Biographies

 

Patrick McDonough, Founding Artistic Director

Patrick McDonough, Founding Artistic Director of The Ensemble of Oregon, is a longtime presence in the Portland vocal arts community.  He has performed with all of Portland’s professional choral groups in addition to such ensembles as the Portland Baroque Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale and Minnesota Orchestra.  Patrick founded and was Artistic Director of the professional Minneapolis, MN group Ensemble of the North and performed and toured nationally and internationally with The Rose Ensemble and The Dale Warland Singers.   He is frequently in demand as a guest conductor and singer throughout the Portland metro area and beyond.  Patrick completed his undergraduate work in Music Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and subsequently undertook graduate studies in Choral Conducting at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he was Assistant Conductor of the University of Minnesota Concert Choir under the tutelage of Kathy Saltzman Romey.  His performances as a conductor and singer can be heard on some fourteen commercial recordings, including the Grammynominated Walden Pond (Dale Warland Singers, 2004).  


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Catherine van der Salm

Catherine van der Salm is a native of the Northwest. She grew up in Sandy, Oregon, and graduated with honors from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, earning two degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Economics and Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Catherine is an active performer, singing with Cappella Romana, Cantores in Ecclesia, In Mulieribus, Resonance and Oregon Catholic Press, and has appeared as a guest artist with Cascadia Academy of Music, Portland Vocal Consort, Columbia Chorale of Oregon, Bravo! Vancouver and the Vancouver Camerata. In 2002 and 2004, she was a regional finalist in the NATSAA competition, and sang for Elly Ameling at the 2005 International Congress of Voice Teachers. As a private voice teacher in Vancouver, Washington, Catherine coaches singers of all ages in art song, opera, Broadway, and popular musical styles. She is also part of the Portland Alumni Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music fraternity and service organization. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, Ruud, their daughters, Juliana and Annelies.


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Laura Thoreson

Laura Thoreson has appeared as a guest artist with such groups as Indianapolis Opera, Augusta Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Indiana University Opera Theatre, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, San Juan Symphony, the Bach Cantata Choir and Orchestra, and more, and has been a four-time guest artist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.  A great choral music enthusiast, Laura has been a member of several professional ensembles, including The Kammerbach Ensemble, Aguava New Music Studio, Apollo's Voice, Vox Reflexa, Cappella Romana, Resonance Ensemble and Trinity Chamber Singers.  Laura is a current Performer Diploma candidate at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she received her Master of Music in Voice, studying under Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Voice at Central Washington University, as a student of Diane Thueson Reich.  A native of Vancouver, Washington, Laura was recently appointed to the voice faculty at the University of Portland, and maintains a private voice studio in the area, in addition to her active performing schedule.


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Nicholas Ertsgaard

Nicholas Ertsgaard received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Millikin University and performed many leading roles there including King Oberon in The Fairy Queen (Purcell), Chevalier De La Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites (Poulenc), Oronte in Alcina (Handel) and Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte (Mozart). Nicholas is blessed to be a part of Pacific Northwest groups such as The Chamber Singers and Willamette Master Chorus, and is the Assistant Director of Music Ministries at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Salem.

 

 

 


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Tim O'Brien

Baritone Tim O'Brien has sung with Austin Opera, the Minnesota Opera, the Dale Warland Singers, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale.   Recently he has performed Le nozze di Figaro, Ariadne auf Naxos, Into the Woods, and Sweeney Todd with Austin Texas's Butler Opera Center.  Past performances include Verdi's Don Carlo with Austin Opera, Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and the Ballad of Baby Doe with Spotlight on Opera, as well as Winterreise and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs with The Ensemble.   Tim has toured nationally and internationally with the St. Paul-based Rose Ensemble, and he has performed regularly with groups such as the National Lutheran Choir, the St. Peter Choral Arts Society, and Glorious Revolution Baroque.  His "strong, yet vulnerable" portrayal of Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas was praised by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and his performances as a singer and percussionist can be heard on some eleven commercial recordings, including the Grammy-nominated Walden Pond

 


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Arwen Myers

Praised for her musical sensitivity and clarity of tone, soprano Arwen Myers is quickly gaining a reputation as one of today’s most intelligent and skilled interpreters of new and early music.  A versatile artist equally comfortable in oratorio, chamber music, and the recital stage, Ms. Myers has appeared with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Augusta Opera, the Idaho Bach Festival, and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, among many others.  In July, she placed third nationally in the prestigious 2014 NATS Artist Award competition in Boston, MA.  2015-16 season highlights include solo appearances with Musica Maestrale and The Ensemble, as well as appearances on Portland's Friends of Chamber Music's "Dinner with Friends" series and All Classical FM's "Thursdays at Three."  An avid collaborator, Ms. Myers will also appear as a choral artist with In Mulieribus, Cappella Romana, and Prometheus, among others.  Ms. Myers holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a Performer's Diploma in vocal performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Alan Bennett and Patricia Brooks Havranek.  A native of Augusta, GA, she is currently the music associate at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, OR, and she is an active freelance artist both in the Northwest and across the United States. 


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Melanie Downie Robinson

Specializing in early music, soprano Melanie Downie Robinson is active around the country as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. She recently made her solo debut with the Portland Baroque Orchestra and has appeared as a Guest Artist with many ensembles including Musica Maestrale and the Wildwood Consort. On the other end of the spectrum, Mel is well-known in the arena of new music and collaborates frequently with regional composers to present and promote their work. Also in high demand for small ensemble work, Mel has performed and recorded with Cappella Romana, Portland Vocal Consort, Resonance Ensemble, The Julians, the Sometime Quartet, Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Cantores in Ecclesia and the annual William Byrd Festival, Oregon Catholic Press and the prestigious Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati. Ms. Downie Robinson has a degree in Vocal Performance from the DePauw University School of Music in Indiana and has studied with many world-renowned coaches including Nancy Zylstra, Stephen Stubbs, Webb Wiggins, Penelope Jensen, William Sharp, Grant Herreid, Lucas Harris and Mark Bailey. She serves on the Board of Directors of Choro in Schola, an emerging nonprofit that seeks to promote choral music in the public schools.


Kerry McCarthy

Kerry McCarthy was born and raised in Portland. She was educated at Reed College and Stanford University. After eleven years teaching music history in North Carolina, she returned to Oregon to devote herself to singing and musical study. She has sung with The Ensemble since 2013. She is a proud member of the Gregorian chant schola at Holy Rosary and sings at a number of other Portland churches. She performs, tours, and records extensively with Cappella Romana, where she has been praised in reviews for her "stunning clarity" and "radiant tone." She has appeared with many other local groups in recent years, including Portland Baroque Orchestra, Resonance Ensemble, In Mulieribus, Cascadia Viols, and Third Angle. She is currently writing a book about Thomas Tallis for Oxford University Press. This will be a companion volume to her recent book about William Byrd, which was given the 2014 ASCAP Slonimsky Award for composer biography of the year.

 

 

Photo credits: Cherie Renae Studios