|Born||July 9, 1968|
|Occupation||Musician, actor, pianist|
Hershey Felder (born July 9, 1968) is a 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 play George Gershwin Alone, which was followed by the creation of the roles of Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish composer-pianist; Ludwig van Beethoven and Gerhard von Breuning in Beethoven; Leonard Bernstein in Maestro Bernstein; Franz Liszt in Musik; Irving Berlin in Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin; and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Our Great Tchaikovsky. "The Composer Sonata" comprises these works.
Felder also directed concert pianist Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane, Felder's adaptation of The Children of Willesden Lane, written by Golabek and Lee Cohen.
Felder's 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 the United States and Canada. 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.
Felder is the president of Eighty-Eight Entertainment, a music-based production company, producing new performance works worldwide. Since 1997, he has been married to former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell.
National and international appearances
Regional and international appearances of Composers Sonata (1999–2017) 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), San Diego Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatreworks (Mountain View CA), The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, and Uijeongbu Theatre Festival (South Korea).
He also appeared on the 21 February 2019 episode of Jeopardy!, narrating questions about composers while performing their music.
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; and 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; and broadcast of Monsieur Chopin, November 2005.
Projects in 2018 include the play-with-music, Our Great Tchaikovsky. 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. Similarly, the world premiere production of Our Great Tchaikovsky at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, surpassed the record set in 2014 by Felder’s adaptation of The Pianist of Willesden Lane. The box office record was broken prior to the first performance and the show became the highest grossing show in San Diego REP history.
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)
- 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)
- Our Great Tchaikovsky (San Diego world premiere; 2017–present)
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Felder was born 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.
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 (born 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 married in 1991 and divorced in 1993.
In 1994, Felder went 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. Reports of this meeting reference a “love at first sight” encounter and, one year later, in September 1997, Felder and Campbell became a couple.
After Campbell's departure from 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.
Felder and Joel Zwick are recognized as full-time collaborators with Zwick directing stage work for many 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."
He has presented master classes in Music and Theatre Arts at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, the Boston Conservatory, the Colburn School's Colburn Academy, and the Old Globe Theatre (San Diego).
Jeffrey Kallberg, a professor of Music and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Music, acts as musical history advisor on a number of Felder’s projects.
- Weiss, Hedy (October 23, 2014). "Performer/Playwright Hershey Felder's Specialty: Conjuring Composers". americantheatre.org. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Kim Campbell, online biography. Retrieved January 13, 2014
- "The Children of Willesden Lane Book in theaters". holdontoyourmusic.org. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Leonard Bernstein comes to life in New York, July 16, 2014, Retrieved December 13, 2016
- Yiddish Theatre
- "Untitled Document". gershwinalone.com. Retrieved December 13, 2016.