Currently the Associate Professor of Viola and Director of Chamber Music 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, Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic.
Ms. Porfiris is a member of the Miller-Porfiris Duo and the Hartt Quartet. 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.
In her 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. Equally at home in a wide variety of genres, Rita has shared the stage with Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Lyle Lovett, Rod Stewart, and Tony Bennett, to name a few.
Highlights of recent seasons include chamber concerts with Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, and Jamie Laredo; tours to Israel, Europe, and Taiwan; sold-out concerto appearances at the historic Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany; Baltimore, Maryland and Lincoln, Nebraska; and a performance of the rarely played Romantic Rhapsody for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Arthur Benjamin as part of the Miller-Porfiris Duo. In May 2016, the Baltimore Sun declared “Rita Porfiris proved an ideal soloist, as much for her richness of tone and impeccable articulation as for the warmth and subtlety of her phrasing.”
Rita’s transcriptions for the viola of both classical music staples and pop favorites have been enjoyed worldwide by audiences and performers. Gramophone Magazine called her transcription of Gliere’s Eight Pieces Op. 39, recorded on the Miller-Porfiris Duo’s second CD “Eight Pieces,” “satisfying” and “sung with beautiful warmth.” Recent acclaim from Fanfare for the Duo’s third CD, entitled “Divertimenti” declares their playing “a lightning bolt” and speaks to the “color, fire, and passion.”
Ms. Porfiris received both her BM and MM in Viola Performance from The Juilliard School, studying with William Lincer. Other teachers and mentors included 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