Pacific Youth Choir’s staff is made up of outstanding musical professionals and dedicated, creative administrative staff. We are excited to have John Baker serve as our Interim Artistic Director for our 20th Anniversary season 2022-2023!
Christopher Maunu ♦ Artistic Director
Chris Maunu is the newly appointed Artistic Director at the renowned Pacific Youth Choir in Portland, OR. He spent the previous 17 years as the Director of choral Activities at Arvada West High School in Colorado and 7 years as Co-Artistic Director of the professional Anima Chamber Ensemble. A 4-time Finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year Award and 2-time winner of the CMA National Music Teacher of Excellence Award, Chris is a passionate advocate for music education. Choirs under Maunu's direction have appeared at 13 national, regional, and state music conferences of ACDA and MEA. They have won the American Prize in Choral Performance and the Gold Diploma at the Rimini International Choir Competition. His ensembles have presented solo concerts at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago and Minneapolis, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has conducted High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome and St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.
Maunu has enjoyed serving as guest clinician for all-state and festival choirs from Hawaii to England and many areas in between. He is a contributing author to "The Choral Conductor's Companion," published by GIA, as well as having had numerous articles appear in the Choral Journal and other publications. Chris has served several years on ACDA and MEA boards. He has enjoyed lecturing on the topics of choir recruitment, repertoire, and establishing community and culture in the classroom. Presentations include National ACDA and many other platforms. Maunu maintains an active composing career. His compositions have received American Prize Finalist honors and he has been hired for numerous commissions. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Northern State University where he was honored as Commencement Speaker. He was also a recipient of a Commendation from the 71st House of Representatives for his work as an educator.
Chris holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern State University. Most importantly, Mr. Maunu shares his life with his beautiful wife Aleisha, and their children Bodhi and Astraea.
Amber Schroeder is a native of Gresham, Oregon and received Bachelor’s (2001) and Masters of Education (2005) degrees from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. There she participated in the award winning PSU Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. Bruce Browne. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Music, Choral Conducting degree through Simpson College in Indianola Iowa (2023). Amber has been privileged to serve school and church choirs aged Elementary through Adult and choirs, many of which have performed at events throughout the Northwest, including the Oregon Music Educators Association Conference. She recently won Pamplin Media’s “Best Teacher” award, which is voted on by members of East County where she resides with her husband Jeff and her children Andrew, Camden and Bella and conducts choirs at Sam Barlow High School.
Kendra Friar ♦ Associate Conductor -- Nova 1, and Nova 2
Kendra Kay Friar directs ensembles for PYC’s K-5 singers and coordinates PYC’s expanding neighborhood choir program. Kendra is proud to specialize in elementary-general and early childhood music education. Her 27-year career includes a range of experiences with learners of every age. She has taught undergraduate methods classes at Pacific University and the University of Texas. She has also worked for several years as an elementary music teacher and choir director at schools in McMinnville, St. Helens, and Beaverton, Oregon, and in the Austin, Texas, Metro area. In 2021, Kendra received the Excellence in Elementary Music Education Award from Oregon Music Educators Association.
Since moving to Oregon in 2000, Kendra has sung with Portland Symphonic Choir, Bach Cantata Choir, Choro in Schola, and Oregon Chorale. She has accompanied Portland Phoenix Chamber Choir, Portland Symphonic Choir, and numerous school choirs and soloists. She also has a long history of service to Oregon’s music education community, including four years as Elementary Chair for Oregon Music Educators Association (OMEA) and six years as an editor for the peer-reviewed Journal of General Music Education. In 2022, she accepted a two-year appointment to the inaugural Equity Committee of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Her published works appear in Music Educators Journal,Teaching Music, Journal of General Music, and Lorenz Publications’ Activate! Magazine.
Kendra has presented workshops at multiple state and regional events in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Illinois plus the 2022 NAfME National Conference in Washington, D.C. In 2023, she presented two webinars for the National Association for Music Education, “Scott Joplin: A Guide for K-12 Music Educators” and “Margaret Bonds 'Credo' and the Expanding Choral Canon.” In 2024, she and Nova 2 singers will present the encounter session, "Fostering a Child's Artistic Identity," at the NW ACDA Conference in Spokane, WA.
Kendra is a University of Illinois Ed. D. student majoring in Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership – Diversity and Equity Concentration. She holds music education degrees from The University of Texas (M. M.) and The University of Illinois (B. S., Elementary-General Specialization).
Mia Hall Miller ♦ Founder / Artistic Director Emeritus
With more than 30 years of choral education experience, Mia’s dedication and enthusiasm for working with young people is widely recognized. In addition to founding 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 American Choral Directors Association(ACDA) and has served as membership chair for Oregon and co-Chair of the Middle School Honor Choir. Last Spring, Mia received the Oregon Symphony's 2016 Schnitzer Wonder Award. This award honors an individual or organization that directly works to build community through the next generation of artists and/or student musicians.
In 2003 she founded Pacific Youth Choir, which has grown to include 300 singers in 12 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 has been 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 and the upcoming 2018 Northwest ACDA convention to be held in Portland.
Ruth Finn ♦ Managing Director
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.
Maria Collinsworth ♦ Program Coordinator
Soprano, Maria Collinsworth has sung for a variety of sacred and secular vocal ensembles such as Cappella Romana, the Julians, and Resonance Ensemble with whom she was the featured soprano soloist for Stravinsky's ballet, "Les Noces." Ms. Collinsworth has also performed with various local opera companies as a soloist and chorus member; Opera Theater Oregon, Divergent Opera, Eugene Opera, and Portland Opera.
Recording and singing live soundtracks for movies is a particular passion. She has been a soloist for Richard Einhorn's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" with the David York Ensemble as well as "Grand Duel" with Federale for Portland's Filmusik, and a special showing of an original Star Trek episode (Spectre of the Gun) with Atomic Arts theater troup. You can also hear her voice in an episode of the CW's Supernatural (Frontierland). Last year, Maria had the honor of recording a brand new song by David J Haskins (Bauhaus and Love and Rockets) written in tribute to his friend David Bowie, of whom she was and is an immense fan. Maria also performed for the soundtrack "Half-time in America"-- An Emmy-Nominated Chrysler commercial starring Clint Eastwood, which aired during the 2012 Superbowl.
Maria sang with Spaghetti-Western band, Federale. They have taken the stage at the Filmore in San Francisco and the Henry Fonda Theater in LA. You can hear them providing much of the soundtrack for "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," as w written/ directed by Ana Lily Amirpour; an Israeli-vampire-western and darling of the 2014 Sundance Festival. They also contribute the title song from their 4th album, All the Colours of the Dark for Ms. Amirpour's sophmore film, The Bad Batch starring Keanu Reeves, Jim Carey, and Jason Momoa. Federale's 5th album was released Nov. 2019. You can hear a composition of her own in the documentary, "Fire on the Hill" about the cowboys of Compton. Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Michael Barnes ♦ Pianist -- Chamber Choir and Pacific
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.
Barton Rippe ♦ Pianist - Outreach Choirs, Nova Choirs and Rogue
As a native Portlander, Barton has been active in the local music scene for over 25 years. He studies both piano and vocal performance at Whitman College, University of Oregon, and Portland State University. He is currently the director of music at Montavilla United Methodist Church. Mr Rippe recently retired from the operatic stage having performed with the Portland Opera for 17 seasons. Barton has performed with most of the reputable vocal ensembles in town and specializes in coaching and accompanying young musicians. Being a father of three, he has a passion for working with children, especially those coming from economically challenged and underserved ares. Mr Rippe is excited to be a part of the PYC family, and looks forward to participating in the development and growth of the outreach program.