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, Karger 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.

Maria Belva, Director, Girls Choir of Maine

Maria Belva, Faculty - Portland Conservatory of MusicMaria Belva is a professional choral conductor and private voice teacher. She has a B.A. in Psychology & Education from the State University of New York at Potsdam and an M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Maine.

She is a Certified McClosky Voice Technician, and in her voice studio, she focuses on technique and musicianship. Maria was an active soprano soloist throughout the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire, and in this capacity, performed leading roles in operatic and music theatre
productions. She also appeared often in churches, community events, benefits, and solo recitals.

Maria is a life-long chorister and understands first-hand the impact of creating an excellent choral experience. In Peterborough, NH, she founded and for 20 years directed the Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs for singers in grades 2- 12. Maria is the driving force behind the formation of the Girl Singers of Maine at PCM.

Christian Giddings, Director, Boys Choir of Maine

Christian Giddings, Faculty - Portland Conservatory of MusicChristian is a conductor, composer, and music educator from Unity, Maine. He has directed ensembles from pre-kindergarten to college and has run music programs in North Dakota, Arizona, and Maine. Additionally, he is a frequent guest conductor, clinician, and presenter having given presentations and clinics in Indiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Maine.

Christian is also the founder of Choir Unlimited, a choral music publisher, specializing in publishing digital copies of choral music. In addition to being the conductor of the Boy Singers of Maine, he is also the Music Program Director at Kents Hill School, an independent, coeducational boarding and day school in Readfield, Maine.

He holds a B.M. and M.M. in Music Education from the University of Maine and is a doctoral candidate in choral conducting at the University of Arizona.

April Masse, Director, Early Childhood Education (First Steps in Music Program)

April Masse, Faculty - Portland Conservatory of MusicOriginally from Castine, ME, April graduated from University of Southern Maine (USM)  in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy.  She is now  completing a master’s degree in piano performance.

At USM April won the 2017 Annual Honors Recital Competition and the 2015 Chamber Music Awards Competition. She participated in the Portland Ovations/USM-sponsored master class with renowned pianist Inon Barnatan and was a featured performer in the 2018 USM Scholarship Gala.

April is strongly committed to the teaching profession.  She is a member of both MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) and MMTA (Maine Music Teachers Association) and serves on the board of MMTA.

She has also been active as an accompanist in the community, playing for the Portland Youth Ensemble and Portland Children’s Chorus, as well as other choral groups in the surrounding area.

Clare Crane, Registrar and Office Manager

Clare Crane, Registrar - Portland Conservatory of MusicClare Crane, originally from Allentown, NJ, is a graduate of Syracuse University where she received a B.S. in Drama (Theater Management) and minored in human development & family science and music performance. In addition to her work at PCM, Clare is on the summer staff of the Bowdoin International Music Festival as the Development Coordinator, and has previously served as House Manager and Special Events Coordinator with the Festival.

Clare also worked in New York, NY, as the production management intern with the Vineyard Theatre, an Off-Broadway non-profit dedicated to new work, bold programming, and the support of artists.

She is passionate about making music education and the arts more accessible to the Portland community, and is excited to be a part of the PCM team.