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The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Woodbine Productions presents Ethan Bortnick, 17-year-old musical phenom


To open the 11th concert series, Woodbine Productions welcomes 17-year-old pianist, vocalist, composer and well-rounded entertainer, Ethan Bortnick. Consistent with a focus of bringing “world famous and about to be” artists, the concert is 7:30 p.m. the Monday, Sept. 24 at the South Dakota State University Performing Arts Center.

Recognized by the Guinness World Records as “The World’s Youngest Solo Musician to Headline His Own Concert Tour,” Bortnick has been performing around the world, raising over $50 million for charities.

In April 2017, David Reynolds, director of the School of Performing Arts, assisted with producing Bortnick’s “Generations of Music” concert which was performed and recorded in Sioux Falls for Public Television and has aired nationally. Members of the SDSU music faculty were featured in the instrumental ensemble as well as students of the SDSU and BHS Concert Choirs

When Bortnick was just 3 years old, the Hollywood-Florida native asked his parents for piano lessons and they discovered his uncanny ability to hear a song once and play it back note for note – the musical equivalent of a photographic memory.

He soaked up the music of such diverse artists and composers as Beethoven, Mozart, jazz pianist Bill Evans, Little Richard, Billy Joel and Elton John and began creating original compositions at age 5. A few years later, he began making television appearances and touring, connecting with audiences in countries such as Japan, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Australia.

The concert on Monday will bring the “Generations of Music” concert live to the Larson Auditorium stage and features Bortnick, his band and more than 100 choir students.

Familiar tunes by Frank Sinatra, Elton John, and original pieces by Bortnick will satisfy music fans of all ages. “For young musicians, this concert is truly a rare opportunity to see a person of their own age succeeding in popular and commercial music performance at an exceptionally high level.

It’s easy to be amazed at Bortnick’s ability to easily transition from pops to classical to original compositions on piano with high energy vocals and also enjoy his confidence as an entertainer,” notes Dr. Reynolds. “This young man has been playing major venues, developed and hosted three PBS television specials, and it all started when he was just 5 years old. He is inspiring to all of us.”

BHS Choir Director Denise Perry explains, “The BHS Concert Choir is excited and grateful for the opportunity to partner with the SDSU Concert Choir on the upcoming Ethan Bortnick show. We had the distinct pleasure of working with Ethan and his family during filming for his PBS Special in April 2017, which was a unique, educational opportunity for our students. I think it is wonderful for them to have the chance to work with a professional musician who their own age, and who demonstrates such generosity.”

Bortnick has shared the stage with artists such as Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncé, Josh Groban and Reba McEntire, among many others. In 2010, he joined some of music’s biggest names – including Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana—as the youngest of the all-star lineup that recorded “We Are The World” by 25 For Haiti.

He has also been featured on countless national television shows, including multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America and Oprah, where he was named one of Oprah’s “All Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids”.

Tickets are available from the SDSU School of Performing Arts at 605-688-5188 and range from $20-$35. This season, student-priced “Rush Tickets” are $10 for any remaining seat 30 minutes prior to the 7:30 p.m. curtain.


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