Dr. Brenda Portman

Adjunct Faculty, Organ, Music Department

First Year at Xavier



Brenda Portman is the Resident Organist at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, where she provides music for Sunday morning services, accompanies the Wesley Choir and Cathedral Choir, and serves as Executive Director of the church's renowned Organ Concert Series. She recently completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (2016) in organ performance at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, where she received a full scholarship as first prize winner of the Strader Organ Competition and served as a teaching assistant for the organ department. She also serves on the Executive Board of the Cincinnati chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Dr. Portman has received numerous awards in organ competitions, spanning a decade: from First Place in the Arthur Poister Organ Festival in Connecticut (2006) to Finalist and Audience Prize winner in the Sursa American Organ Competition at Ball State University (2016). In October 2014, she was the only American woman to compete in the prestigious Canadian International Organ Competition in Montreal. Her performance there led to a collaboration with acclaimed Canadian composer Rachel Laurin and a recording on the 88-rank Casavant organ at HPCUMC: andquot;Pilgrimages: Organ Music of Rachel Laurin Inspired by Sacred Themes,andquot; which was released in April 2016 on the Raven label. Other prizes include First Place in the Arthur Poister Organ Competition (2007), First Place in the Bank District British/American Organ Competition (2009) - performing a winner's recital at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and Third Place in the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition (2012). She has also been a finalist in the Fort Wayne National Organ-Playing Competition (2010) and a semifinalist in the AGO's National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (2010).

Generated from her doctoral research on minimalism and twentieth-century Dutch organ music, Dr. Portman's article "The Eclectic Landscape of Ride in a High-Speed Train," about the above-named composition by Ad Wammes was published in December 2015 in The Diapason. Another article, "Minimalism or Not? A Closer Look at Ad Wammes's Miroir," will be published at a later date by The American Organist.

In addition to andquot;Pilgrimages,andquot; Dr. Portman recorded a CD of organ works of Edwin T. Childs entitled "All Might and Majesty" (2009) on the Schantz organ at College Church in Wheaton, IL. She commissioned Dr. Childs to write a new multi-movement organ work (Pentecost Suite) which she premiered in June 2014 for the tenth anniversary of the Organ Concert Series at HPCUMC. Also a composer, Dr. Portman writes primarily sacred choral, vocal, and organ works. Her concert settings of hymns for solo voice and piano have been highly acclaimed by many professional singers (available at sheetmusicplus.com and sacredsheetmusic.com). Three hymn preludes for organ were included in the Bayoubanduuml;chlein, published by Selah, for the 2016 AGO convention in Houston, and a number of other organ pieces are in the process of being published. She also won an award in 2014 for writing the music to a hymn commissioned for the 300th anniversary of Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dr. Portman held previous positions as Organist at First Presbyterian Church in Flint, Michigan, and Director of Music Ministries at Trinity Lutheran Church and School and Jackson, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in music education from Wheaton College and a Master's Degree in church music and organ performance from Northwestern University. She has studied with John Behnke, Edward Zimmerman, Douglas Cleveland, Marilyn Mason, Roberta Gary, and Michael Unger.