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Rainer Hersch is both a musician and a comedian, and has performed on every major stage in Britain and abroad. Starting his career in management of musical arts organizations he slowly found his true calling while moonlighting as a stand-up comedian on the side. He has since had success both with his live shows and TV appearances around the world.
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Rainer has a passion for comedy and classical music which started at an early age. While still a schoolboy in Kingston-upon-Thames he developed a keen interest in Monty Python. Using the school’s video machine he recorded their TV shows and would show them to his friends the following day at school.
He started off playing the clarinet at an early age but was drawn to the piano which he started studying properly from the age of 14. He developed an obsession with piano music and, ultimately, organized a school concert society single-handed – presenting performances by Barry Douglas, later a winner of the Tchaikovsky piano competition, amongst others.
ECONOMICS – NOT MUSIC
Rainer decided to study economics at university, with the experience of his school concert society and an ambition of a career as an impresario. During his spare time he continued to write and direct student revues as well as continue his piano studies – principally with Norma Fisher but also in masterclasses with Martino Tirimo and Gwenneth Pryor. He has since also studied conducting privately with various teachers and in masterclasses – most recently at the Royal Academy of Music with János Fürst and Blackheath Conservatory with Denise Ham.
A CAREER IN COMEDY
Rainer’s working life began in the management of musical arts organizations. However unknown to his employers, he soon began doing stand-up on the London cabaret circuit. The initial short, unpaid slots in small clubs led to longer, paid appearances, which eventually led to a parallel career. Rainer slowly realized this was his true calling and thus gave up his last job with a title in 1992 to enter the uncertain world of professional comedy.
Combining his skills as a stand-up with his music he produced ‘All Classical Music Explained’ (ACME) – a simple and stupid approach to the difficult subjects “How to play instruments without practicing”; “Why is organ music so boring?” and “What do conductors actually do?” The result proved an immediate hit with all kinds of audiences. In a 55 date tour across three continents, the show attracted rave reviews.
“Not since Victor Borge has a musician-comic raised the roof with such continuous laughter” (The Post, Eastern Cape, South Africa July 1996).
Having found his voice, the sequel to All Classical Music Explained: ‘ACME: The Masterclass’ built on the success and two years later Rainer developed the idea further using a seven piece orchestra ‘The Rainer Hersch Philharmonic’ which he conducts and uses to corrupt the classics in his own arrangements.
He has since used this experience to present full comedy programs with many orchestras around the world including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the St Petersburg Philharmonic – with whom he appeared in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonic, one of the great Soviet era concert halls.
Rainer has hosted and conducted two gala comedy concerts in support of Comic Relief – one at the Royal Festival Hall in London and one at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. His guests were some of the great names in classical music including Alfred Brendel, Nicola Benedetti, Piers Lane, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Paul Lewis, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The London concert was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and filmed by BBC Interactive.
On TV Rainer has made guest appearances on many programs including ‘Face The Music 2007’ (BBC4), ‘How Do They Do That?’ (ITV 1) and many more.
Rainer’s current solo shows are: ‘All Classical Music Explained’; ‘Organtastic!’; ‘Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge’’ and ‘Mozart: Ze Komplete Hystery’. He also has three programmes for full orchestra: ‘All Classical Music Explained’ (an orchestral version), ‘At Last! The 1977 New Year’s Day Concert’ and ‘The Last Night of the Proms…Ever’.
Variable. Anything from 20 minutes to 90 minutes plus interval.
In one act: Total playing time 75 “. In two acts: Total playing time 1’35” (first half 50″, second half 45″).
(2 hours approx – shorter if required). All the music for the arrangements is provided by Rainer.
LENGTH (RAINER HERSCH PHILHARMONIC):
Variable. Anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours including interval.
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