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Cover Stories

Ethan Bortnick

"Pianist, Composer, Philanthropist"

By Cat Wagman

Ethan Bortnick
Ethan Bortnick


Ethan Bortnick has recently been given the honor of being included among the musicians featured in Esquire’s 80th anniversary issue, “The Life of Man” featuring the pictures of actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and presidents ranging in age from 80 to 1.


From afar, Ethan appears to be another South Florida 12-year old who enjoys playing with his brother and cousin, whether it’s drawing, swimming, playing soccer, football or video games, or listening to music. However, Ethan is not your typical kid, especially when he sits down at the piano. From an early age, he knew what he wanted to do, and fortunately his parents recognized his aspiring talents when he began playing music, so naturally and by ear, after listening to his Baby Einstein DVDs and the radio. He started taking formal piano lessons at four, and he hasn’t stopped performing since.


While Ethan’s idea of a perfect day is spending time doing things with his family, his desire to help others is constant. His parents support him in all that he does, and together, opportunities to entertain have taken Ethan to places where many only dream of going. One thing people notice right away about Ethan is his down-to-earth attitude. While his musical repertoire has delighted audiences through his appearances on national shows, including Oprah, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Good Morning America; and on stages around the world, he is first and foremost a natural teacher and storyteller. Those that hear him speak and play, experience a sense of wonder and amazement of the hope, laughter, and joy that flows through him. He takes what he can do through his music quite seriously; and, as a result, his reputation as being one of the youngest philanthropists in the world is raising the bar for those who When asked how he chooses which charities to support, Ethan said, “My Dad helps me decide, and if I’m available, then I’m glad to play. It’s very important to do it.”


An example is his recently completed an 18-city tour, sponsored by RE/MAX LLC, to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. To date, through his appearances at benefits and charity galas, Ethan has helped raise more than 30 million dollars for non–profits around the world. Ethan’s imagination, natural curiosity, and ‘just try it’ attitude continues to open doors. On a trip to Las Vegas, he asked his Dad, Gene, “Why aren’t there any shows for just kids?” That simple question led to a surprising invitation to become the youngest headline performer ever to appear at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater (July 22 and 23), on the same stage were Elvis Presley entertained. “Ethan’s incredible talent is truly amazing at such a young age. As the youngest entertainer to headline in Las Vegas, we couldn’t be more proud to have him here,” said Ken Ciancimino, Executive Vice President of the Las Vegas Hilton. When asked what other advice would he give to kids, Ethan smiled and said, “Anything is possible. You have to try it to find out. If it doesn’t work, there are other things you can do that you are really good at doing.” Also, in recognition of what he has accomplished as a pianist, composer, and philanthropist, it was a wonderful surprise, that as part of her ‘Farewell Season,’ Ethan was named one of “Oprah’s All Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids.”


Ultimately, after speaking with Ethan, I found him to be an inspiration. To be who you are. To love who you are and what you do. Be the best YOU, for there is no one else like you. Just as Ethan is Ethan.

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