MM, The Juilliard School
BM, The Juilliard School
American violist Rita Porfiris has performed in major concert halls and music festivals worldwide as a chamber musician, orchestral musician, and as a soloist.
Currently the Professor of Viola and Chair 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. She is also co-Director of Music (with Hartt faculty Anton Miller) of the Point CounterPoint High School Session for Chamber Music in Vermont.
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.” She has commissioned and premiered many viola solos, concerti and chamber music for the viola and in February 2019 will give the U.S. Premiere of Peter Aviss’s Concerto for Viola in New York City.
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.