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.
Albert Lotto, as a young man was cited by music critic, Robert Sherman of the New York Times, as a pianist of "spectacular virtuosity" and by Irving Heller of the Montreal Gazette as one who has the gift to communicate the romance and poetry of the music of Brahms, Schumann and Chopin with an "ability which is rare, even phenomenal for one of his years". Since the inception of a career which now spans 42 years, and which begins in 1965 when he won First Prize at the Montreal International Piano Competition at 19 years old, he has focused on making the piano "sing"; he uses the piano as an orchestra or as an ensemble under his hands, and creates music with a beauty of sound and colorful excitement. In Denmark recitals by Albert Lotto are hailed be the press as "memorable events, which should be looked forward to with every return to Europe" and in Japan, The Japan Times comments, "he holds together large scale symphonic works with the hands of a master". He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the Julliard School while a student of Sashay Gorodnitzki, and at the same time and with the support of the school enjoyed lessons with Vladimir Horowitz. While at the Juilliard he completed his Doctorate which is published as a study edition of the Experimental Music for Piano of Charles Ives.
As a child he studied with pianist, Artur Balsam who was hailed by music critic Harold Schoenberg of the New York Times as "The King of American Accompanists". The relationship with Artur Balsam continued throughout his life. He carries forward the tradition of great chamber music playing passed on down to him by Balsam. He has performed with violinist and violist Joseph and Lillian Fuchs, cellist, Barbara Stein Mallow and Carol Stein Amado in the Chamber Arts Trio, with Thomas Prevost, principle Flute of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, Sumiko Hama of the National Orchestra of France, Kazuki Sawa, head of the violin Department at the Tokyo College of Fine Arts, Maurice Eisenberg, assistant to Pablo Casals at the Eisenberg Festival in Cascais, Portugal, Markus Weidmann of the Berlin Philharmonic, as a member of the Tenri Chamber Ensemble. Albert Lotto's musical relationship with the Fuchs family has continued consistently since 1960 when he first performed at Kneisel Hall in Maine. The 2007-2008 seasons will see Dr. Lotto will travel to Japan, Taiwan, Israel, and China and to Europe where he plays solo recitals, concertos and chamber music, and appearing regularly at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City as a founding member of the Tenri Chamber Ensemble.