harry the piano
7.30pm Saturday, 9 March 2013
Since starting to play at the age of four Harry has set about proving that he can do 'absolutely anything on piano'. Quite simply, he does things with the instrument that you've never heard before, moving seamlessly between jazz, cabaret and classical in a manner that hasn't been seen in the UK since the heyday of Dudley Moore.
Very few artists can command respect in such differing fields, but Harry has such an extraodinary talent that as well as running a 20 piece dance band by the age of nineteen and appearing with a who's who of British jazz musicians culminating with a night at Ronnie Scott's last year, he has also accompanied just about everybody in the business from Englebert Humperdinck and Charlotte Church to David Bowie and James Belushi via Elvis Costello and opera star Sir Willard White as well as being musical director for top of the bill acts at the Moulin Rouge in his early twenties and subsequently going on to direct performers as diverse as Alexander Armstrong, Phill Jupitus, Rick Astley, The Opera Babes, Fay Presto and literally scores of others.
He has also appeared on BBC Radio 3 taking requests from a live audience to play any tune in the style of the composer of their choice to rapturous acclaim and prompted Brian Kay, the astonished presenter, to comment 'How does he do it?' After a recent sellout concert celebrating the best of British pianistic talent where Harry was asked to perform, the international star concert pianist Martin Roscoe noted 'You practise all your life and you think you can play the piano and then you hear Harry'.
Harry's career began in earnest as resident pianist in Soho's Groucho club where he was quickly spotted and given his own show on BBC Radio 2, he moved on to become the resident pianist on Channel 4's Big Breakfast for 5 years and to run the nine-piece band on Johnny Vaughan Tonight on BBC1 for three series. He put together his one-man show along with the release of an album 'In the Wrong Key' in the mid nineties and was lauded by the British Press as 'The New Victor Borge' and by Jonathan Ross as 'The best damn pianist in the civilised world'.
Another album ‘All The Way Through’ followed - the show went on to be seen in all six continents, and was recently chosen to headline on the Maiden voyage of the Queen Mary 2 alongside Dame Shirley Bassey and has sold out venues everywhere from London’s famous Pizza on the Park (five times) and the 2000 seater Portsmouth Guildhall to the Holders theatre Barbados, the Hong Kong fringe club, the Adelaide Festival as well as countless venues all over Europe. Another recent highlight was stealing the show in front of a packed Albert Hall when in a charity Gala evening with Julian Lloyd Webber, G4, Amici and the RPO, host Aled Jones asked him to play ‘In an English Country Garden’ in the style of Wagner interspersed with some Kylie! The result was a standing ovation.
More recently Harry presented Raymond Gubbay's musical review of the year selling out Birmingham Symphony Hall twice, and his gift for improvisation has become a regular feature on BBC Radios 2, 3, 4 & 6 having become the BBC radio go-to guy for any special event that requires something musically different. His bespoke performances have been heard variously launching the 2010 BBC Proms season with presenter Petroc Trelawny and channel controller Roger Wright, in the 'Genius of Mozart' season with Suzy Klein taking live requests from the listening public to play Mozartian themes in the style of any suggested composer, and then on a two hour 'In Tune' with Barry Humphries taking live requests once again for tunes in the styles requested.
After a further Christmas appearance on In Tune presenter Sean Rafferty remarked 'Who needs Radio 3? With Harry and a piano we've got everything!' Perhaps his favourite Radio 3 appearance came as a tribute to the London Olympics playing sports themes in styles of listeners choices and speculating on the opening ceremony! Most recently after a couple of years on BBC TV Children in Need in East Anglia, this year Harry was featured in a live concert from the Hackney Empire with the BBC Concert Orchestra as part of the appeal.
© 2013 Steyning Music Society