NOTES: Hershey Felder’s “Our Great Tchaikovsky”
Last night at 59E59 Theatres, Hershey Felder presented the New York debut of his newest solo show, “Our Great Tchaikovsky”, in a one-night-only performance to benefit the Lyric Chamber Society of New York’s “Classicool” program.
Mr. Felder, an actor, singer, writer, and virtuoso pianist currently starring in his excellent, one-man docudrama about Irving Berlin through October 28th (read my review), continues his niche theatrical art form of engaging bio musicology by tackling the life and work of Russia’s most celebrated Romantic composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
Developed following an invitation from the Russian government in 2013, upon beginning his research into Tchaikovsky, Mr. Felder soon realized how central the composer’s homosexuality was to his life and, perhaps even, death. And so, amid the concerted spike in violence and oppression of LGBTQ people in Russia since 2013, “Our Great Tchaikovsky” has yet to play the composer’s homeland—and likely won’t any time soon.
Mr. Felder’s Tchaikovsky says: “music does not have a nationality, it is simply human.” And so, fortunately, the celebrated works of Tchaikovsky—who conducted the first concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1891—continue to enchant audiences worldwide, whether his ballets “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, and “The Nutcracker”, the stirring “1812 Overture”, or one of his other 80 opuses.
More so than with “Irving Berlin”, this show provides an opportunity for Mr. Felder to demonstrate his remarkable piano playing, all while acting a character and speaking to the audience. Entertaining and informative, I hope “Our Great Tchaikovsky” finds continued life on stages across the country and around the world.