The idea for Portland Piano International was conceived and launched by pianist Harold Gray, who started a recital series at Portland State University devoted to the piano that quickly grew from four, to five, to six recitals each season. Across the country other recital series were closing their doors, but before long the PSU Piano Recital Series was regularly selling out with audiences clamoring for more.
By 1995, Saturday night recitals had been added to the sold-out Sunday recitals. In 1999, an annual Summer Festival was added to present even more recitals, along with a diverse array of master classes, lectures and films. In 2005, Portland Piano International was formed as an independent non-profit organization, to carry on the fine tradition established by the PSU Piano Recital Series but separate from Portland State University.
After 34 years, Harold Gray retired at the end of the 2012-13 Recital Season. Arnaldo Cohen replaced him as Artistic Director of Portland Piano International beginning with the 2013-14 Recital Season.
In its lifetime this Series has presented over 150 artists in recital and through outreach activities. Some of the greatest artists in the world of music have played for Portland audiences because of this organization. While pianists have many opportunities to play the concerto repertoire, this is one of only a handful of recital series that remains devoted to the solo piano recital. Portland Piano International is a vital part of Portland’s quality cultural life and it has consistently garnered praise from both the local and national media, heralded a “consistently brilliant Piano Recital Series” (Willamette Week) and “one of this city’s musical treasures” (The Oregonian).