Welcome to Sing Portland! I’m Marion Van Namen, the Artistic Director of SP!.
Sing Portland! is my deepest work in the world. Being able to spend my life facilitating joy in the hearts of others is the greatest gift I can imagine.
When singers come to Sing Portland! for the first time, they experience a choir unlike any other. Our singers care so much for each other, and they treat every single newcomer like one of the family.
We come together week after week to sing, heal, connect, lift up, and bring some true happiness to each other.
A bit more about me…
Music was my first love; when I was just four years old, my grandmother sat me down at a piano. The youngest of seventeen children, she played cello and piano and taught music to all ages for more than sixty years.
My favorite moments as a child were spent sitting at her side, looking up at her big blue eyes, my feet swinging beneath the piano bench, struggling through simple melodies while she made my awkward notes part of a full orchestral sound with her accompaniment. It was my happiest place in the world.
But as I grew up, pragmatism eclipsed my love of music. At fourteen, when I told my father I wanted to pursue music, he told me what so many parents tell their musical children. That I would never be good enough. That I would never make a decent living with music. That I would never have any security. And I listened. I let music go. I pursued my business degree instead – all the way to an MBA from Carnegie Mellon. All the way to a corporate job at Microsoft. All the way to dissatisfaction and discontentment.
In my late twenties, I began volunteering at Waldorf schools. Watching the children sing in choirs and play in orchestras reminded me of those days with my grandmother. I knew it was time to rediscover my own music, and the universe agreed. An unexpected inheritance brought just enough to buy a cello. I had never played before. I began lessons at 31 and fell in true love with music all over again. A year later, I began teaching and never looked back. But I knew that music for me was about more than making a living. I wanted to help others heal the wounds of being told they weren’t good enough. I wanted to show the whole wide world that music is for everyone. So I ditched my corporate job in favor of becoming a music therapist and teacher.
My passions for community-building and the empowering spirit of music brought me to conducting community choirs.
My philosophy is that no one should EVER be told they can’t sing.
Music is all around us. I believe that we are on this earth to let music flow through us.
As we begin choir rehearsals with stretches, I love giving my singers the image of us reaching out to the harmony of the spheres, pealing the music off the sky, inviting the cosmic music to sound through us. Our physical bodies allow that cosmic music to become an earthly manifestation, for our earthly ears to enjoy.
My teaching style is highly improvisational – always responding to what’s needed in the moment. The songs are joyful expressions from all over the world. Almost all music is taught by ear, through call and response and is alive right away. You will be bathed in choral harmonies from the moment you walk in, and you’ll take the songs with you in your heart as you leave.