"The committee on Degrees and awards... awarded a Diploma in Orthodox Theological Studies to ... John Peter E Presson, Protopsaltis of the Diocese of Etna and Portland in recognition of his years of careful study of the Divine Services of the... Church; his mastery of Byzantine chant; and his collection, preparation and study of a multitude of Byzantine compositions"
- Orthodox Tradition Vol XXXII,3 2015
I am a lifelong musician from a family of professional musicians, who has studied and performed trombone, piano, pipe organ, harpsichord and voice, as well as the Irish Uilleann pipes.
I first studied Byzantine music under the auspices of the monks of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA in 1992 using western notation. My first post was the, now defunct, St. Innocent chapel in Seattle, WA. in 1995 I accepted the invitation to serve as the psaltis of Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Parish in Portland, OR. Over the years, my understanding of the Psaltic Art came to fruition under the tutelage and collegial friendship of Mr. John Michael Boyer, himself a student of the late Archon Protopsaltis Lycourgos Angelopoulos and Byzantine musicologist and composer Ioannis Arvanitis. In June of 2007 I was appointed Protopsaltis of the Metropolis of Portland and the Western United States in the American Exarchate of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece. In September of 2015, the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies awarded me the Diploma of Orthodox Theological Studies (honoris causa) in recognition of my work in the Psaltic Art.
I have a nationwide student base with students in California, New York and New Hampshire, and have held workshops at St. Nectarios Cathedral in Seattle, WA. I continue to serve as the Protopsaltis and director of liturgical music at Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral in Portland, OR and direct the Schola Cantorum here.