Concert Pianist

Irena Portenko



IRENA PORTENKO began her newsworthy performance career at the age of eight, having performed Haydn’s Concerto in D Major with the Ukrainian National Orchestra.  Her startling array of appearances has since been described as possessing “passion, diligence, tenderness and . . . robust virtuosity” [Ukrainian Weekly, MI, 2000].  Her distinctly perceptive and courageous musicality has been shared with orchestras and audiences throughout Europe and America, including multiple concerto recitals, international competitions, and festivals.

As soloist and chamber collaborator, Ms. Portenko has appeared in recitals from Ukraine and Russia to Germany, France, Italy, United States, and elsewhere.  She has given interpretations of most important works of piano repertoire, has enjoyed collaborations with exciting composers and performers such as violinists Andrew Jennings, Walter Verdehr and Jeremy Kittel; flutist Amy Porter; cellists Anthony Elliot and Natalia Khoma: tenor George Shirley and bass Stephan Szkafarovsky. Additionally, she has been pleased to premiere Myroslav Skoryk’s sonata for Violin and Piano in collaboration with Solomia Soroka and triptych “Venetian blinds” for solo piano by Michael Daugherty.

Culminating an extensive body of work, her talents carried her into the semifinals in the 2002 Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition (Salt Lake City, UT).  She was also a 1999 and 2002 winner of University of Michigan’s Concerto Competition, 1994 Pierre Lantier International Competition (Paris, France), and 1993 Prokofiev National Competition (Donetsk, Ukraine), among others. Currently, Ms. Portenko is working on the recording of Twenty Four Etudes by F. Chopin and lecture-presentation of Liszt’s Grandes Études après Paganini.

Ms. Portenko’s particular interest is to explore the possibilities for developing intercultural relationships within higher and pre-college music education institutions between the United States and Ukraine, including exchanging experience in coordinating the structure of the graduate programs in Ukraine, while retaining the high quality of its education; organizing summer music programs, masterclasses and institutes with the participation of leading Ukrainian musicians in the United States.

Ms. Portenko has been judging the Solo Piano and Chamber Music Competition Art of the 21st Century, taught applied piano curriculum at Albion College (Albion, MI), and keyboard skill classes and piano performance at University of Michigan Piano Pedagogy Program.  Ms. Portenko holds DMA and MM degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan, Chamber Music DMA (equivalent) from Kiev Conservatory (Ukraine), and BM from Kiev State Conservatory.  Her teachers include Logan Skelton, Yong Hi Moon, Arthur Greene, and Igor Ryabov.

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