An evening exploring the career of the composer and Academy Award Winner, to include performances with two local young pianists who have had the opportunity to work alongside Rachel.
Born in West Sussex, Rachel began composing at the age of 14 and read music at the University of Oxford, where she became interested in writing music for student films and theatre productions. She gained experience writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh’s, Four Days In July and Jim Henson’s Storyteller series.
Since then, Portman has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre, including The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme), Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski), Beloved (Jonathan Demme), Benny and Joon (Jeremiah Chechik), Life Is Sweet (Mike Leigh), Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek), Grey Gardens (Michael Sucsy), The Legend of Bagger Vance (Robert Redford), The Duchess (Saul Dibb), One Day (Lone Scherfig), The Lake House (Alejandro Agresti), Mona Lisa Smile (Mike Newell), The Human Stain (Robert Benton), Their Finest (Lone Sherfig), A Dog’s Purpose (Lasse Halstrom) and most recently Mimi and the Mountain Dragon for the BBC.
Rachel became the first female composer to win an Academy Award, which she received for the score of Emma (Douglas McGrath). She was also the first female composer to win a Primetime Emmy Award, which she received for the film, Bessie (Dee Rees). She has received two further Academy Nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat (Lasse Hallström), which also earned her a Golden Globe Nomination as well as Bafta nominations for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and The Woman in Black.
Rachel has written an opera of Saint Exupery’s, The Little Prince for Houston Grand Opera as well as a musical of Little House on the Prairie. For the BBC Proms concerts, Rachel was commissioned to write The Water Diviner, a dramatic choral symphony and Earth Song, a commission for the BBC singers of a 20 minute choral piece. Rachel wrote an orchestral piece entitled Endangered performed at the World Environment Day Concert, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. Rachel was Radio 3’s composer of the week in 2018.
Rachel is an honorary fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. She lives in London with her three daughters.