July 9, 1968 |
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Spouse(s)||Kim Campbell (m. 1997)|
Hershey Felder (born July 9, 1968) is a Canadian pianist, actor, playwright, composer, producer, and director. He created (as playwright, actor, and pianist) the role of American composer George Gershwin for the theatrical stage in the stage play George Gershwin Alone. Combining the craft of acting and concert-level piano performance, George Gershwin Alone was followed by the creation of the role of Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish composer/pianist, the roles of Ludwig van Beethoven and Gerhard von Breuning in Beethoven, As I Knew Him, Leonard Bernstein in Maestro Bernstein, Franz Liszt in Musik, and Irving Berlin in Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin. These works comprise "The Composer Sonata."
To date, Felder has appeared before the paying public with his Sonata as well as in theatre roles and concerts for more than 4700 performances. Felder has acknowledged that he will continue his theatrical one-man format with stories reaching further than just the art of classical music, and will also include his own compositions.
As director, Felder premiered award-winning concert pianist Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane. The acclaimed one-woman show is Felder's adaptation of The Children of Willesden Lane, written by Golabek and Lee Cohen.
Of Felder’s compositions, Noah’s Ark, an Opera has been performed with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. His Aliyah Concerto on Israeli Themes for piano and orchestra has been performed in Canada and in the United States. The Suite Les Anges de Paris for violin and piano, Etudes Thématiques, as well as Song Settings (the poetry of Vachel Lindsay) have been performed on and recorded by the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago. In September 2010, An American Story was recorded with the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, composed of members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, and conducted by Alan Heatherington.
Currently, Felder is the President of Eighty-Eight Entertainment, a music-based production company, producing new performance works worldwide. He is married to Kim Campbell, the former Prime Minister of Canada.
National and International Appearances: Regional and international appearances of Composers Sonata (1999–2014) include Old Globe Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Geffen Playhouse, Laguna Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Ford's Theatre, Cleveland Play House, American Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Ravinia Festival, Chicago's Royal George Theatre, Prince Music Theatre (Philadelphia), Birch North Park Theatre (San Diego), The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Uijeongbu Theatre Festival (South Korea) and many others.
Upcoming International Appearances: Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven As I Knew Him, and Irving Berlin.
Compositions: include Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings, poetry by Vachel Lindsay; Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; An American Story for Actor & Orchestra.
Recordings: include Love Songs of the Yiddish Theatre, Back from Broadway, and George Gershwin Alone and Monsieur Chopin for the WFMT Radio Network Recordings label; Beethoven As I Knew Him and An American Story for the Eighty Eight Entertainment label. Worldwide live broadcasts, George Gershwin Alone, July 2005 and May 2011. National broadcast of Monsieur Chopin, November 2005.
Current Projects: include the new musical, Abe Lincoln's Piano, as well as a recording of current compositions. The Pianist of Willesden Lane  will continue its U.S. tour.
In its world premiere engagement, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin broke box office records for both Felder's production company and for the presenting theatre, the Geffen Playhouse.
History as producer and director, commercial
Noah’s Ark, an Opera (Los Angeles, June 1997)
Sing, A Musical Journey (Los Angeles, 1998)
George Gershwin Alone (Los Angeles World Premiere; International, 2000–present)
Back From Broadway (Los Angeles, Florida, New York, Boston, 2002–2003)
Romantique (Boston, 2003)
Monsieur Chopin (Chicago World Premiere, 2005–present)
Beethoven, As I Knew Him (San Diego World Premiere, 2008–present)
An American Story for Actor & Orchestra (Los Angeles World Premiere; 2009–present)
Maestro Bernstein (Los Angeles World Premiere; 2010–present)
In July 2014, Felder portrayed Leonard Bernstein on the stage of New York City's Town Hall. This appearance was particularly significant in that Bernstein's compositional debut took place at the same venue in 1943.
The Pianist of Willesden Lane (Los Angeles World Premiere; 2012–present)
Franz Liszt in Musik (Laguna Beach World Premiere, 2013–present)
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin (Los Angeles World Premiere, November 2014-present)
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Felder was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on July 9, 1968 to Jacob Felder (born in Ustrzyki, Poland, 1929) and Eva Surek Felder (born in Budapest, Hungary, 1946). A first-generation North-American, much of Felder’s upbringing included Eastern European traditions, in particular traditions associated with the Jewish faith into which he was born. Early schooling included Hebrew Academy Day School of Montreal as well as synagogue affiliations with Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec.
In 1976, Felder’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died six years later, at the age of 35, leaving Hershey and his younger sister, Tammy (b. 1973), to be raised by their father alone. In 1989, while pursuing a career in theater and music, Felder met an actress at the Yiddish Theatre of the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts in Montreal. They were married in 1991 and the couple divorced in 1993.
In 1994, Felder made his way to Los Angeles where he spent a brief time working for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation interviewing Holocaust survivors in order to catalog their oral histories on film. The following year, he was invited to take part as one of four interviewers to attend the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz in Poland, which led to his creation of George Gershwin Alone. Upon returning to the United States, Felder was invited to present a concert performance at the Canadian Consular Residence in Los Angeles, in honor of Kim Campbell, Canada’s only female Prime Minister. Reports of this meeting reference a “love at first sight” encounter and, one year later, in September 1997, Felder and Campbell entered into an official common law marriage, recognized by Canadian Law.
After Campbell's departure from Canadian politics and governmental duties, Campbell and Felder moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Campbell was a Professor of Practice at Harvard University's Kennedy School for Government, and Felder was invited to open a production of George Gershwin Alone at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard. This production went on to be the highest-grossing production of any booked in production in the theatre's history. In 2004, Felder and Campbell moved to Chicago where Felder opened a production of George Gershwin Alone as well as presenting the world premiere of Monsieur Chopin. At this time, Campbell was named a Vice President and the Secretary General of the Club of Madrid, an organization of over 70 former heads of state and government who promote democratic transition. Felder and Campbell currently split their time between North America and Europe while they both continue to be before the public internationally.
- Piano studies with Dorothy Morton, Eugene Plawutsky, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, (1981–1988)
- Piano Studies with Jerome Lowenthal, NYC (1988–2001)
- Opera studies, conducting, accompanying, composition, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1985–1988)
- Hebrew Academy Day School, primary and secondary education, (1971–1985)
Felder and Joel Zwick are recognized as full-time collaborators with Zwick directing stage work for all of Felder’s artistic projects.
Felder is a former Scholar in Residence at Harvard University’s School Of Music (2002–2004) and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where he created and sponsored a classical music competition entitled "The Real Thing."
Jeffrey Kallberg, a Professor of Music and Chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Music, acts as musical history advisor on all of Felder’s projects.