Music Staff


Mr. Distante

Director of Instrumental Music

Matthew Distante has been involved with the instrumental music program as a brass coach at Portola since 2021, and joined the teaching staff in 2023. He graduated from California State University, Long Beach in the spring of 2021 with two bachelor's degrees, one in Music Education and one in Tuba Performance. He has also been a music substitute teacher since 2021 in IUSD and LBUSD and has a wealth of knowledge in high school music education, working at over 10 different high schools across 6 different school districts. As of now, Mr. Distante teaches two beginning guitar classes, the symphonic band, the string orchestra, and teaches visual for the marching band program. He also has a wealth of knowledge as a freelance musician, consistently performing on instruments such as tuba, electric and upright bass, guitar, and percussion. Outside of music, he enjoys coffee, yoga, meditation, hiking, and playing board games with his friends. Mr. Distante is thrilled to bring his knowledge and passion for teaching to Portola and is eager to learn and grow as an educator every step of the way.

Mr. Rangel

Director of Vocal Music

Adrian Rangel-Sanchez has been the director of Vocal Music at PHS since 2017, the second year of Portola High School's history. An Irvine native, Mr. Rangel graduated from University High School prior to completing a B.A. in Music Education at IVC and CSU Fullerton. He is currently completing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at CSU Fullerton. In addition to directing, Mr. Rangel also plays piano, guitar, and bass guitar. He also serves as Vocal Music Director for the annual musical theater production put on by the Performing Arts Department. In his spare time, Mr. Rangel enjoys traveling, cooking, baking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family. Teaching music is his greatest passion and he is incredibly grateful to be able to work with the compassionate and dedicated music students of Portola each and every day.  He holds active memberships with the California Choral Directors Association and the Southern California Vocal Association. 

Mr. Stevens

Director of Instrumental Music

Desmond Stevens grew up in Irvine and graduated in one of the first few classes at Northwood High School when it first opened. While earning a BA in Music Education and a BA in Sociology at UCLA, Mr. Stevens traveled the globe with performing ensembles from the university. After graduating, Mr. Stevens earned his Masters in Musicology from UC Riverside where he studied the music of Latin America. Now back in his hometown, Mr. Stevens helped open Portola High School as its first music teacher. He is now very excited to have Mr. Rangel and Mr. Traska join in on the adventure of growing PHS into a comprehensive music program and to build a reputation of having the most respectable and innovative programs in the country.  

Mr. Traska

Director of Instrumental Music

Kyle Traska is a native of Wisconsin and has been living and working in Southern California since the fall of 2012. Mr. Traska began his musical journey studying piano, then added violin and percussion and played all three throughout high school. Mr. Traska's studies and performances have allowed him to travel both nationally and internationally, notably with the Youngblood Brass Band and with G.R.E.S. Sereno de Campo Grande. Mr. Traska  has worked with music ensembles in the marching, classical, jazz, rock, and world music settings and is excited to share his love and passion for music of all genres with his students

Kyle holds a Bachelor's in Music Performance degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and a teaching credential through Concordia University Irvine as well as his CTE credential.

Student Teachers

Mr. Pano

Student Teacher - Vocal Music

Jason Pano is a single subject credential student at Cal State Fullerton for the 2023-24 school year in the Irvine School District. He works with Miguel Chicas at Beacon Park and Adrian Rangel-Sanchez at Portola High School where he vocal coached for the vocal program for the last six years. Jason earned his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at CSUF and his Bachelors in Music in Music Theory and Composition from Sacramento State University. Jason currently serves as choral director at Palisades United Methodist Church in Capistrano Beach, sings professionally with Pacific Chorale, president of the Fullerton Alumni Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, and works as the CSUF College of the Arts’ Social Media Strategist. On his off time, Jason enjoys the art of cooking (his pandemic project was making dumplings) and table-top and computer games. He enjoys good company and good food! He hopes he can serve as a role model to young Asian Americans that a life and career in the arts is possible.

Collaborative Pianist - Vocal Music

Mrs. Hollow

Malila Hollow is a graduate of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, where she earned both a Bachelors and Masters of Music in Piano Performance. She studied under Mark Uranker and Craig Richey, respectively.  Since graduating in 2017, Malila has enjoyed accompanying soloists at conservatories, multiple choir programs, and ballet classes of all levels, as well as teaching piano privately and directing musicals. In 2018, she had the pleasure of attending the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival on 3/4 scholarship and studied under Dr. Dmitri Shteinberg. She has also performed in masterclasses given by Dr. Hyunsoon Whang and Stewart Gordon. Notable performances include the MTAC Solo Piano Recital (2017), Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall (2019), and her appearance in 3 Yamaha Demo videos.

Coaching Staff

Matthew Ballard

Woodwind Coach

Clint Koehler

Marching Band Coach

Jason Fry

Marching Percussion Coach

Troy Sargent

Brass Coach

Michael Corter

Woodwinds Coach

Rebekah Daigh

Colorguard Coach

Luke Christe

Low Brass Coach; Visual Coach

Jonathan Zuniga

Ensemble Consultant