Always trying to bridge the gap between popular culture and classical music, violist RITA PORFIRIS has been the subject of articles and interviews in media across the globe including the New York Times, Chamber Music America, International Symphony Musician, the NBC Nightly News, NPR, PBS, and the BBC. She has performed in major concert halls and music festivals worldwide and as a soloist has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, the New World Symphony, and was a featured soloist in the Houston Symphony’s Baroque Festival.
Currently the Associate Professor of Viola at The Hartt School, she has also been on the faculties of New York University, the University of Houston Moores’ School of Music, Florida International University, and the Harlem School for the Arts in New York. She has given master classes, lectures and clinics across the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, and the Dominican Republic.
Ms. Porfiris is a member of the Hartt String Quartet and the Miller-Porfiris Duo. As a founding member of the Plymouth Quartet, she was in-residence at the Ojai Festival, Mainly Mozart, Point Counterpoint, and the Internationale Quartettakademie Prag-Wien-Budapest. She was the recipient of Austria’s prestigious Prix Mercure, a prize winner in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Primrose International Viola Competition, and a laureate of the Paolo Borciani International Quartet Competition. She was awarded the National Music Leadership award in 2007 by the Texas chapter of music sorority Sigma Alpha in recognition of her dedication to the promotion of music and string playing at the high school and university level.
In her former 20 year-long career as an orchestral musician, 15 years of which were spent with the Houston Symphony, she worked under some of the most recognized conductors of the 20-21 Centuries, including Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, Kurt Masur, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Christoph Eschenbach. She also enjoys dabbling on the Pop spectrum, and has shared the stage with Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Bernadette Peters, Rita Moreno, Debbie Reynolds, K.D. Lang, Blood, Sweat and Tears, America, Roger Williams, Lyle Lovett, Rod Stewart, and Tony Bennett, among others.
Highlights of the 2013-14 season include chamber concerts with Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, and Jamie Laredo; sold-out Bartok Concerto appearances at the historic Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, and a performance of the rarely played Romantic Rhapsody for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Arthur Benjamin with the Concert Artists of Baltimore as part of the Miller-Porfiris Duo.
Rita’s transcriptions for the viola of both classical music staples and pop favorites have been enjoyed by audiences and performers from the U.S. to China. She received critical acclaim in the May 2014 issue of Gramophone Magazine for her transcription of Reinhold Gliere’s Eight Pieces Op. 39, recorded on the Miller-Porfiris Duo’s second CD “Eight Pieces” and released in the fall of 2013.
Ms. Porfiris received both her BM and MM in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School, studying with William Lincer. Other teachers and mentors have been Paul Doktor, Norbert Brainin, and Harvey Shapiro.
“…delivered with considerable fire and flair…a compelling, vividly etched account of Bartok”- the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“ easy elegance” – L.A. Times
“…deeply touching” – N.Y. Times
“an up-and-coming force from South Florida” – Chamber Music America
“..offered a stunning performance of Crumb’s Black Angels…the score’s complexities were brilliantly articulated; the troubling images behind the sounds compellingly covered” -Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“the squeaky-clean, idiomatic account brought out an astonishing command of color, great rhythmic energy, and complex but impeccably clear counterpoint” – San Antonio Express-News
“Porfiris was gloriously eloquent with both the surging delirium and the chanting stasis in this sonata…” “unerring sense of drama and intensely alert interaction held the capacity audience spellbound throughout…it was damn the torpedoes and shoot out the lights, there’s no tomorrow” – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“haunting and picturesque….. sultry ….All four players were constantly in sync with each other, so the concert was like a gentle intrusion on a very intimate conversation. Go if you get the chance!!”- Duluth News Tribune
“Violinist Anton Miller and violist Rita Porfiris sailed through the piece with admirable expressive flair and technical poise, smoothly backed by conductor and ensemble. The soloists tossed in a welcome encore — (Porfiris’) souped-up version of the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia that included a wry touch of Piazzolla — and played the heck out of it” – Baltimore Sun
“….navigated the complex counterpoint well in movement one. Soloists play well together, assisted by their constant attention to each other’s performance nuances….an excellent show for the Miller-Porfiris Duo with standing, cheering patrons wanting more”- Lincoln Journal-Star