Paul Portelli commenced piano lessons at a very young age with his late uncle Rev. Michael D’amato. Later on, he studied harmony and counterpoint with the late Fr. Albert Borg O.S.A. and subsequently he studied orchestration with Mro. Ronnie Debattista until he got 3 diplomas, A.L.C.M. in piano practice, A. Mus. L.C.M., and L. Mus. L.C.M in music theory. During this particular time, his love for music had become more widespread and he became more aware of the versatility of music. At a later stage in life, he studied Jazz improvisation with Mro. Paul Abela at the Johann Strauss School of Music.
In 2002, after the death of his uncle, the founder and director of the Żurrieq parish choir, he was asked to take over and direct the ‘Cantate Domino Choir A.D. 1956’. This induced him into taking a 3 year course in Sacred Music at the University of Malta, which particularly focuses on Gregorian chant and polyphony. When he finished University, he started studying contemporary orchestration and composition with the late Profs. Charles Camilleri. During this stage he could understand better the complexity of works written by today’s contemporary composers.
In November 2003, he was invited by the leader of the ‘Schola Cantorum Jubilate’, to accompany the choir during the festival, ‘Rencontres Musicales de Mediterranee’ , which was held in Corsica. This was the beginning of a long lasting friendship and collaboration, where this choir exposed his works in most of its performances. In 2010, he obtained the fellowship Diploma in composition from Thames Valley University.
Definitely, his most memorable achievements was when one of his pieces ‘Kyrie Eleison’ was chosen to be performed by the Malta Philarmonic Orchestra in a concert for young composers, in February 2011. And when he won a special jury price in a composition competition held by the APS Bank for his Orchestral Suite in June 2012.
Currently he works as a peripatetic music teacher with the education department.
Compositions "The Waiting..." and " Eight Bagatelles based on Beethoven's Themes" won the 1st and the 2nd prize at the Malta Piano Academy International Composition Competition in March 2023.