Born in west Sussex, England, Rachel Portman began composing at age 14 and read music at Oxford University. She gained experience writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films including Mike Leigh's Four Days In July and Jim Henson's Storyteller series.
Portman has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre. She was the first female composer to win an Academy Award for her original score for Emma. She has received two further Academy nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat, the latter also earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
For the stage and concert hall she has written an opera based on Saint Exupery's The Little Prince (2003) for Houston Grand Opera and the climate change inspired The Water Diviner's Tale (2007), a dramatic choral symphony for the BBC Proms. She has regularly collaborated with acclaimed author Sir Michael Morpurgo together they wrote the Christmas carol We were there (2014) for the Royal Livepool Philharmonic Orchestra and Youth Chorus. Endangered (2012), is an orchestral work commissioned by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, for the the World Environment Day Concert in 2013. In 2019 Portman wrote Earth Song for the BBC Singers with text by poet Nick Drake and which also quotes Greta Thunberg. Portman scored the BBC1 animated Christmas special Mimi and the Mountain Dragon (2019) and in February 2020 recorded her first album as compser pianist for Node Records. Portman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010.
Critical AcclaimRachel's scores run deep, adding levels of unexpected texture, mood and emotion. (Broadcast Music Inc)
Portman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours and is an honorary fellow of Worcester College, Oxford and of The Royal College of Music in London. She was the subject of BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week in 2017.
- Nature Knows No Pause – Environmental Pieces for Orchestra, Choir and Education
- Globally rising temperatures, droughts and natural catastrophes. All the effects of climate change fade into the background due to the corona pandemic. But climate change and the environment know no pause. For this reason, we present 6 works in this feature that are musically dedicated to this topic.