Arlene Portney became the first American woman pianist to win first prize in a major international competition when she captured the Prix Beracasa in Paris, France. This event expanded an already growing international reputation dating back to her appearance as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was “the gifted ten-year-old pianist who stole the show with a first rate performance”(The Philadelphia Inquirer). Discovered by Jeunesses Musicales while giving a concert at Carnegie Hall as a teenager, she has toured extensively ever since. Her solo appearances have included engagements with many major orchestras such as, in this country, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony, and the Boston Pops, as well as solo recitals from New York’s Lincoln Center to Tschaikowsky Hall in Moscow, Russia. The critics have been unanimous in their acclaim of this artist:
“Arlene Portney becomes life itself with her lyricism, her passion, her tenderness.”
Le Monde, Paris
“A brilliant technique of the artistic cut, a touch displaying a most sensitive musicality.”
Berliner Morgenpost, Berlin
“Technique and beauty of artistic genius.”
Panorama, Maracaibo, Venezuela
Ms. Portney has been heard in broadcasts of full-length recitals over North American, European, and Russian radio and has appeared on national television in many countries. In a tribute to Princess Grace of Monaco, PBS’s Great Performances presented Ms. Portney in a program broadcast from the Kennedy Center with then First Lady, Nancy Reagan, and Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the National Symphony. Her varied interests have taken her from the most esteemed concert halls performing the great classics to sharing the bill with pop entertainers in benefit performances. Schools, universities, and other organizations have also been delighted by her presentations of lecture-recitals.
When she was only three years old, Ms. Portney began playing the piano; she gave her first public performance at age six. Three years later, she was accepted as a full-scholarship student to the Curtis Institute of Music. After graduating as one of the youngest musicians from this prestigious musical institution at age fifteen, Ms. Portney continued her studies in France with Arthur Rubinstein, Robert Casadesus, and Nadia Boulanger. Upon her return to the United States, she entered the Juilliard School where she studied with the famed artist, Sascha Gorodnitzki. Following the completion of her studies, she attended Yale University and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree after which she served on the faculty. Ms. Portney added a new dimension to her career, that of chamber musician, playing with her brother, violinist, Robert Portney, other major solo artists, members of the National Symphony, and the Twentieth Century consort. Her recordings include a release with violinist, Eugene Fodor, of the Sonata for Violin and Piano by Pulitzer Prize winner, John Corigliano, and other contemporary works. Among her recent appearances Ms. Portney has performed in two-piano concerts such as at New York’s Caramoor concert series and lecture-recitals for the Philadelphia Orchestra pre-concert lecture series. In addition, Ms. Portney’s playing can be heard on the piano tracks from the movie, End Call, with a score by John Lissauer.