Review: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

Mark Morris | June 1, 2019

“Porter, still only 23, has everything: gorgeous tone, power, a sense of drama but also of whimsical introversion, a musical maturity well beyond her years. Best of all, she seems so utterly engrossed in the music, rather than in any flamboyant performance. That musicality is what makes her such a compelling performer and such an exciting prospect.

This was one of those wonderful occasions where all the elements — the orchestral playing, the conducting, and the solo playing — magically came together to be so much more than the sum of the parts. There was something almost fairy-taleish about the interpretation (appropriate for Prokofiev), from the countryside feel of the first movement (with Porter playing it like a fox dancing across the Russian steppe), through the sleigh ride and march of the second movement, to the mysteriously lyrical playing in the finale (just the right touch of sentiment without overt sentimentality). The balance between soloist and orchestra could not have been more perfectly judged. A really super performance.

The other main work… was Barber’s Violin Concerto, a work which Porter has had in her repertoire for four years. For Porter that final movement was a chance to show off her virtuoso side (she devoured its difficulties like a cat playing with a mouse), in another compelling performance. There was some delicious orchestral playing (notably from the two horns), and again magic in the lyricism of the first two movements, the great expanse of the American prairie unfolding in place of the Russian steppes of the Prokofiev.

Review: Mozart and Korngold: Mature Prodigies at Long Beach

David J Brown | May 2, 2019

“Anyone who knew the concerto just from Heifetz’s pioneering recording, with its urgent tempi for all three movements, would have had a shock here. Ms. Porter’s projection of her soaring opening theme was slower and more ruminative that any I’ve previously heard, and the many subsequent occasions when Korngold’s sheer chutzpah has the violin leap an octave or more became in her hands moments of far-seeking aspiration, perfectly clean in intonation and the antithesis of vulgar display.

As for orchestra and conductor, in the “virtually pulseless” (as he had described them) first two movements, they seemed to relish every gorgeous harmonic twist and turn, delineating clearly all the layered strands of Korngold’s iridescent orchestration and, in the central Romance, projecting a limpidly moonlit nocturne in which Ms. Porter’s weaving line glistened like gossamer spider-thread.

In total contrast the finale, somewhere between a sonata-rondo and an informal set of variations on the main theme, drawn from Korngold’s music for The Prince and the Pauper, bounced into ebullient life from the first bar of violin skittering and remained buoyantly airborne until the last roaring horn fanfare. The audience was still on its feet cheering when Ms. Porter on her third return to the platform gave as encore, not a piece of solo pyrotechnics, but a sweetly inward account of one of the double movements from Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B-flat minor BWV 1002. It was perfect.”


Review: Unconventional Wins the Day

Wayne Lee Gray | February 2, 2019

“Bruch gives the capable violin soloist a wonderful showcase in the opening phrase, stretching from the bottom to the top of the instrument’s range; Porter immediately demonstrated total technical command, virtuosic flair, and a beautiful tone across the spectrum, which she continued to display throughout the concerto and its dramatic journey. Her part often holds the spotlight with soaring melody, and just as often presents lyrical commentary to the orchestra’s pronouncements; she played both roles with appealing presence and consistently beautiful tone


Review: Why Dudamel conducting John Williams’ music in Disney Hall is unlike any Williams music you’ve heard before

Mark Swed | January 25, 2019

“In the most serious selection of the evening, the young violinist Simone Porter brought a soulful dark richness to the main theme from “Schindler’s List.”


Review: Simone Porter’s ravishing Korngold highlights Illinois Philharmonic opener

John von Rhein | October 21, 2018

“Porter commands the technical chops, throbbing vibrato but, most importantly, the expressive panache, needed to bring the music’s rhapsodic lyricism to life; she did so with absolute sincerity and not a whiff of gloppy sentiment. Indeed, the deep, penetrating sound she drew from her instrument – a 1745 Guadagnini violin on loan from the Mandell Collection of Southern California – easily rode Korngold’s shimmering orchestration.

Heifetz was, of course, nonpareil in “his” concerto, but Porter’s silken-toned virtuosity puts her right up there with the finest interpreters of her generation. Her intonation was impeccable, even in the breakneck digital gymnastics of the finale.”


Review: Colburn Orchestra, Usher Hall

Susan Nickels | August 22, 2018

“In Barber’s Violin Concerto there was precision and focus in spades as Denève encouraged a lively and perfectly balanced dialogue between the orchestra and soloist Simone Porter, a student at the Colburn conservatoire. The strings were lush and the woodwind solos crisp and full of character, echoing Porter’s beautiful tonal warmth and lyricism. And the orchestra never dropped a note or missed a beat in the breathtaking non-stop finale.”


Blog: Colburn Orchestra Soloist Simone Porter on their Irish debut

Simone Porter | August 22, 2018

“I am also ecstatic that we are performing the Barber Violin Concerto, a piece very near and dear to my heart. Although I’ve had the chance to perform this piece a number of times, every revisit I find more to explore in the shifts and nuances of its narrative trajectory, ambrosial textures, and insistent evocations. A work of great lyricism, my approach to the concerto recently received a new burst of inspiration in the form of a book: Henry James' masterpiece Portrait of a Lady. Isabel Archer's acute curiosity, her desire for intellectual and emotional adventure, and her movement through the near tragic consequences of this desire, deeply resonate with the texture of Barber's concerto; I delight in the thought that this tour with Colburn yields a glimpse of what James, Barber and Isabel Archer experienced, as Americans whose passions brought them to Europe, where they found artistic expression.”


Review: Sommerville spellbinding as Philharmonic guest conductor

Channing Gray | September 16, 2017

“That was followed by the popular Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Simone Porter. And wouldn’t you know that Sommerville and the soloist turned this tired warhorse into something fresh. Too often performances of the Tchaikovsky are all show. But last night it was all about the music, all about elegance, grace and heart.

Even in the fiery finale, she found moments of reflection.

The Tchaikovsky was so astonishing, the audience couldn’t help but respond with a thundering ovation at the end of the first movement.

Sommerville kept his eye on Porter throughout the performance, watching her every move, resulting in an amazing rapport where entrances and transitions were seamless.

Porter, who’s just 20, gave us all a lesson in violin playing during the big cadenza in the first movement, with whisper-soft harmonics that were right on the money. And her reflective slow movement was spellbinding.”

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Review: Hollywood Bowl veteran McGegan teams with 20-year-old talent Simone Porter for a winning night of Vivaldi

Richard S. Ginell | August 11, 2017

“Violinist Simone Porter sounded remarkably mature when she played the Barber concerto here three years ago, and now, at just 20, her authority and expressive range have grown even more. Refusing to accept the limitations of period performance, she played happily and gracefully with a big, plush tone and lots of dynamic contrasts and drama. McGegan and his strings accompanied briskly, with plenty of brio.”


Review: Simone Porter simply marvellous with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

Mark Morris | May 12, 2017

“Those unlucky concertgoers who arrived late at the Winspear Centre for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Friday may well have no idea what they missed — one of the most exciting performances of the first movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto they are ever likely to hear.

The 20-year old American Simone Porter made her first professional appearance with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10, premiered a violin concerto by Prior himself at the age of 12, and made her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic at the age of 13.

She is quite simply marvellous. She reminded me most of all of the young Yehudi Menuhin — the same kind of remarkable golden tones and vibrant smoothness, the huge sound, the sense that any technical virtuoso challenges are a figment of the imagination, the seemingly fearless ease of the whole thing. Like Menuhin, she has the energy, the invigoration of youth, but a maturity of emotional expression beyond her years… if you want to encounter someone who has all the potential to be one of the great violinists of her era, grab a ticket for Saturday while you can, and go hear Simone Porter play.”


Review: Stellar soloist at centerpiece, but Minnesota Orchestra felt rushed around it

Rob Hubbard | March 16, 2017

“And then there’s Mendelssohn’s E-minor Violin Concerto. Now that’s a “major.” In debates about history’s greatest violin concertos, scholars and audiences agree that it ranks near (or at) the top. And you would find nothing to dissuade you from that opinion if you caught soloist Simone Porter’s interpretation of it midday Thursday at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall. The 20-year-old rising star delivered a performance full of emotional expressiveness, gliding smoothly through the fastest passages or squeezing every drop of melancholy from the slow movement. Add some imaginative approaches to familiar phrases and you have a concert centerpiece that glowed brightly.Her first-movement cadenza drew the audience in as if hypnotized, while the ensuing Andante was a delicious blend of sadness and exhilaration, Porter’s high notes particularly powerful and clear. And the finale danced delightfully.”


Review: CSO's 'Appalachian Spring' is fresh, inspired

Janelle Gelfand | February 20, 2016

“The all-American program led by Louis Langrée in Music Hall introduced a terrific new American talent, Simone Porter, in the Barber Violin Concerto. The teen violinist stepped in at the last moment for the announced soloist, concertmaster Timothy Lees, who is nursing a stress injury, and delivered a ravishing

Perhaps because she’s been playing professionally since age 10, Porter is already a strikingly mature artist at just 19. A student at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, this rising star already has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and many others, and is a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Her musical gifts were ideal for Barber’s lyrical work. Samuel Barber’s Concerto of 1939- 40 features a nonstop stream of dazzling melody for the violinist in the first two movements. It’s not until the finale that the soloist has a chance to put on a real show of virtuosity.

Porter is an elegant player who is not overly emotive, both assets in this piece. From the first note, the big, rapturous sound she produced on her 1745 Guadagnini was something to behold in Music Hall’s space. She played consistently with singing tone, beauty of line and expressive phrasing, at times turning to communicate with the orchestra.

The finale was a lightning-quick, and she tossed off its explosive fireworks, smiling all the while. It was an electrifying performance that made you feel lucky to witness.”

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Review: L.A. Phil digs into early Beethoven, explores what is immortal

Mark Swed | October 2, 2015

“Innocence was reserved for elsewhere. Dudamel filled out the program with Beethoven's two violin romances. These pleasingly sweet slow movements for violin and orchestra were played by Simone Porter, a 19-year-old student at the Colburn Conservatory. Her assured, lovingly lyrical, occasionally frisky playing only confirmed what is becoming common knowledge in the musical world: that she is on the cusp of a major career.”


Review: Simone Porter Triumphs as Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Open Immortal Beethoven Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Laurence Vittes | October 2, 2015

“The opening of Gustavo Dudamel's Beethoven cycle at Walt Disney Concert Hall was dominated by Simone Porter, who wove the chains of musical enchantment in Beethoven's two Romances with such ferocious choreography that it might have been a dancer playing the fiddle instead of a violinist moving in time with the music. At times the music seemed to rival the greatest moments of Beethoven's mighty Violin Concerto in its intense, heard-rending beauty.

Dressed in a ruby red appropriate to the heavy overtones of the cycle's moniker, Immortal Beethoven, 18-year old Porter moved with a spontaneous sense of inner choreography that caught the musical pleasure she delivered with her creamy tone, passionate phrasing, and near perfect timing.”

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Review: Simone Porter, Ludovic Morlot a star combo at Hollywood Bowl

Richard S. Ginell | September 5, 2014

“And Morlot had a future star to work with in violinist Simone Porter, the 17-year-old,  Seattle-raised Colburn School student who was making her Bowl and Philharmonic debut Thursday night.

Wait: Let's strike the word "future."  She sounds ready.  Now.

Bypassing the usual concerto warhorses that regularly turn up at the Bowl, Porter took on Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, which survived the fashion wars of the 20th century and is increasingly finding a place in the 21st.

The piece gives a violinist everything one would want to make an impression -- ravishing tunes, arching lyricism and dazzling virtuosity with a tart edge. The latter, though, comes only in the form of a brief race-track finale all out of proportion to the lengthier spans of the preceding two movements.

The remarkably mature Porter easily encompassed every aspect of this bipolar concerto. Her ripe tone quality sang directly and naturally throughout the first two movements, with a seamless legato, no forcing, and a sure grip of the overall line.

She has arrived at the point where she could explore the angles and colors of all of those treacherous figurations in the finale at a lightning-like tempo, not just skittering over the surface or blurring the notes as even some great violinists of the past have done here.”

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Next lesson for Simone Porter, 17: solo debut with L.A. Philharmonic

Jessica Gelt | August 30, 2014

“Porter puts it another way: ‘It's simultaneously heartbreaking but also inspiring that we're always working toward this technical perfection and musical enlightenment and we're never going to get there,’ she says. ‘And I kind of love that. You have a lifelong education with an incredible partner.’

She calls her appearance with the L.A. Phil the highlight of her career, which also includes debuts with the New York Philharmonic and the Pasadena, Pacific, Albany, Nashville, Utah and Corpus Christi symphonies as well as a repeat performance at the Aspen Music Festival.

For her part, Porter just wants to continue to spread the gospel of classical music.

‘I think a lot of people who consider it obsolete have very limited exposure. They don't understand how varied, how emotional classical music is,’ she says, sitting beside her 1745 J.B. Guadagnini violin. ‘Classical music can be scary, it can be sexy, it can be romantic, it can be desperately sad — all these shades of emotion and expressive possibilities, that's where its power lies.’