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    Hershey Felder Stages a Piano Lesson by Chopin in New Solo Show

    Internationally-acclaimed performer and pianist Hershey Felder is a theatrical shapeshifter. At his tour de force solo shows, the talented performer morphs into beloved composers before your eyes—his knack for capturing their inner lives and mannerisms is second to none. Ever wanted to chat with Beethoven or rub shoulders with George Gershwin? Seeing Hershey Felder onstage is the closest you’ll get without a time machine.

    His personifications of musical greats like Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Irving Berlin have dazzled audiences in smash hit performances at some of the most prestigious theatres in the world, including on Broadway, in the West End, and more. But when the pandemic cancelled his packed schedule full of sold-out shows, he found a new performance venue: the internet.

    The innovative performer created the arts broadcasting company Hershey Felder Presents – Live From Florence, which has produced more than a dozen theatrical films to date. Filmed on location in Italy, Felder’s country of residence, and in picturesque places across Europe shadowing the footsteps of cherished figures, his series of world premiere works has found audiences tuning in around the world.

    “The pandemic offered me time in one place to work on my craft and develop new ways of telling stories for a broader audience—as has been done in the cinema form I work with—while still trying to maintain an intimate audience experience,” Felder told the San Francisco Bay Times.  

    After more than two years of virtual audiences, Felder is thrilled to perform in-person at TheatreWorks. Making its Bay Area Premiere, his newest show Hershey Felder: Chopin in Paris spotlights the life and music of Fryderyk Chopin. A darling in Parisian high society, Chopin was one of music’s earliest celebrities: his high-profile love life, including a romance with novelist George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), caused quite a stir.

    Chopin in Paris is different from Felder’s other shows as it is more immersive and interactive. Audience members play a role as students in a lesson led by the musical master, based on a real-life piano lesson that took place in Paris in March 1848, days after the February 1848 revolution. As Chopin made his living as a piano teacher for the wealthy and cultured elite, this format is a fitting way to tell Chopin’s story, illuminating the secrets of art and composition and the composer himself in this collaborative setting. 

    Known as the “poet of the piano,” the Polish composer’s keyboard compositions are unparalleled. “Chopin’s music is the non plus ultra of the piano repertoire,” said Felder. “It is evocative, ingeniously crafted, eternal, and beautiful. It is difficult to play, and more difficult to play well. It is an exciting challenge.”

    With compositions for the piano including two polonaises (known as “Military” and “Heroic”), several nocturnes, a grande valse brillante, several preludes, and several mazurkas, his lasting impact on the musical world can still be felt. 

    “He is considered the inventor of the romantic piano sound,” said Felder. “His unprecedented and exotic use of melody and harmony anticipates impressionism in music—a movement that would only come to fruition almost half a century after his death.”

    Felder revisits Chopin’s story after previously dazzling audiences with the critically-acclaimed Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin. “Art, especially live performance art, can never stagnate,” said Felder. “I am always looking for new and interesting ways to advance the storytelling. This version of Chopin is more interactive than the previous version and ventures more into the significant relationship between piano teacher and student, which is the premise of this production.”

    Felder is excited to share Chopin’s story on the TheatreWorks Silicon Valley stage where four of his hit shows have been presented, including the world premieres of Hershey Felder as Claude Debussy in A Paris Love Story and Hershey Felder: Beethoven. He also directed the Mona Golabek-led production of The Pianist of Willesden Lane, which performed at TheatreWorks in 2020. “I love TheatreWorks and the TheatreWorks audience,” said Felder. “It will be wonderful to see old friends again.” 

    Hershey Felder: Chopin in Paris closes TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s 51st season, performing August 19–September 11, 2022, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets and information can be found online ( ) or by calling 877-662-8978.

    Published on August 11, 2022