5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Sixteen year old Ethan Bortnick has moved audiences nationally and internationally as a pianist, composer, singer, entertainer, and a driven humanitarian, dedicated to combining his musical pursuits with his charity work. The Hollywood, Florida native begged his parents for piano lessons and discovered an uncanny ability to hear a song once and play it back note for note – the musical equivalent of a photographic memory.
SD: When did you start playing the piano?
EB: I started playing when I was 3 years old. While attending a Montessori school, I saw lots of kids were taking lessons and I wanted to do the same thing. Originally, my parents said no, but thankfully they gave in.
SD: What was it about the piano that made you stick with it?
EB: After I figured out I could mimic music on the piano, I was stuck. It was the fact that I could recreated any note that I heard. Once I realized I could do this, I really loved it.
SD: When did realize that you wanted to perform for a living?
EB: I did a few performance when I was about 4 or 5 years old, but it wasn’t until I was 6 years old that I knew I wanted to do this as a living. I was performing at a hospital fundraiser that was performing an operation on my brother Nathan. After seeing how much the performance affected people, I was truly amazed, so I started doing more fundraisers for them. At one of the fundraisers we had Beyoncé, Smokey Robinson, and Gloria Gaynor all performing and that night we raised over 12 million dollars. It was amazing to see how my talent was being used to help others.
SD: Do you feel like you have a good balance of musician / childhood?
EB: Luckily, I have an amazing family. No matter how much we are traveling or performing, they make sure that I have a normal life. I play video games and go to a regular school and hang out with friends. I really live a normal life.
SD: What can people expect to hear at your upcoming concert?
EB: I am really excited to be performing in Boston! This will be my first time in the city. My show is going to be pretty similar to what has aired on WGBH. It is really a family show. I love that music bonds families together. Be prepared, because I do a lot of audience participant.