May 3, 2018
Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals Program Makes Carnegie Debut

Hotchkiss Summer Portals Piano Program Embarks on Sixth Year of
Musical Excellence in an Academic Setting

Students Will Give Carnegie Hall Performance on July 24, 2018

The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut will launch its sixth annual Summer Portals Piano Program from July 15-29, 2018.  Welcoming a highly selective, international body of exceptionally gifted students ages 11-19 by audition, this uncommonly rigorous two-week training program brings together acclaimed Hotchkiss faculty with guest artists, who engage the young artists with private lessons, masterclasses, and student and faculty concerts.

Hotchkiss Summer Portals Piano Program’s ideology is rooted firmly in the belief that music performance is an invaluable learning experience for aspiring musicians and academics alike, and that the discipline efficient practicing habits requires, and the development of poise needed for a successful music performance, helps build a crucial skill set which translates to any advanced study, and ultimately, any career path.

Each Piano Portals student performs in at least one public concert, while attending performances by their globally-renowned faculty.  In honor of Chairman and Board Member Frederick Frank (class of 1950) and Mary Tanner Frank, a special gala concert takes place on July 21, 2018 featuring celebrated international pianists, Hotchkiss Piano Program Director Fabio Witkowski and Resident Piano Faculty Gisele Nacif Witkowski; joining them are the Fine Arts Quartet, described as a “powerhouse of American chamber music,” (Washington Post) and with “tone… both beguilingly tangy and warm” (The Strad), comprised of violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Gil Sharon, and cellist Niklas Schmidt.  

Following the success of the Hotchkiss School Music Program’s Carnegie Hall debut performance in January 2018, the Summer Piano Portals Program makes its own Carnegie debut on July 24, 2018.  A complete summer concert calendar is listed below.

The Hotchkiss School recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and remains one of the most distinguished educational institutions on the East Coast.  For the past 16 years, the Summer Portals program, a nonprofit under the auspices of The Hotchkiss School, has offered advanced instruction to exceptionally gifted, dedicated young students from around the world in a variety of specialized subjects, including Software Engineering, Astronomy, Environmental Science, Speech and Debate, Robotics, American Literature and Theater, and others. The Piano Program, now commencing its sixth year, satisfies the enormous demand for outstanding musical leadership in a community which values music education at the same degree of importance as STEM subjects, literature, and the humanities.  Dean of Summer Programs, Stephen McKibben states, “Complementing the mission and values of The Hotchkiss School, Portals provides distinctive educational opportunities for students through immersion in programs such as Environmental Science, Software Engineering, Astronomy, Speech and Debate, and Piano‚Äč. Living together in dormitories with peers from around the country and globe, students pursue their passions, learn from extraordinary faculty, and make lifelong friends."

Click below to view video of the final student recital from the 2017 Summer Portals Program:

Frederick Frank and Mary Tanner Frank share this sentiment about the value of offering exceptionally bright, highly driven young students the opportunity to experience conservatory-level training with fine professional artists and pedagogues. “The goal of the Piano Portals program is that the intellectual demands and self-discipline required for classical music and confidence needed for successful live performance becomes a character-building experience for students of this age, between 6th and 12th grades, no matter what career path they choose to pursue later in life. Frederick Frank and I are honored to be part of this program and its Mission of providing exceptionally talented, bright, and motivated young people the kind of intensive learning environment in which they thrive,” remarks Mary Tanner Frank.  

Since its inception, the Piano Portals program has accepted young pianists solely on the basis of merit from more than 15 countries across North and South America, Asia, and Europe, engaging a diverse group of exceptionally musical young people and building a truly uncommon community of learning, encouragement, and friendship.  Each year, an increasing number of applicants compete for a limited amount of space via the Summer Portals standard application process as well as a recorded audition; in 2017, 30 students were selected for admission from a pool of approximately 250 applicants.  

The Piano Portals program welcomes extremely gifted students who play at an exceptional level while maintaining its focus on developing a lasting love for piano playing, regardless of the student’s future ambitions. Though many students continue their piano studies to college or conservatory with the goal of pursuing a career in piano performance, the program is also fully committed to accepting students who, in addition to their serious passion for piano, ultimately intend to follow a non-musical path,” said Fabio Witkowski and Gisele Nacif Witkowski.  “The Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals program's collaborative, non-competitive learning environment cultivates the technical and creative skills essential to the study of classical repertoire while instilling a lifelong joy in music-making.” Uniquely endowed with the resources to cater to some of the most promising young pianists and scholars in crucial period of learning and emotional development, Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals students are provided one of the most meaningful, informative, and gratifying experiences leading into their higher education and adulthood years.

2018 Concert Season:
Katherine M. Elfers Hall
Esther Eastman Music Center
Hotchkiss School
Lakeville, Connecticut

Sunday, July 15, 2018, 4:00PM
Oxana Yablonskaya

Wednesday, July 18, 2018, 7:30PM
Yuri Bogdanov

Saturday, July 21, 2018, 7:30PM
The Frederick and Mary Tanner Frank Concert
Fine Arts Quartet
Fabio Witkowski, Gisele Nacif Witkowski

Monday, July 23, 2018, 7:30PM
Leonel Morales, Leonel Morales-Herrero 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 8:00PM
Hotchkiss School Student Recital
*Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall
New York, NY

Thursday, July 26, 2018, 7:30PM
Leonel Morales-Herrero

Saturday, July 28, 2018, 7:30PM
Grand Finale Concert

Fabio Witkowski, Piano Program Director, Hotchkiss School
Gisele Nacif Witkowski Hotchkiss School
John Perry Rutgers University
Mina Perry John Perry Academy
Oxana Yablonskaya Tel Aviv University
Leonel Morales Universidad Alfonso X
Yuri Bogdanov Gnessin Academy
Lan Chen Shenzhen Arts School
Leonel Morales-Herrero Universidad Alfonso X

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