Jean Murachanian, Executive Director

Jean Murachanian, Executive Directory - Portland Conservatory of MusicJean holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration/Finance from California State University, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She is a business leader and university educator who is passionate about the arts, particularly enhancing community life through equal access to education and artistic expression.  She has a proven track record helping organizations promote positive change and build community.

As a business professional she was an underwriter for a commercial finance company, analyzing the financial performance, projections, and asset value of companies under consideration for business loans ranging from $7 to $120 million.  She also worked in the entertainment industry monitoring up to 65 budgets simultaneously for TV animation.

As an active board member of an ethnic museum in Los Angeles, she designed a range of activities to increase the visibility and effectiveness of the organization, which included redefining the museum’s mission statement, implementing a membership drive, initiating a lecture series, and mounting an exhibition with extensive related programming.  Her efforts set the museum on a sound course and it is now thriving and playing a critical role in the community through its varied programming.

Titus Abbott, Jazz Studies Program Director

Titus Abbott, Jazz Studies Program Director - Portland Conservatory of MusicTitus Abbott holds a B.Mus. in classical composition techniques from the University of Montreal.  He studied clarinet at the University of Ottawa followed by jazz studies on saxophone at Humber College, Toronto under the tutelage of saxophonist Pat Labarbera. He has also studied with jazz greats Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland, Steve Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell.Titus has performed as leader and sideman in various ensembles in Canada, Europe and the US.

Since arriving in Maine in 2002 Titus has lead his own groups and collaborations include performances with the outstanding pianists Curtis Clark and Frank Carlberg and the late Oud Master Al Gardner.Titus has been teaching saxophone and clarinet for over 25 years where he specializes in tone development and articulation as well as jazz improvisation and phrasing.

Laura del sol Jiménez, Director, College Prep Program

Laura del sol Jimenez, Faculty - Portland Conservatory of MusicFlutist Laura del Sol Jiménez has won numerous awards throughout her career, highlighted by the expressiveness and poised technical accuracy of her performances. Currently based in New York City and Portland, Maine, Laura has performed in Argentina, Chile, Israel, Italy, Japan, the United States, and her native Colombia.

Laura was a prizewinner in the Gran Premio de Santiago Flute competition in Chile, Colombia’s Concurso Universitario de Flauta de Bogotá, Ciudad de Bogotá Woodwind Competition, and selected five times for the roster of the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango Concert Series.

Laura has appeared as a soloist with the Cali Philharmonic Orchestra, Marga-Marga Symphony, Caldas Symphonic Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia Orchestra, and Universidad Javeriana Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Colombia National Symphony Orchestra, Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, and the CUNY Dominican Studies Symphony Orchestra.

Equally at home as a chamber musician, Laura has performed at international music festivals such as the Bowdoin Music Festival and the Portland Bach Festival, and collaborated with groups such as Windscape and the Jupiter String Quartet. In 2015, Laura founded the Linos trio, which toured Colombia and produced a much-acclaimed album premiering music of contemporary Latin American composers.

Laura has dedicated much of her career to commissioning and performing works of Latin American composers. Originally from the coffee-belt Colombian town of Calarcá, she has uniquely experienced the power of music to heal communities in war-torn countries. To help provide musical resources to under-served Colombian communities, Laura founded the Orpheus Cultural Foundation in 2013, dedicated to achieving social inclusion and encouraging the development of arts in communities devastated by Colombia’s 50-year war.

Laura holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. She performs on a Sankyo silver flute and Emmanuel gold head joint.

Shelley Willcox, Youth Choral Director, Boys Singers of Maine & Girls Singers of Maine

Shelley Willcox, Faculty - Portland Conservatory of MusicShelley Willcox, Director of the Boy Singers of Maine and Girl Singers of Maine, recently moved to Portland from Great Neck, New York, where she taught vocal music in the Great Neck Public Schools.

Her choirs have performed in schools, community events, and benefit concerts. In addition, she prepared her vocal students for their solo New York State School Music Association Festival adjudications and All-County choral performances.

Shelley spent summers directing and accompanying children’s musical theater productions and performing in regional choirs. She holds a B.S. in Music Education from New York University and a M.M.E. from the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, City University of New York.

Elizabeth Rollins, Adult Choral Director

Elizabeth RollinsElizabeth (Liz) Rollins pursued singing, education and theater at McGill University School of Music, Montréal and a Master’s in Conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

As the Assistant Director of the Portland Community Chorus for the last 10 years, she has worked with large ensembles and directed the Outreach Singers in their many varied engagements.

She conducted and toured with the Windham Chamber Singers for two years, taught choral music and theater in Auburn schools for 11 years, and has directed and designed over 60 high school, middle school and community theater performances.

She is also a devoted member of the New Brackett Church choir on Peaks Island. Her passions extend beyond performance to include competitive snowboarding, sailing, writing & sewing.

Miriam Schwanauer, Director, Early Childhood Music

Miriam SchwanauerBorn and raised in Maine, Miriam Schwanauer was a pupil of Ocy L. Downs and, at age 19, was honored to be selected to play for a master class given by Garrick Ohlsson. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music (B.M. in Applied Piano, and M.M. in Piano Performance and Literature), her teachers include Frank Glazer and Rebecca Penneys.

Miriam served on the piano faculty of PCM from 1996 to 2001, taught at the Hill School and at the Waynflete School, and performed as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and choir director. She served on the faculty of Saint Joseph’s College, teaching courses in Music History and Appreciation. In 2002, after relocating to Illinois, Miriam joined the piano faculty of the Conservatory of Central Illinois, where she taught until 2020.

Miriam has held the positions of liturgical pianist/organist and director of music at St. Raphael Church (Kittery, Maine), Brackett Memorial United Methodist Church, and St. Christopher Parish (Peaks Island, Maine), and St. Thomas Church (Philo, Illinois.) She continues to perform as a soloist, a chamber musician, and a collaborative pianist.

Dedicated to teaching students of any age, beginning through advanced levels, Miriam counts among her students many who have won awards and chosen to pursue music professionally. Devoted to teaching for over 30 years, her broad background in piano pedagogy and literature allows her to tailor her teaching approach to the needs of her individual students.

Caitlin Puchalski, Registrar and Office Manager

Caitlin PuchalskiCaitlin is a Portland, Maine, native who attended Portland High school and graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2016 with her BFA in Studio Art and Digital Arts Minor.

She was the Office and Marketing Manager for a Fine Art Auction House, Print Manager for Abacus Gallery and Box Office Manager for Port City Music Hall.

Caitlin also began teaching community Plein-air watercolor classes in 2019 and fell in love with sharing her knowledge and spending time while painting outdoors. Her work can be found at studiocait.com.

Having been fostered in Portland’s artistic community herself, Caitlin is passionate about giving back to the arts and ensuring that Portland’s artistic community continues to thrive.