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Rainer Hersch

Rainer Hersch

Musician and Comedian
Country: UK

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.

ACME

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.

CLASSIC RELIEF

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.

TV APPEARANCES

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.

LIVE SHOWS

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’.

    All Classical Music Explained

    • All Classical Music Explained (ACME) is a  stand-up comedy show with a difference.
    • Rainer Hersch – is a a multi-talented comedian and musician who is equally at home closing the show at the famous Comedy Store in London or conducting the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • With All Classical Music explained he turns his comic skills on those awkward questions: “Why is organ music so boring?”; “How can I play a musical instrument without practising?”; “What do conductors actually do?”.
    • From playing the recorder to Grand Opera – it’s all here plus piano playing like you have never heard.
    • ACME has been turned into two series for the BBC.
    • Excerpts from the show are also available on CD.
    • This is a comedy show with an edge for audiences of all ages and is intended for anyone who enjoys music of whatever kind.

    LENGTH:

    Variable. Anything from 20 minutes to 90 minutes plus interval.

     

    Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge

    • Victor Borge was a brilliant pianist, virtuoso comedian and, at one point, the highest paid entertainer in the world.
    • In Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge the Great Dane’s hilarious act has been lovingly re-imagined for the 21st century by his natural successor, Rainer Hersch.
    • On stage, Rainer plays the role of both Borge and himself as he tells the stories of both men with charm and wit.
    • This intriguing production was a total sellout at the Assembly Rooms in the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival under the title Borge Again! In a full two-act version, he is also joined by a pianist for an hilarious duet rendition of the Liszt 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody.

    LENGTH:

    In one act: Total playing time 75 “. In two acts: Total playing time 1’35” (first half 50″, second half 45″).

     

    Rainer Hersch with Orchestra

    • The concept is a performance which integrates stand-up comedy and witty musical arrangements into a polished classical concert.
    • This is an easily marketable item in your season which allows an orchestra to show that they are not only excellent musicians but that they’ve also got a sense of humour.
    • It also attracts a big audience – including families and first-time concert goers; expands the orchestra’s repertoire and draws a great deal of press attention: “A classical concert conducted by a stand-up comedian – now that is new” The Ealing Times.
    • Rainer now has three programmes in his repertoire, contact us for more details.

    LENGTH:

    (2 hours approx – shorter if required). All the music for the arrangements is provided by Rainer.

     

    THE RAINER HERSCH PHILHARMONIC

    • Rainer’s own orchestra, ‘The Rainer Hersch Philharmonic’, continues to appear with great success at concert venues around the world inluding The Edinburgh Festival, the South Bank, London, Grahamstown Festival (South Africa) and on tour across Europe.
    • His reduced, 8-piece orchestra is enormously popular as a funny, classy act at corporate functiongs where a highlight of the evening is the famous conducting competition in which members of the audience have the chance to risk their professional reputation in front of the orchestra themselves.
    • For more information about how to book the RHP for your event, consult the corporate page.

    LENGTH (RAINER HERSCH PHILHARMONIC):

    Variable.  Anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours including interval.

     

    Organtastic!

    • An hour show about the organ for children aged 8 and above asks the question ‘To smash or not to smash?’
    • Rainer takes the role as spokesperson for The Organisation for Organ Havoc (O.O.H), not to be confused with their arch rivals the Association for Artistic Harmony (A.A.H).  O.O.H.’s declared aim is to ‘smash up all the organs of the world and use the bits for something else’ as made clear by their motto ‘Si in Nuto Smash is Sursum’ or ‘If in doubt, Smash it up’.
    • “O.O.H. believe that smashing up the organ will make a lot of space and save money’.  Says Rainer: ‘the pipes alone have got enough metal in them to make 418 cars, 8682 scooters or 48,263,820 metal bits off pencils’
    • Does anyone care enough to save the organ? Certainly the organ’s residents, organ mice, hope so.  But if there is one thing O.O.H. hate more than organs its little furry animals.
    • Organtastic was commissioned by Bridgewater Hall in Manchester as part of their Organ Outreach Programme and is performed with organist Daniel Moult

    LENGTH:

    1 hour

     

    Mozart: Ze Komplete Hystery

    • (Previously called ‘Mozart’s Back’). After 250 years, a hilarious Wolfgang Amadeus is back from the dead.
    • Yes, the genius of Salzburg returns with the truth about his life and death and to ask ‘what happened to all the royalties?’
    • In this brand new incarnation Mozart is joined on stage by a couple of his most ardent admirers – two sopranos who charm Mozart and the audience with songs of celebration and commiseration as our hero takes on the worlds experts who have analysed everything from his handwriting to how many times he used the word ‘bottom’.
    • This is a show with a guaranteed laugh every four bars:  Mozart the piano virtuoso; Mozart the stand-up comedian; Mozart the Blind Date contestant – its all here and more.

    LENGTH:

    65 minutes

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