Artistic Director

The Honorable Chris Oberholtzer

 Biography of Chris Oberholtzer

Dr. Christopher Oberholtzer, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern Maine, completed his Doctor of Arts degree in Trombone Performance/Pedagogy with a Secondary Emphasis in Jazz Pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. Chris earned his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies with a Cognate Field of Trombone Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine, Gorham.

As a professor and director of jazz studies at USM, Chris leads a thriving program that is recognized as being one of the leading college jazz programs in New England. In addition to his USM teaching responsibilities, Chris also enjoys actively serving throughout the country as a guest artist, director and/or clinician for numerous high school and college jazz ensembles, including All-State and Honors Festivals in Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Other major appearances include those at universities such as the University of Northern Colorado, Brevard College (North Carolina), Ball State University, Eastern Washington University and Utah State University. Chris’ performance credits also include international festivals such as the (Newport) JVC Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Chris maintains a busy schedule as a professional freelance trombonist. He has performed, toured and recorded throughout the country and abroad with many groups in varying classical, jazz and commercial genres. His playing experience includes touring with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Ringling Brothers Circus, Toni Tenille the Capitol Jazz Orchestra and Holland America cruise lines. Other performing credits include working with artists and/or bands such as the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Claudio Roditi, Wayne Bergeron, the New York Voices, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, Byron Stripling, Phil Wilson, Wycliff Gordon, Ronie Cuber, Frank Wess, Bob Mintzer, Herb Pomeroy, Richie Cole, Dick Johnson, Aaron Neville, Roberta Flack and the Temptations.

Serving as Musical Director of the Portland Jazz Orchestra, Chris is quite busy with the details of leading a regionally active big band. The Portland Jazz Orchestra is a contemporary big band staffed by jazz professionals, many of whom are also music educators, from the northern New England area. Playing music from the classic libraries of the Count Basie Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Woody Herman Orchestra, the PJO also enjoys performing more contemporary big band literature from prominent writers such as Gordon Goodwin, Tom Kubis and Maria Schneider. In addition, the PJO focuses on performing original compositions and arrangements written by its own band members. Many of these compositions are published and are highly regarded on a national level.

As a clinician for the Conn-Selmer Corporation, Chris performs on Bach trombones.

It’s a Waltz Man // Portland Jazz Orchestra - Nor'easter
  1. It’s a Waltz Man // Portland Jazz Orchestra - Nor'easter