Portara Ensemble has quickly become a creative force in the music scene of Middle Tennessee. Their innovative programing and artist collaborations have crossed the boundaries of visual and performing arts, and brought exciting new music to their audiences. Led by Artistic Director Jason Shelton, Portara Ensemble’s thought-provoking thematic choral programs explore a wide variety of music from around the globe sung by professional, semi-professional, and amateur volunteer singers.
In 2011, Portara gave the Tennessee premiere of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Little Match Girl Passion, as a part of the Indeterminacies Concert Series at Zeitgeist Art Gallery. The “emotional, almost operatic, reading “ (NuVoid) received critical acclaim. Later that same season, the group joined the Grammy-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble to perform John Tavener’s Come and Do Your Will for women’s choir and string quartet, and was praised for their “luminous” performance (ArtNowNashville). Portara Ensemble appeared in the 6th Annual Bachanalia Festival, for which it received this rave review from ArtNowNashville:
“My favorite performance of the evening probably came from the Portara Ensemble in its more serious guise. The group, under the expert direction of Shreyas Patel, gave a luminous account of the famous Cantata No. 61 “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.” The group sang with a beautifully blended sound and with unfailing sensitivity to the text. They followed with an equally glorious reading of “Jesu, bleibet meine Freude” (better known in the English-speaking world as “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring”), which featured a vocal sound that truly shimmered and shined.”
2012 brought the release of Portara’s first CD Recording, Choral Hymns of the Christian Faith. This collection, which delves into the deep tradition of hymn singing in the Christian church, has been lauded “something to celebrate—and to keep close by.” (ClassicsToday.com).
In 2014 Portara joined forces with the Grammy nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and the Nashville Ballet to commission and premiere Amorisms, a new work written by the Pulitzer prizewinning composer Paul Moravec. John Pitcher of ArtsNash said of the performance, “Portara Ensemble, under the expert direction of Shreyas Patel, sang every syllable with nuance, sensitivity and a beautifully blended sound.” In January 2016, Delos Records released the World Premiere recording of Alias and Portara’s performance of Amorisms to critical acclaim.
Since its inception in 2010, Portara Ensemble’s mission has been to bring new and important choral works to the audiences of Middle Tennessee while integrating additional forms of performing and visual art into each concert series. Just as Portara is the gateway to the island of Naxos, Portara Ensemble is the Gateway to the Arts of Middle Tennessee.