Ethan Bortnick: Child prodigy, entertainer, mega-fundraiser


Ethan Bortnick was just 6 when he first appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” playing snippets of piano works by Bach, Mozart and Scott Joplin. He even performed his own composition, “The Tiger Ran Away at the Zoo.” By that age, he had already raised $12 million for Miami Children’s Hospital. Since then, he has performed for the Chabad Telethon and the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, among other charities.

Now 10 and having just embarked on his longest tour to date, the accomplished entertainer is, naturally, excited. The 20-city tour of “Ethan Bortnick and His Musical Time Machine” began Jan. 20 in Nashville, Tenn., and stops at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 5, before continuing on until March, when Ethan returns home to Hollywood, Fla.

Speaking by phone from Florida, Ethan recalled his debut on “Leno.”

“That was very long ago, like four years ago,” Ethan said, noting that he’s been on the show three times since, most recently in 2009. He’s also appeared on “Oprah.”

He said his interests are wide. “I love all kinds of music — classical, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, the Beatles. I love Jewish folk songs. I’m not working on one kind of music. I do everything at the same time.”

Even over the phone, Ethan’s irrepressible energy and impressive focus come through. He displayed a disarming candor about a potentially painful subject.

“My brother, Nathan, is 5 years old, but when he was born, we were told he was missing two out of the four chambers from his heart,” Ethan said. “He had half a heart. But at Miami Children’s Hospital, they saved his life. I really wanted to help the hospital, which I did. At the last event, we got Beyoncé, Smokey Robinson and Gloria Gaynor to come. It was amazing.”

Ethan explained how he and his management team arranged a Children’s Miracle Network fundraising event in Orlando, Fla., so they would be at Disney World for his brother’s birthday. “They’re an amazing team that raises money for children’s hospitals. I wrote [the song] ‘It’s a Miracle’ for them.”

Story continues after the jump.