Meet the musicians


Sophie Lippert:
Piano and Cello

Sophie Lippert is a classical pianist, piano teacher, and CEO of Connections Concert Series, praised for her sensitivity, dynamism, warmth, expressiveness, and evocative musical maturity. Notable 2019-2020 appearances include featured soloist roles with the Seattle Philharmonic and the Olympia Symphony, solo recitals across the Northwest and Southwest US, and a wildly popular performance at TEDxPortland.

Sophie has played as featured soloist with many orchestras, including performances of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Seattle Philharmonic and the Seattle Symphony. Also an accomplished cellist, she was principal cellist in the Cascade Youth Symphony for three years. Sophie received her degree in Classical Piano Performance with Jon Kimura Parker at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She was sole proprietor of Vibrant Studios, an art, yoga, and wellness collective, from 2012-2018. Sophie currently divides her time between teaching piano lessons, performing shows, working as a copywriter and strategist, and facilitating community experiences. She founded Connections Concerts in 2019.


Miguel Medina:
indigenous inspired music

Miguel Medina has been an artist, craftsman and musician since childhood. Miguel's life is strongly guided by his Universal spiritual beliefs. His path has lead him to become highly involved in Native American ceremonies. Miguel is on the elders council for the Turtle Mountain Thunder Bird Lodge community. He carries, leads and sings on the “big drum” as well as helps to lead and facilitate events and ceremonies within that community. Many of these ceremonies have been passed down to Miguel to help carry forward.

Miguel's passion for art, music and spirituality intersect in his business, Singingtree Flutes. For 20 + years Miguel has been crafting Native American style flutes. Miguel's flutes have earned him international recognition and acclaim. Miguel also currently plays and performs "Indigenous Inspired Music,” using vocals, and a variety of world music instruments including Native American flute, Hand pan, digeridoo, and hand drums.

Miguel maintains an active presence on his YouTube page. Check it out here.

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Max Ribner Trio:
Jazz Meets R&B

From touring extensively with Nahko & Medicine for the People to lending his skillful sound to the likes of Esperanza and members of Prince, Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power, as well as touring internationally on his own, Max’s solid musicianship has afforded him plenty of opportunities to play on stages the world over from Red Rocks to the Byron Bay Blues Festival.

Max's music is like a study in cultural anthropology...a drawing together of world influences made stronger for its variety of voices. He's compelled by the idea that each song tells its own story, one that isn't about him, but rather a collective of artists. He aims to use the stage as a platform from which to reach across cultural divides to connect seemingly disparate communities and encourage a deeper listening.

The music will also be supported by Saeeda Wright...When she takes the stage, you will feel loved, inspired, and encouraged all at the same time. These are the gifts Saeeda has been cultivating since she was a child. Surrounded by praise and worship ministers, it was in her blood to find her voice and tend to its blossom throughout her life, including furthering her education as a Voice Major at Clark Atlanta University. Saeeda has been seen on stages backing Prince, is a member of his New Power Generation.


Saffire Bouchelion:
Cosmic World Jazz

Saffire Bouchelion is a professional performer and musician who has been featured on over 46 CD's, and has opened for several international acts, including Sheryl Crow, Crash Test Dummies, Barenaked Ladies, The Paul Winter Consort, John Denver and Whoopee Goldberg. His Latest HandPan CD, HANDSIGHT, was released in May of 2017.

Saffire is a 1st Degree Black Belt Nia instructor who has been passionately practicing Nia for over 20 years. His embodiment and transmission of music and rhythm stirs profound transformation in his students and his audience.

For seven years Saffire was co-director of the Ecstatic Choir. Five of those years were at Naropa University where he was a musical accompanist for dance and movement classes, and also taught drumming for the continuing education program. He has also taught Nia, Drumming and Dance into Being workshops throughout the US, Europe, Mexico and Bali for the past 16 years. His greatest joy is helping to Embody the world, one Community at a time!

His wonderful Children's Book, The Groove Goblin, can be seen and purchased on Amazon and his CD, HandSight, can be purchased on iTunes and CD Baby.


Courtney Freed:
Dramatic vocal jazz

Strong, passionate, vivacious and daring, Courtney Freed is a dynamic vocalist in a class all her own.

Her first album, "Happy Little Bluebird: The Music of Harold Arlen" is a tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Her delightful rendition of "If I Only Had A Brain" has captivated many a nostalgic heart and her soulful handling of timeless classics such as "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Anyplace I Hang My Hat is Home" are a delectable feast for the ears.

Courtney has performed in many prestigious venues in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles Portland, where she resides. Her sparkling and smooth tribute through the Great American Songbook is not to be missed live. She also sings lead with local swing band, The Courtney Freed Five.

No stranger to the local musical theatre scene, Courtney’s most favorite recent roles were Florence in Chess at Lakewood Theater Company and Trina (Drammy nom!) in Live on Stage's Falsettos. She has also tread the boards of Portland Center Stage, Pixiedust Productions, Broadway Rose, Lakewood, Profile, Triangle Productions and many more!

Courtney is the creator of the wildly popular local concert series, Portland Sings!, bringing together some of the city's finest vocalists for a magical evening in a variety of musical themes. As a producer and creator, she has helmed countless themed concerts, including "I’ll Stop the World and Belt with you," a John Hughesical, “The Coco & Ruby Variety Hour" and most recently, a Freddie Mercury tribute show called "Mercury Rising," which premiered in Portland with Live on Stage in April 2018.


LIZ KOHL: Classical & Collaborative Piano

Liz Kohl is a pianist, professor, collaborative musician, and yoga instructor.  She has a Master's degree in piano performance and pedagogy, is a member of OMTA, and has been teaching piano since 2003.  She is passionate about connecting with others and seeks to do this through teaching students of all ages in her private piano studio in SE and in her full, performing schedule.   This past year, she has begun an intimate concert series in her home studio which showcases local musicians.  At these Chamber Music House Shows, musicians sharing chamber music from the classical repertoire, as well as some arrangements of popular music.

Liz is a member of the adjunct faculty at Portland State University where she teaches "Yoga for Musicians."  Liz is currently working on expanding her Master's Thesis into a book about integrating yogic practices into a musician's life. If you'd like to keep up with Liz's performing schedule, Chamber Music House Show Series, information about Yoga for Musicians, or inquiries about private piano lessons, check out her website:


Paula Byrne:
jazz vocals

Paula Byrne's voice is like chilled champagne on a hot summer day. She moves easily between songs that are lush and beautiful to highly rhythmic, wild rides. Her sense of humor, revival of obscure songs and new twists on old standards keeps the audience engaged and enraptured.

Paula is eclectic in her choice of musicians with whom to perform, including many of Portland's best: Randy Porter, Gordon Lee, George Mitchell, Craig Bidondo, Joe Millward, Ron Steen, Dennis Caiazza, Rich Turnoy, Glenn Holstrom, Andrea Niemiec, Kevin Dietz, Christopher Woitach and Darin Clendenin, Matt Tabor, Craig Snazelle, Dave Captein, Vince Frates, Dan Gaynor, John Gilmore, Mike Horsfall, Greg Goebel, Dan Presley, Carlton Jackson, Gordon Lee, Todd Marston.

Born to a jazz drummer (father) and figure skater (mother), she has been a lover of music and movement since birth. Paula teaches dance locally and internationally, and has been a moving force in the dance scene in Portland since 1996. She is the creator of the Wild Grace™ and DanceQuest™ movement meditations, and is Founder of SomaSpace ~ Studio of Movement Arts in NE PDX.

Paula was an Oracle software developer in the corporate high-tech field for 20 years. She left that career in 2005 to devote herself full-time to her soul-work in assisting people to remember and reconnect to the body as a source of wisdom, pleasure and joy in the present moment.

Find Paula on YouTube, or at her website at


Medicinal poetry

Niema Lightseed is a priestess of the new paradigm dedicated to transforming oppression through art, ritual, embodiment education, and linguistic analysis.

A healing artist since 2004, she writes, performs, and teaches others how to write medicinal poetry; offers therapeutic bodywork and creativity coaching; teaches about the convergence of liberation politics and somatic awareness; creates community ceremonies; and seeks the marrow of life through a variety of meditative and creative disciplines.

As a full-figured woman of color navigating the intersection of multiple forms of oppression while determinedly seeking the joy that is our true nature, she strives to create safer and magical spaces where the structures we have inherited can be transmuted and the work of seeing, accepting, and celebrating the fullness of the human experience is possible.

“Medicinal Poetry is an offering to the hearts of seekers, to poets and dreamers, to those who not only believe another way is possible, but who are transforming your lives into the medicine that will heal us all.” More at

StephANIE Schneiderman: Indie-Folk & POP

Trying to pin down Stephanie Schneiderman to any one genre, talent or discipline is next to impossible. One thing is clear, however- whether pursuing her prolific work as a solo artist, playing drums for all star roots pop act Swan Sovereign (formerly Dirty Martini), stepping on the stage in the musical The Full Monty, producing a wildly successful humanitarian concert series for refugees in Uganda (raising over $65k) as well as producing the soundtrack for 3 popular children's DVD's -selling more than 75,000 combined units, Schneiderman is hands down one of the most diversely talented artists the Northwest has to offer.

Since her solo career began with a coveted spot in the Lilith Fair, Stephanie has earned extensive NW radio play, seen her music placed in numerous films and Primetime TV shows, earned a devout following and has toured around the world. She’s had multiple appearances with some of the nations top touring acts - including Aimee Mann, Hall & Oates, Heart, Train, Pat Benatar, Five for Fighting, Mandolin Orange, Chicago, Madeleine Peyroux, Andy Summers, Marc Cohn and many more.

With eight solo recordings under her belt, plus four releases with her collaborative bands Dirty Martini and Swan Sovereign, Schneiderman is a prolific recording artist who explores the threads that connect Americana folk, pop, soul and trip-hop.

Her most recent album, Live at the Old Church (a departure from her ambient/trip-hop release Rubber Teardrop, on Dan Reed's London-based label) strips away the layers and features Stephanie on piano and guitar with a string section and choir backing her, and gives fans the core essence of her songwriting, delivering a spellbinding live performance that old and new fans will revere.


Marina Albero:
Mediterranean jazz

A master of the piano, psalterium (a mediterranean Hammered Dulcimer), vibraphone and composition, Marina Albero is a working musician based in Seattle, leading the Marina Albero Project.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Marina Albero started playing music on stages as a child with her family while they toured all around the world playing traditional music and creating new shows. In her early years she studied in Barcelona's Conservatory (El Bruc) and later in La Havana (ISA), where she finished her classical piano degree with the great professor and pianist Mrs. Teresa Junco.

Marina loves composing and improvising with a wide personal language carved by her colorful background. She has played and recorded with several well known musicians and bands including L'Arpeggiata, Chano Dominguez, Pepe Habichuela, La Folata, Mariona Sagarra, Barbarito Torres, Llibert Fortuny, Glen Velez, Lori Cotler, Carlos Saura and Ars Longa.

As a hammered dulcimer player she created a language using flamenco rhythms, improvisation and modal music connecting the instrument from their origins in Persia to the nowadays sounds and textures.

Marina teaches at Cornish a College of the arts, is piano chair at Teatro Zinzanni, and has been invited to present her music at the Ballard Jazz Festival, Earshot Jazz Festival and KNKX. The Marina Albero Project features some of the finest musicians like Hans Teuber, Evan Flory-Barnes, D'Vonne Lewis, Jeff Busch, Jeff Johnson, Ben Thomas, Chuck Deardorf and Jose Martinez. She has recently been awarded by Earshot Jazz as Emerging Artist of the year. You can support her work at


Amenta Abioto:
Psychedelic soul

Amenta Abioto is a singer, songwriter, producer from Memphis, TN. In her one-woman performance, she builds vocal and instrumental loops from kalimba, synthesizer, drum machine, and guitar creating atmospheric textures.

Woven into syncopated rhythms and dichotomies of comedic proportions, Amenta surprises and tantalizes audiences with mind bending ideas while skipping vocally from soul-shaking gospel to smooth jazz.

Amenta studied drama and was familiarized with the stage through theater. With an instilled drama mind, Amenta moved to Portland, OR in 2010 with her family (mother & 4 sisters). There she began her musical chapter and merged drama with her music.  

Her music is boldly mystical and soul-fired, and her raw live performances invoke elements of both theatrical surprise and magic through ancient African diasporic sounds and stories. Visit her at


Joe Kye:

Born in Korea and raised in Seattle, violinist-looper and vocalist Joe Kye draws upon his migrant upbringing and blends indie-rock, jazz, classical, and pop to create a unique sound that “leaves everyone in awe” (Sac News and Review). With his innovative use of digital effects and looping, Kye weaves together diverse textures, catchy melodies, and rich, sweet vocals to create songs that groove, uplift, and empower listeners. A powerful storyteller with an inclusive sense of humor, Joe’s performances inspire audiences to compassion and empathy in these divisive times.

After studying music and culture at Yale University, Kye left a career as a high school educator to pursue music full-time.  Kye has toured the United States with performances opening for world-renown cellist Yo-Yo Ma, comedian Hari Kondabalu, rapper Warren G, and Senator Bernie Sanders, along with nationally broadcast performances on NPR and BBC. His music has also been featured on the NPR Politics Podcast. Kye recorded his first TedX talk in November of 2018, and speaks on immigration, creativity, and activism at schools, community organizations, and spiritual centers.

Previous collaborations include the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Sacramento Ballet, Seattle Artivist Sharon Nyree Williams, Alvin Ailey Composer/Percussionist William Catanzaro, and LA hip-hop artist Jason Chu. Kye has performed in venues like Benaroya Hall (Seattle), the Alberta Rose Theater (PDX), the Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC), the White House, and the National Portrait Gallery (DC). Kye is a Fishman and Neunaber Audio Effects sponsored artist, and has studied violin with Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi, John Kim, and Jim Mihara.


Tim Gilson:
BASS and Cello

Tim Gilson has been a mainstay in the Northwest for many years. In 1985 he joined the Mel Brown Quintet with which he recorded the award winning 'Gordon Bleu' CD. During this time Tim had the opportunity to play with many nationally acclaimed artists including Mose Allison, Ritchie Cole, Bud Shank, Herb Ellis, Julian Priester, John Handy, Ernestine Anderson and many others.

In 1988 Tim won 2nd place in an international bass competition in Los Angeles and shortly thereafter substituted for John Clayton with 'Slide Hampton and the New Jazz Masters' in a concert in Sacramento. He toured Japan in 1993 with the Mel Brown Quintet with special guest artist Chuck Findley on trumpet; then in 1994 he moved to Madison Wisconsin where he served as Principal Bassist with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and substituted on a regular basis with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Since returning to Portland in 2002 Tim plays regularly with the Oregon Symphony backing guest artist such as Dee Daniels, Byron Stripling and Herbie Hancock. Tim has also accompanied several guest artists including Wycliff Gordon, Antonio Hart, Matt Wilson, Ingrid Jensen and Wynton Marsalis during their tours of the Pacific Northwest.