Our volunteer Board of Directors works hard to provide classical music to the public. Any of the Directors can be contacted by emailing
Al Niknabard, President
Al Niknabard immigrated to United State in 1984 from Iran. He lived in Eugene, Oregon for 5 years and has been in Portland since 1990. He has been involved with parking, transportation and real estate asset management since his arrival in Portland. Al enjoys several different hobbies including playing music, sculpting, biking, motorcycles and occasional one-off artistic endeavors. Al works closely with clients from a variety of industries to achieve objectives outlined for each project. Having been involved in the business community through his work, Al has established many strong relationships in the community and is very familiar with Portland’s business and community objectives.
Gregory Vajda, Music Director
Portland Festival Symphony
Hailed as a “young titan” by the Montreal Gazette after conducting the Montreal Symphony in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartun, Gregory Vajda has fast become one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene. In 2011, he was appointed the sixth music director of the Huntsville Symphony.After a three-year tenure as Principal Conductor, he was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Radio symphony in 2014. Mr. Vajda is also the Artistic Director of the International Armel Opera Festival. Former Resident Conductor with the Oregon Symphony, Vajda maintains a busy schedule of guest conducting engagements around the world. Mr. Vajda is also a gifted clarinetist and composer and was honored with the Zoltán Kodály State Scholarship for composers (2000). Born in Budapest, Mr. Vajda studied conducting at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music.
Lajos Balogh, Founder & Music Director Emeritus
Portland Festival Symphony
Lajos is the Founder and past Music Director of Portland Festival Symphony. He was born in Hungary and studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, as well as in Munich and Hamburg. Maestro Balogh has been an active member in Oregon’s classical orchestra community. He spent many years as Principal Second Violin with the Oregon Symphony and is a former member of both the Portland Opera Orchestra and the North Coast Chamber Orchestra. He was the founding Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and is a past faculty member at Marylhurst University.
Shaun N. Christiansen, MPA
Shaun N. Christiansen, MPA is a Financial Planner and owner of the Christiansen Financial Network. Christiansen Financial is a network of the nation’s top insurance and financial institutions organized through the financial planning process. Prior to founding the CFN in 2016, Shaun spent three years as a representative of Northwestern Mutual and two years as a Managing Associate with MassMutual of Oregon. Shaun earned a B.S. in Sociology with minor in Legal History from Western Oregon University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oregon. During graduate school Shaun interned in the Capitol Hill Office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer, serving in the John C. Stennis Congressional Intern Program. A life-long Oregonian, Shaun is passionate about all styles of music and fascinated by the positive impact that rhythm and resonance can have on the human brain and psyche which brings about his enthusiasm to help expose classical music to all.
Composer and choreographer
Amber began her artistic training in violin and Classical ballet and later shifted her focus to music composition and contemporary dance. As a composer, Gudaitis works in contemporary classical music, writing for live performers. Gudaitis’ musical compositions have been premiered by the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the Olympia Symphony Orchestra and by professional chamber ensembles and soloists. As a dance professional, Gudaitis is known for customizing performances to the unique stage designs of music venues. She has performed with many professional musicians, including trumpeter Fred Sautter, clarinetist Dr. Robert Spring, and tubist Dr. Deanna Svoboda. Gudaitis studied at the University of North Texas, Arizona State University, and the University of Leeds in England. Her works have been performed in Massachusetts, California, Arizona, Nebraska, Texas, the Pacific Northwest, England, Costa Rica, and Portugal.
CIO, Harsch Investment Properties
Kyriacos Kitsis is the Chief Information Officer at Harsch Investment Properties. In this role, he oversees all aspects of information technology and information security for a leading real estate investment firm based in Portland, Oregon and with 39 offices in the western United States. Kyriacos is known and recognized for his expertise in building high performance IT organizations that help businesses attain their strategic goals. Prior to joining Harsch Investment Properties in 2015, Kyriacos held senior technology leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. He served as the CIO for the Oregon Youth Authority where he led the Agency’s technology transformation program with focus on research and analytics. Kyriacos worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment as the Director of Global Applications supporting Sony’s domestic and international marketing. Kyriacos received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Central Oklahoma, a Master in business administration from Pepperdine University, and completed the Executive Program in Management at the Anderson school of business at UCLA.
Attorney at Law
John Koch is an attorney based in Lake Oswego and the founder of Koch Law, LLC. His practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, and business transactions. He regularly advises clients on charitable giving, whether during their lifetime or through their estates. He also advises non-profit and tax-exempt organizations, and has prior experience serving on non-profit boards. John has never learned to play an instrument, but he has been fond of music since the sixth grade (starting with his first purchase, a Best of the Guess Who cassette tape). His favorite classical works are Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Vivldi’s Four Seasons, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. John is an amateur in other arts, namely creative writing and photography and he supports efforts to make artistic experiences available to larger populations. This is one of the main reasons why he is excited to join the board of the Portland Festival Symphony.
David Wimett is a choral director and a woodworker in the Portland area. Mr. Wimett recently relocated to Oregon with his wife and son after finishing a Masters in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington. Mr. Wimett has spent much of his professional career focusing on music education and music technology. Prior to finishing his degree at the University of Washington, he spent time working with Apple as a technician and guest trainer for internal employees. In addition to his experience at Apple, Mr. Wimett taught choir in Washington and Arizona. It was in Arizona that he received his undergraduate degree in Choral Music Education at Northern Arizona University. In addition to his time teaching he performed professionally with the Grammy award winning Phoenix Chorale until his move to the Pacific Northwest, where he began performing with Symphony Tacoma. Mr. Wimett has an association with the fraternity of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, where he served as a chapter president and collegiate province representative. In addition, Mr. Wimett has worked with nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps, and has begun working with music organizations in the Pacific Northwest that serve underprivileged students.