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Jeffrey Palmer & Irena Portenko Will Perform at Weill Recital Hall

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Jeffrey Palmer & Irena Portenko Will Perform at Weill Recital Hall

M Productions presents HYGGE featuring countertenor Jeffrey Palmer and pianist Irena Portenko on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 7:30pm at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Together they will explore the concept of "hygge" - a Nordic word for "cozy" - through music. This eclectic program features a selection of arias and art songs by Handel, Debussy, Schubert, and more. The evening's program also includes new settings of traditional Irish and Icelandic melodies, an original a cappella arrangement of a piece by Huang Ruo, the New York premiere of a solo piano work by 17-year-old composer Benjamin Araujo, and piano duo works by Piazzolla, Chaminade, and Rachmaninoff featuring special guest artist Zachary Hoffman. This concert will mark the Carnegie Hall debut of Jeffrey Palmer. Generously supported by the Inez S. Bull Foundation.

Dr. Inez Stewart Bull (1920-2010) was a coloratura soprano, concert pianist, beloved music teacher and humanitarian. A graduate of the Juilliard School and the New York College of Music, she dedicated decades of her life to music, spending her early years as an opera singer and her latter years in duo piano concerts, touring domestically and internationally. The Inez S. Bull Foundation was established in 2011 and is committed to continuing her tradition of lifelong commitment to the performing arts.

Jeffrey Palmer, countertenor, had his vocal debut at the age of nine, singing the Pie Jesu from the Fauré Requiem Mass in his native Virginia. As a critically acclaimed recitalist, he has gone on to perform in venues across North America, Europe and China, and is known for his "particularly attractive timbre with more warmth to the tone than often found with countertenors," and for singing "with great imagination and deep feeling for the words." (Henry Fogel, Fanfare Magazine). His eclectic taste and flexible musicality have allowed him to be as comfortable in Purcell and Handel as he is in Britten and Björk, with his concerts around the world often being likened to performance art. In 2019, he released Beauty 美, his first full-length album in collaboration with pianist Riko Higuma for Blue Griffin Records.

Jeffrey has collaborated with Erickson Beamon on several New York Fashion Week shows, leading him to be hailed as "ethereal" by British journalist and Vogue editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, and has lent his voice to collaborations with visual artists including Joan Snyder, Leo Villareal, and Jennifer Wen Ma. As a collaborative composer, Jeffrey co-wrote and recorded a track with cellist Danny Bensi featured in the 2016 Netflix documentary Amanda Knox, and has worked on several arrangements of traditional British and Irish folk songs, which he often performs live. Among his many theatre credits are the role of Frederick in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance (Theatre Royal, Bath, UK) and the Voice of Tiresias in Lives of Tiresias (Jefferson Market Playhouse, NYC). He can also be seen in the 2014 French-American film Love Is Strange, directed by Ira Sachs.

Jeffrey serves as vocal faculty for the Music in the Alps Festival in Austria and as the United States Correspondent for Australian classical and new music magazine CutCommon. Jeffrey holds a BA in Music from Bath Spa University in the UK and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.

Named to a "select circle" of pianists by The New York Times, Dr. 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. Dr. 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. In 2020, "Music in the Alps," in conjunction with Bad Gastein Tourism will launch a Winter Concert series and feature multi-cultural and eclectic programs for the festival's guests.

Beyond organizational leadership, Dr. Portenko is a dedicated musical educator and scholar. She currently serves as Piano Faculty at The Music Conservatory of Westchester where she delivers music history and theory classes, 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. Dr. 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.

Dr. 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 Grammy-Nominated Kenneth Kiesler (USA), Volodymyr Kozhuhar (Ukraine), Rossen Milanov (Bulgaria-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, Dr. 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 N*E*R*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.

In January of 2020, Ms. Portenko will hold several performances in her native Ukraine, featuring Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 with Volodymyr Sirenko and National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Schubert's Trout Quintet with prominent Ukrainian musicians as well as HYGGE program with Jeffrey Palmer. These musical festivities will mark Portenko's 30-year professional musical activities.


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