Chris holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Oregon. He grew up in Eugene, participating in school choirs, the Oregon Children’s Choir and the Oregon Bach Festival Youth Choral Academy. At the University of Oregon, Chris sang in the University Singers, the Chamber Choir and On the Rocks (the University of Oregon’s male a cappella group). Chris was the 2005 recipient of the Max D. Risinger Award for Excellence in Choral Music Education. As an active local musician, he conducts and sings with various choirs throughout the performance season. He has also served as clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor for various Oregon choral festivals such as the 2016 International Championship of Collegiate Acappella Northwest Semifinals and the 2013 Oregon Children's Choir Festival. Chris currently teaches choir at South Eugene High School and Spencer Butte Middle School, directs the Oregon Boychoir and Outburst Acappella, and sings with the nationally-recognized contemporary acappella group, Rezonate. He is also an active composer and arranger, having won the best original arrangement award at the Northwest Harmony Sweepstakes competition in March of 2009.
-What's your favorite pasttime?
I count myself truly fortunate that I am able to have a career centering on what is also my very favorite hobby. I play and sing music for fun constantly. I also love to travel, create things like origami and bow ties, and do things involving technology.
-What was one of your favorite songs as a teen?
My teenage playlist was all over the map. The memories that come to mind right away are listening to Dave Matthew's Band's "Under the Table and Dreaming" album almost every day one year in high school, fervently "conducting" Gabriel Fauré's "Cantique De Jean Racine" in my room and riding in the car on the way to the coast with my family listening to the Cranberries' "Linger" on repeat as quickly as I could get my walkman to rewind the tape.
I know it's not a restaurant, but my favorite place to eat out is the Searl's house. They really know how to cook! I also enjoy McMennamin's North Bank, admittedly for the view.
-Who is one of your favorite singers?
This changes constantly for me as my inspirations and experiences develop, but if I had to limit my playlist to just one singer for a week, I think I would listen to Dianne Reeves. She is able to manipulate her voice to be both powerful and nuanced in a way that is very rare for singers. She is also one of the greatest performers I have ever had the privilege of seeing live.
-How did you get interested in music and choir?
As with many things in life, it started with my parents. My dad was a trumpet player and my mom loved to sing in church choir. When they saw me singing as a toddler, they wouldn't let me stop; not that I wanted to! I remember my audition for the Oregon Children's Choir when I was in 2nd grade. I auditioned for both Randy Moore and Paul Westlund at the U of O School of Music. Since then, music has been my refuge when faced with adversity and my vehicle for expressing joy and understanding myself; it's how I have learned to express my heart with my mind. That makes the motivation very intrinsic.
-Who is your favorite composer?
This also changes constantly! Lately, I've really been exploring the works of Antonio Vivaldi. His harmonies invoke incredible amounts of tension which is then masterfully resolved in small phrases, and at the same time, over increasingly large parts of each of his compositions. I'm inspired by his versatility as well. Composing during the Baroque era, he created music that was on the edge of what was considered acceptable, while at the same time, paying homage to the great composers before him. J. S. Bach himself was very inspired by Vivaldi's work.
-What would be the greatest performance of your life?
Conducting the South Eugene Concert Choir on stage at Carnegie Hall was incredible. That being said, there have been so many great performances, it's hard to choose just one. I was awed by the feeling of performing at Lincoln Center with On the Rocks in college. I remember singing at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome with the Dorians in high school. Even with these wonderful experiences, I think the greatest performance of my life is every time in a performance when the music begins to make itself, and a connection is formed in that moment between myself and my ensemble. It doesn't happen every time; only when every member of the ensemble is completely dedicated to one another and engaged in the creative process at the same time. It's such a powerful experience... It's difficult to put into words and probably impossible to understand until you have experienced it.
- What is one of your favorite moments with OCC?
My favorite moment with OCC occurs all the time! It's the moment when someone realizes their value and starts know who they are. Sometimes, it happens when the group cheers for them after auditioning for a solo. Sometimes, it happens when someone realizes how important their part is to the sound of the whole group. Other times, I see it when someone feels truly needed as a leader of their section or the whole choir. I have even seen it happen in unstructured time, when someone is respected for being really good at a video game, really funny or really skilled in things other than music. We are a community who just so happen to sing together. That's how it should be!
- Any closing thoughts?
I am honored to continue to serve this organization. It has, in many ways, been responsible for the person I am and the things I have been able to accomplish in my life. After almost 11 years of directing the Boychoir, I can confidently say that I believe we are stronger than ever. Our high school groups sound amazing and I am so happy to work with the team we have created. This is, and will continue to be, one of the greatest organizations in Eugene for kids.