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Teen piano prodigy to play Proctors

Teen piano prodigy to play Proctors

Although Ethan Bortnick is only 15, he's also an acclaimed pianist. And he'll perform at Proctors in
Teen piano prodigy to play Proctors
Fifteen-year-old piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick will perform at Proctors in Schenectady on Friday.

Most of the time, Ethan Bortnick acts his age.

At 15, he is into video games. He likes to read, play football and basketball and hang out with his younger brother Nathan.

Ethan Bortnick

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

HOW MUCH: $39-$19

MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org

Other times are reserved for more adult situations. One of those times will come Friday, when the acclaimed pianist performs at Proctors in Schenectady. “Ethan Bortnick Live in Concert” will begin at 7:30 p.m.

People call Bortnick a child prodigy, and the South Florida musician already boasts a list of cool accomplishments. Here are a bunch:

* His concerts for charity have raised $40 million for non-profit organizations around the world.

* His television resume has included multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America and Oprah.

* Bortnick’s 2014 “The Power of Music” concert has aired over 1,500 times on public broadcast television stations.

* He shares a musical director — Dave Rosenthal — with Billy Joel.

* Bortnick is currently the youngest voting member of The Recording Academy, also known as The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammys).

* At age 9, Bortnick — along with artists such as Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, the Black Eyed Peas and Tony Bennett, participated in the “We Are the World — For Haiti” recording in 2010.

Bortnick has been hitting the keys since age 3, when he asked his parents if he could take piano lessons. The kid had the gift — hearing a song just once, he could play it back note for note. He began listening to a diverse group of musicians, like Beethoven, Mozart, jazz man Bill Evans, Little Richard, Billy Joel and Elton John.

Bortnick especially likes performances that help groups and people. That drive started at age 5, when Nathan underwent three heart surgeries. Ethan was inspired to use his musical skills to help others.

“For me, doing this and being able to travel is all great, and making music, I love it all,” he said in a telephone interview.

“But for me, the most important thing is to help other people. That’s exactly what I hope to do for the rest of my life. I hope I can do as much as I can for other people and also inspire other people to use their passion or whatever they enjoy, not just music. If it’s dance or cooking or sports or art or whatever, I think it’s important to use that and give back to others.”

Bortnick has Friday’s show all planned. There will be a variety of music and the pianist will play some of his own compositions.

“We’re going to have a lot of audience participation,” he said. “We’ll bring people up on stage and have the audience dance and do a bunch of fun things. I also believe we have a local children’s choir joining us for a song, which will be really nice. I always like working with people locally, and it will be fun to work with kids my own age.”

There are never nerves on stage. But Bortnick does watch his hands on the football field. “I’m very careful when I play,” he said. “I’m definitely not the person running to try to get the ball. I’ll be the person trying to keep my fingers safe.”

The other kids don’t seem to mind. They also don’t seem to mind they’re in class with a musical superstar.

“When I go to school and I’m home, I just like to be a regular kid,” Bortnick said. “Thankfully, the kids have kind of treated me normally, they’re used to this at this point because I’ve been with them for a while. The only time they ever treat me a little bit nicer is when they want to get an autograph from someone and I’m meeting them in a week.

But everyone has just treated me like a normal person, and I like that.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

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