Nicholas Meyer, Artistic Co-Director
In addition to assuming the title of artistic co-director of OTO in April, 2017, baritone Nicholas Meyer will also be singing the role of John Muir in its upcoming 2017 premiere production of Two Yosemites. He also teaches private voice & piano lessons at Resound NW in Portland. Nicholas was a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music where he earned a Master of Music in Voice Performance. He currently studies with renowned voice teacher David Jones in New York City. Previous credits include Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) with Manhattan School of Music, Papageno (Die Zauberflöte) with the Astoria Music Festival and covering the principal role of Beaumarchais in Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles with Manhattan School of Music. An avid recitalist, Nicholas has performed numerous recitals and his ever-growing repertoire encompasses over 300 art songs. He has produced and performed three unique art song recitals through successful Kickstarter campaigns, often collaborating with composer Justin Ralls and pianist Robert Ainsley (formerly of Portland Opera). During the summer of 2013 Nicholas received a scholarship to participate in the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria. Nicholas has participated in nearly two dozen master classes, working with world-renowned musicians such as Elly Ameling, Dame Ann Murray, Warren Jones and Thomas Hampson. Nicholas has a great interest in contemporary music and frequently collaborates with long-time friend and colleague Justin Ralls. He also premiered a song cycle by Italian composer Paolo Marchettini for baritone, cello solo and orchestra in 2012 and again in 2016 in New York City.
Justin Ralls, Artistic Co-Director
Assuming the role of artistic co-director in April, 2017, Justin Ralls, composer, conductor, writer, and educator hails from the Pacific Northwest and is inspired by the beauty of the natural world and elemental forms of creativity. An award winning composer, Ralls has conducted his works at the Lucca International Youth Orchestra Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Britt Festival at Crater Lake National Park, the Newman Scoring Stage in Los Angeles, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, as well as other venues in Salzburg, Rome, Portland, Boston, San Francisco and beyond. His music is featured on the Sierra Club and National Parks websites and NPR. SF Examiner remarked of Ralls’ recent orchestral work, Tree Ride, as “a whirlwind of thick orchestral textures…definitely establishing his own voice…” John Adams spoke of Tree Ride as “impressive…showing a mastery of orchestral technique,” also stating “your analogy to natural forces was done very well, your thunderstorm basically better than the Pastoral.” He has been described by artslandia.com as “a gifted melodist…[his music] a beautiful blend of natural and human-made music.” Ralls’ works have been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles including Albany Symphony (NY), Third Angle Ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, Fear No Music, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Jarring Sounds, International Orange Chorale, Opera Theater Oregon, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, Esteli Gomez, Molly Barth and more. As a composer he explores an eclecticism encompassing many styles including natural soundscapes, improvisation, electronics, vocal, chamber, film, jazz, folk and orchestral forces. Ralls is an Artist-in-Residence at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, an Old Growth forest research site. His education includes The Boston and San Francisco Conservatories and is currently pursuing his Ph.D at the University of Oregon.
Lisa Lipton, Executive Director
Lisa Lipton is Principal Clarinet for the Salem Symphony, and assumed the role of Executive Director in April, 2017. As one of the founders of Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project, longtime collaborator of Filmusik, and other new music collectives in PDX, she is an avid performer and advocate of new music. She aspires to continue the dialogue of sharing new ideas and relevant art with the Portland community. She fancies herself an adventurer, performer, and someone cloaked with serendipity, her versatile skills including clarinet, voice, conducting, arts curation and administration. She strongly believes in the power of chamber music and was reviewed nationally by Sam Reising, who stated, “Lipton, one of the co-founders of CPOP, played clarinet in the piece, showcasing a wonderful sense of delicacy and awareness of the sound in time,” and her performances described by Brett Campbell in Oregon Arts Watch as “…woven through a melange of interspersed vocal phrases, whispered, shouted, wailed and sung — was probably the farthest out of the whole evening, the performers’ (vocalist Jeffrey Evans, clarinetist Lisa Lipton, cellist Julian Kosanovich) deliriously pop-artsy outfits threatened to eclipse it.“ She has received awards from New Music USA, Portland State University, and has a sustained commitment as an educator in numerous schools throughout the greater Portland area.
Anne Polyakov, Administrative Director
Assuming the role of Administrative Director in April 2017, Anne Polyakov is a pianist and composer with interests that lie in the intersection of the arts, ecology and activism. Anne graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biophysics from Harvard University, where she managed the Harvard Composers Association. She then received a Master’s Degree in Music Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. While in San Francisco, Anne worked at the Center for Biological Diversity as events coordinator, creating and participating in workshops, rallies and other events across San Francisco as well as volunteering for the environmental non-profit Restore Hetch-Hetchy. Anne has attended both the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School for piano performance and music composition, and has been composing since she was 11 years old. Her pieces have been performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Oregon Bach Festival, and in Nashville, San Francisco, New York and beyond. Her music is frequently inspired by nature and the environment. Anne worked with the NGO Pacific Environment in organizing an international environmental exchange in San Francisco and Portland, connecting Russian indigenous groups and environmental organizations with the largest environmental NGOs in the United States, such as Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Greenpeace. She was program coordinator for the cultural exchange between the Siletz Tribe of Oregon and the Itelmen Tribe from Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. For the past few years, Anne has been working for U.C. Berkeley Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management publishing manuscripts on the ecology and population dynamics, as well as co-authoring a book chapter on the natural history of the central California coast. In fall 2017, she will be pursuing her doctoral degree with the Quantitative Ecology and Research Management, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Washington.
Erica Melton, Music Director
Music Director Erica Melton has worked with Opera Theater Oregon since its founding in 2005. During her tenure with the organization, Opera Theater Oregon has earned a reputation for high musical standards and original programming. As Artistic Director from 2011 to 2014, Melton created genre-bending productions that interwove opera with film, dance, cuisine and fashion, including the company’s first outdoor production, The Cunning Little Vixen, performed at Wild Goose Farm on Sauvie Island. As Music Director, a role she also held from 2008-2011, Melton transformed the musical element of the company from cabaret-style performances with piano accompaniment to professional productions with 20-25 piece orchestra, including an original opera commissioned for the company in 2010. Her original arrangements of traditional operas have incorporated electric and popular instruments along with conventional symphonic elements. Melton is particularly interested in novel combinations of instruments that can serve the needs of small opera companies with varied missions and resources. Melton holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Music from UC Berkeley. She has worked as a coach accompanist with Seattle Opera, Portland State University, the University of Portland and Northwest Children’s Theater. Performance credits include Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Mark Morris Dance Group, Berkeley Lyric Opera, and Portland Symphonic Choir. An active piano teacher and vocal coach, Melton also maintains a private studio in Northeast Portland’s Alberta Arts district.
Jen Wechsler, Film Director
Jen Wechsler is a Canadian born filmmaker who grew up in the LA area. She graduated with a Bachelor in Media Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2004 where she produced and directed several experimental and narrative short films as well as co-produced a student film showcase, The Vanguard Film Festival. After moving to San Francisco and Philadelphia she found herself in Portland, OR in 2007 where she produced festival events for Living Room Theaters and later shifted her focus from programming to working in the local production industry. While freelancing in the industry and working as the Membership Assistant at Oregon Media Production Association she began to further immerse herself in Portland’s film community by volunteering for the Portland Oregon Woman’s Film Festival, becoming the Film Director at Opera Theater Oregon, as well as becoming a active member of WIF-PDX. After 3 years working at OMPA she accepted a position at Deep Green Films and in 2012 became the Managing Director of the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival as well as producing her first 2 commercial projects. After working at Rex, freelancing for ADi, and producing several more commercial productions she recently accepted the position of Office Manager at Limbo Films and continues to volunteer for the non-profits Opera Theater Oregon, OMPA, and POWFest while developing a new business with partner Ian Probasco.
Board of Directors
Scott Meyer – Board President