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History of Boris Sirpo

Boris Sirpo (center)

Boris Sirpo (1893 – 1967) was a Russian-born Finnish violinist and conductor and a personal friend of composer Jean Sibelius (pictured on left). He came to Finland in 1912 as a violinist in the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. He founded the Vyberg Music Institute in 1918 and was conductor until the Winter War in 1939. After the war, he moved to Portland, Oregon where he taught at Lewis & Clark College. He founded the Portland Chamber Orchestra (PCO) in 1947. Prior to founding the orchestra, he also taught at Marylhurst College in Lake Oswego and founded a school in Hood River.

The piano was donated to Nordic Northwest in 2017 by Sirpo’s late wife, Gretchen Sirpo Clarke and his stepdaughter, Dianne Graham. Restoration of the piano was funded by Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter and donations from individuals.

Nordic Northwest and Portland Chamber Orchestra embarked on its collaboration in 2007 when Portland Chamber Orchestra celebrated its founding by Sirpo and invited the Nordic community to its celebration and concert. Conductor Yacov Bergman opened the concert with the Finnish National Anthem sung by the Suomettaret singing ensemble, supported by the The Portland Symphonic Choir. In 2015, Portland Chamber Orchestra began concerts and open rehearsals at Nordia House.

Experience Portland Chamber’s Orchestra’s virtuoso pianist Marcia Garcia play on Nordic Northwest’s Hamburg Steinway “ L” piano that was Boris Sirpo’s personal piano on 1/16/21 at the Shared Horizons Volume Two concert. Shared Horizons Volume Two is an online streaming concert featuring a performance from Nordia House with works by women composers from Sweden, France, Brazil, Norway, Puerto Rico, Britain, and the Americas. Learn more and register for the event here.


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