Artistic Staff

Dr. David Thomas

Artistic Director

David M. Thomas enjoys a strong reputation throughout the Pacific Northwest as a conductor who fuses technique and artistry to provide a compelling and transformative musical experience.

Dr. Thomas excels as a choral musician through his unwavering commitment to healthy vocal production in the choir. Influenced early on by the beautiful soprano voice of his mother, Beverly Thomas, and her work building a thriving children’s and youth choral academy, Dr. Thomas spent much of his childhood years engrossed in the art of singing. As a teen, he took quickly to conducting, found early success leading his peers in rehearsal and, soon thereafter, conducting in performance, laying a strong foundation for his future education and career path. Earning an undergraduate degree in vocal performance (Brigham Young University) provided the confidence and skill necessary to elicit healthy, energetic singing from choristers.

Dr. Thomas attributes much of his success as a conductor and pedagogue to his years of study and performance with Dr. Ronald Staheli. Valery Uspensky, Stanislav Legkov and Mack Wilberg also played key roles in his development as a musician. Dr. Thomas (baritone) has performed as a soloist in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s well-known weekly television broadcast, and on the Mariinsky Theatre stage, and has prepared choirs or collaborated as a guest conductor with many prestigious ensembles including the Oregon Repertory Singers and the Newport Symphony Orchestra.

After earning additional degrees in Russian language (BA) and choral conducting (MM) at Brigham Young University, Dr. Thomas received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire in St. Petersburg Russia. He has continually integrated Russian music in his performance and research, providing performance coaching for ensembles and soloists, and presenting scholarly work at national and regional level professional conferences. Artistic Director of the Portland Choir & Orchestra since 2007, Dr. Thomas pursues his greatest passion (teaching) via a robust private studio and is highly sought after as a clinician and adjudicator.

Dr. Edward Higgins

Orchestra Director

One of the most highly sought conductors of the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Higgins has spent his musical career imparting the joys of music as a performer, educator, and conductor.

Dr. Higgins began his versatile performance career with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Spoleto, Italy, where he served as Principal Trumpet on such works as the Grammy-winning recording of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. After two seasons Dr. Higgins went on to hold the Principal Trumpet position of the Sacramento Symphony. He achieved comparable accolades in the Midwest as a professional tubist, holding principal positions in the La Crosse Symphony and St. Joseph Symphony Orchestras.

His educational career has seen similar successes with brass pedagogy and conducting positions at: University of California Davis, California State University Sacramento, Winona State University in Minnesota, and Washburn University in Kansas. Dr. Higgins also spent time teaching younger students in the public schools of Sacramento and Stockton, California.

As an active conductor, he founded the Oregon Conductor’s Symposium and was a featured guest with the Portland Festival Orchestra. Most recently, Dr. Higgins has taken his baton worldwide — appearing in such diverse locales as New York’s La Guardia School of the Performing Arts (featured in “Fame”) and the Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, China.

On the concert stage, Higgins has collaborated with notable artists such as, Glenn Dicterow (Concertmaster, New York Philharmonic), Charles Schlueter (Principal Trumpet Emeritus, Boston Symphony), Ronald Baron (Principal Trombone Emeritus, Boston Symphony), Fred Korman (Principal Oboe, Emeritus, Oregon Symphony) and world-renowned trumpet soloist Carl “Doc” Severinsen.

Dr. Higgins holds a Doctorate in Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in trumpet performance from the Juilliard School. He is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Portland Wind Symphony, Associate Professor of Conducting and Director of Wind Ensembles at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, and most recently, the Conductor of the Portland Orchestra.

Jennie Peterson

Assistant Choir Director

Jennie Peterson received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a secondary education choral emphasis from Brigham Young University in 2007. She has had a passion for choral music from a very young age and has enjoyed participating in and directing various choirs throughout her life. Jennie is currently a stay-at-home mother of three—soon to be four!—children: James (age 5), Sarah (age 3), and Samuel (age 1). In her spare time, she loves to bake and read. Jennie has been part of the Portland Choir and Orchestra since 2010. She enjoyed acting as the soprano Section Leader at that time, and she is currently thrilled to be the Assistant Choir Director.

Chris Fotinakis

Concert Master

Chris Fotinakis began his musical career at age nine when a competitive streak arose within him after seeing his older sister playing the violin. He continued on to study violin and voice at university and settled down in Portland as a freelance musician. He has performed around the Northwest in the Vancouver, Newport, and Oregon East Symphonies, and as a singer has appeared with the Portland Vocal Consort, Portland Symphonic Choir, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. He has served as concertmaster of the Starlight Symphony and as tenor section leader at First Presbyterian Church of Portland and St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Chris also enjoys jumping on stage to fiddle, and has appeared with Americana band The Beautiful Trainwrecks. Chris currently serves as a violin instructor at Valley Catholic Schools and the Community Music Center and also teaches music theory and choir at Trinity Academy in North Portland. In his spare time he plays copious amounts of soccer, writes music, and spends time with his amazing 3-year-old daughter, Sabrina.