IRENA PORTENKO, piano
“…a relaxed and resourceful technique…her playing was admirably honest and clear-textured…puts her in select circle”
The New York Times
“…Irena Portenko is a prodigious pianist…her music was digitally challenging, and she met the challenge with error-free confidence…”
NYC Bargemusic “Now and then series” Concertonet.com
“…Irena Portenko (piano) shaped Bach moving as a terpsichorean, true and perfect, as one rarely could listen to it.”
“A superior talent”
– Audophile Audition
“Natural, effortless touch”
“A distinctive voice”
“…easy fluidity of touch and tone”
Music & Vision (London, UK)
“…sonorous and powerful [sound]”
New York Concert Review
“Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto interpretation with brilliance and feeling, resonance and contrast.”
The Leonding Journal (Austria)
Named to a “select circle” of pianists by The New York Times, Irena Portenko is an esteemed musical educator and strategic arts administrator promoting the longevity of live classical music through innovative educational programming. She is the Founding Executive and Artistic Director of “Music in the Alps,” an annual international music festival driving cross-cultural learning and innovation in classical music performance. In this role, she oversees all strategic, educational, operational, and artistic dimensions of the festival including the Concerto-Aria Competition. Ms. Portenko has grown the festival from a modest summer program to 300 participants within its first five years of operation and built strategic relationships with organizations including Concert Festival and the New York Foundation for the Arts to support the festival’s rapid growth trajectory.
Beyond organizational leadership, Ms. Portenko is a dedicated musical educator and scholar. She currently serves as Professor of Piano and Music Theory at The Music Conservatory of Westchester where she delivers musical instruction, trains students, and offers operational leadership for an array of programs. She draws upon 20+ years of experience teaching music at the post-secondary level as well as her original doctoral research on the evolution of the concert Etude. Ms. Portenko also delivers education beyond her institution through a growing roster of speaking engagements for audiences including the World Piano Conference, University of Nevada, and College Music Society Conference. Ms. Portenko also delights in teaching musicians of various ages and backgrounds at her piano studio in Westchester, NY.
Ms. Portenko continues to delight in bringing the richness of her cross-cultural musical training and experience to the stage. She has appeared as a soloist with orchestras and performed under the batons of Volodymyr Kozhuhar (Ukraine), Kenneth Kiesler (USA), Rossen Milanov (Bularia-USA), Volodymyr Sirenko (Ukraine), Uwe Harrer (Austria), Allin Vlasenko (Ukraine), and Dai Uk Lee (Korea). In addition to recital and solo work, Ms. Portenko is an avid chamber musician and has performed with distinguished artists at festivals and recitals around the world.
Born in Ukraine, Ms. Portenko first displayed a love and talent for the piano at age three and at age eight, debuted as a soloist with the Ukrainian National Orchestra, performing Haydn’s Concerto in D Major. She would later join the Kiev National Academy of Music where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Music, followed by the Ukrainian National Academy of Music where she completed a Post-Graduate degree. Eager to expand her work to an international audience, Ms. Portenko joined the University of Michigan School of Music where she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Music and Piano Performance. Her career as a performer has included a distinguished array of concerto performances including her performance of two Concerti by R. Schumann and by J. Brahms (No. 2) in one evening, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in December 2017. Ms. Portenko resides in Dobbs Ferry, NY.