At 15 years old, violinist Simone Porter has been recognized by national and international critics as an emerging artist of impassioned energy, musical integrity and vibrant sound. Her performances have been described as “bold” (Seattle Times), “coolly virtuosic” (The London Times), and Simone herself has been praised as “a consummate chamber musician” (The Telegraph). Simone made her professional solo debut at age 10 with the Seattle Symphony, and her London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at 13. The growing list of orchestras with which she has appeared include the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, the Northern Sinfonia and the Milton Keynes City Orchestra in the UK, the Olympia Symphony and Port Angeles Symphony orchestras in Washington, and the New West Symphony and Young Musician Foundation’s Debut Orchestra in California, among others. In May 2012, Simone made her professional recital debut on the Miami International Piano Festival’s “Prodigies and Masters of Tomorrow” series.
Simone’s upcoming engagements for the first half of the 2012-2013 season include several debuts. In July, she makes her Aspen Music Festival debut performing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in D major, RV 511, with violinist Adele Anthony conducted by Nicholas McGegan. In September, Simone makes her debut with the American Youth Symphony and music director Alexander Treger at Los Angeles’s Royce Hall performing Paganini’s Concerto No. 1 in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 6, followed by her debut with the Reno Philharmonic and music director Laura Jackson in October, also performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1. In December she appears on the 2012-2013 Colburn Chamber Music Society Series at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, performing Mozart’sString Quintet No. 3 in C Major, K.515 with violinist Arnold Steinhardt. She returns to her home town of Seattle later in the month to perform Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, “Winter” from The Four Seasons with Orchestra Seattle under conductor Huw Edwards.
Past performances of note include a solo appearance at the Great Eastern International Kids Performing Festival in Singapore in 2010. In 2008, Simone had the honor of performing for the Dalai Lama at the opening ceremony of a five-day symposium on compassion in Seattle, Washington.
Nationally, Ms. Porter was heard in a recorded live performance in June/July 2012 on the renowned syndicated NPR radio program From the Top, featuring America’s best young classical musicians and hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley. The performance marked Simone’s third appearance on the program; she first appeared, at the age of 11, on From the Top in 2007. Three months later she made her Carnegie Hall debut on the Emmy Award winning TV show From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall. Other TV appearances include being featured in the BBC Documentary, The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies, aired in the UK in June 2009. She has also been featured on Seattle, Washington’s Kiro 7 TV’s Quarterly Magazine, In Color. In August 2011 she was selected as the only Aspen Music Festival and School student to be featured on the popular national APM radio program “Performance Today,” recorded live at Aspen’s Harris Hall.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Simone Porter was recently selected as a 2011 Davidson Fellow Laureate by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, which carries with it a $50,000 scholarship to further her musical education. In 2009 she was presented as an “Emerging Young Artist” by the Seattle Chamber Music Society.
Raised in Seattle, Washington, Simone Porter studied with Margaret Pressley as a recipient of the Dorothy Richard Starling Scholarship for six years and was then admitted into the studio of the renowned pedagogue Robert Lipsett with whom she presently studies at The Colburn School in Los Angeles. Her studies at the Colburn School’s Academy also include chamber music coaching with Arnold Steinhardt and Paul Coletti, academic music classes and additional violin studies with Danielle Belen. Summer musical studies have included attendance at the Aspen Music Festival for the past six years, Indiana University’s Summer String Academy and the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy.
Simone Porter plays on a 1742 Camillus Camilli violin on generous loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California.
CONTACT: Laura Liepins, The Colburn School ׀ 213.621.4537 ׀ Lliepins@colburnschool.edu
Interview with Simone Porter
Tell us a little bit about your background. Do you come from a musical family?
I do not come from a musical family! My parents, both professors of International Studies at the University of Washington, were not exposed to much classical music growing up. When I was very young, they had only a few classical music CDs, including one titled, “Puccini for Saturdays.” They noticed that I showed great interest in this particular CD- I played it over and over again, and even quoted my favorite arias! One day, after I had heard Tosca wail “Mario, Mario!” for the umpteenth time, I strode into the kitchen, held out my sippy cup, and sang, “Mamio, Mamio, I want more milk!!” After this incident, my parents took note of my musical interests, and began to expose me to operas, ballets, and symphony concerts. I began to ask to play the violin, and started when I was 3 and a half.
What is your favorite memory from last year at AYS?
My first year with AYS was such a wonderful whirlwind of inspiration and education! I adored working with Maestro Treger and performing orchestral masterpieces alongside my colleagues. My favorite memories include performing Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony in the opening concert, as well as performing on stage in Disney Hall.
What are you most looking forward to playing with AYS this season?
Apart from performing Paganini’s Concerto in the first concert this year, I am excited to perform Bernstein’s West Side Story: Symphonic Dances, West Side Story being one of my favorite musicals of all time, and Shostakovich’s epic 5th Symphony.
Tell us about the Paganini Concerto. What attracted you to it? What are some of the challenges? Are you playing it anywhere else this season?
The Paganini Violin Concerto has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most technically difficult concertos in the violin repertoire. When I first approached this concerto, I found the many passages of double stops, harmonics, special bow strokes and speedy scales very daunting, but I’ve come to realize that all these techniques are a means to an end, rather than an end within themselves. The result is a brilliant showcase for the violin and all it can do; Paganini truly wrote instrumental opera. I am excited beyond expression to perform this concerto with AYS! In October, I will have the opportunity to perform Paganini with the Reno Philharmonic.
What’s next for you after AYS and the Colburn Academy? Where do you see your career taking you?
Right now, I am honored to be a member of AYS and the Colburn Academy, where I study with my beloved teacher, Mr. Robert Lipsett. This is my final year of high school, and next year I hope to continue studies at the Colburn Conservatory. I have a great passion for the solo violin repertoire, and hope to continue to have opportunities to share the transformative power of these works. However, I love all forms of music-making, including chamber music, and, of course, performing in orchestras such as AYS!