteer coordination for the First Presbyterian Church Youth Choirs. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Colorado.
As a choral conductor, Dr. Tuomi has toured internationally with the Pacific University Chamber Singers. He has appeared as guest conductor, adjudicator, and choral clinician for music festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Tuomi is currently Music Deparment chair and director of choral and vocal studies at Pacific University where he conducts the Pacific University Chamber Singers and Concert Choir. In addition, he maintains a private vocal studio in Portland and is director of music at St. Michael and All-Angels Episcopal Church where he conducts the 50-voice St. Michael's Singers. He is a founding member of the professional vocal ensemble Choral Cross-Ties and maintains an active performance schedule both as tenor soloist and choral conductor. Dr. Tuomi appears in recordings on the Freshwater and Narada labels, and is featured as Mr. Splinters on Koch International's world premier chamber recording of Aaron Copeland's opera "Tender Land." He holds a doctorate in vocal performance and musicology from the University of Arizona.
Amy Fickenscher conducts Nova and Music Makers, our elementary choirs. Before joining us, Amy served on the artistic faculty of the San Francisco Girls Chorus from 2009-2012. She was the Interim Co-Artistic Director of the Bay Area Women's Vocal Ensemble, Musae, in which she was also a singer-member for two seasons.
Amy holds a Bachelor and a Master of Music in Music Education from the University of Oregon. She was an elementary music specialist in the Los Gatos Union School District in Los Gatos, CA and the South Lane County School District in Cottage Grove, OR. She holds Level 1 and Level 2 Kodály Certifications as well as Level I Orff Schulwerk Certification.
Michael Barnes has accompanied singers and instrumentalists of all ages since his earliest years in Seattle. He is heard on several CDs and has played for Pavarotti, Sarah Brightman, Dawn Upshaw, and visiting singers from the Chicago Lyric, Houston Grand, and Metropolitan Operas. He has taxied Sherill Milnes in his car and hugged Marilyn Horne. No coward, he has toured tirelessly for Community Concerts and is one timid third of the hapless and hilarious comedy troupe "The BoZoArtZ Duo."
He collaborates with the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, the Bravo! Vancouver Chorale, Portland Opera, Portland State University, Marylhurst University, and holds sway over the noon concert series at The Old Church. He is the organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church and assists at Temple Beth Israel and Sixth Church of Christ Scientist.
An accomplished and versatile pianist, Janet Coleman is in great demand throughout the Northwest, and has been presented with recitalists in Europe, Central America, and across the United States. Widely regarded as a world-class accompanist, she has collaborated with hundreds of singers and instrumentalists, and has shared the stage with such artists as Marilyn Horne, Richard Stoltzman, Janos Starker and Charles Wadsworth.
As featured soloist, Janet has appeared with the Salem Chamber Orchestra, the Southwest Washington Symphony, and the Oregon Symphony; as chamber musician, she was the pianist for several World Premiere performances with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Fear No Music, and the Portland Chamber Orchestra.
Elizabeth Caswell holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance summa cum laude from Augustana College, and Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Iowa. Her principal teachers were Sharon Kleinhuizen, Arthur Rowe, and Uriel Tsachor; she has studied with Leon Fleisher, Martin Canin, and Mitsuko Uchida. Professor Caswell made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1996, and was a member of the piano faculty at New York University. She has performed at Lincoln Center, Town Hall, and on concert tours throughout the United States and Europe.
Professor Caswell is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music with Oregon Music Teachers Association, and is an experienced Piano Adjudicator with MTNA, National Federation of Music Clubs, and OMEA. She is an active volunteer at her children’s schools and was selected as the 2013 Oregon Young Mother of the Year.