Randy Klein is the Performer of the Month at Sunday Night Improv!
See Randy Klein at Sunday Night Improv, Stand-Up Labs, Sunday, August 17 & 24, 236 West 78 Street at 7:00 pm!
Read the interview:
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Jersey City, New Jersey
WHEN? A long time ago.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? Fort Lee, NJ
HOW’D YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED IN IMPROV? I have always been an improvising pianist. I’ve played in jazz ensembles and free improvising music situations most of my life. I was also the pianist at the Comic Strip from 1979-1982. It was there that I learned how to button a joke and honed my timing skills. Timing is everything! The stand-ups were always improvising skits and asking me to make up background music to their imaginative worlds that they created. Playing improv as a jazz player to playing improv for comics wasn’t that much of a stretch. Mostly, it was a matter of listening and focusing intently on the moment and not stepping on the joke. My ability to understand what “funny is” also helped.
For My People, a new musical work based on the poetry of Margaret Walker and composed by Randy Klein at Bethel Presbyterian Church, Plainfield, NJ featuring the composer at the piano, Aurelia Williams as the vocal soloist and The Cranford High School Concert Choir under the direction of Anthony Rafaniello - November 24, 2013.
"If anyone has a chance to attend a performance with anything written or performed by Randy Klein, or to have another chance to marvel at an Aurelia William’s tour de force of any kind, I don’t think we should dream of missing it!" - Homes and Estates reviews the performance of For My People at The Cranford High School, NJ
Seven Notes Are All You Get
It was a beautiful sunny day in Central Park. There was a small spinet piano overlooking the lake facing west with the inviting message written on it, ‘Play Me’. The wind was gusting and I could feel the music building inside of me. Then, I sat down to play, and to my surprised, only seven notes worked. Seven notes are all you get. No! Not just seven notes! Up for the challenge, I could only think of one thing to do. ‘Improvise!’ Enjoy the seven note concerto with wind ensemble!
Recorded on Sing For Hope Pianos. Piano painted by Maxine Nienow in Times Square- June 2013
Ok, so I was playing to a sell-out crowd in Times Square. I was into it! I tried to leave space in my playing for the sounds of this most famous hubbub of humanity to be part of the improvisation. Then I faintly heard the approaching sirens coming from uptown. I felt myself willing them closer and closer so that I could interact with the blare of the sound. Finally, the ambulance with the sirens was right in front of me, singing the high note of a solo. There I was playing accompaniment for NYC EMS. What a rush! Times Square is a crazy place, you never know what you will see. The cowboy in his underwear with his guitar was more than I could ask for in this video. You just can’t make this stuff up. I have to admit, that this is one of my favorite playing experiences, playing with the Times Square din. Enjoy!
FOR MY PEOPLE To Be Performed At The Cranford High School, NJ
The Cranford High School Concert Choir will present For My People, a new musical work based on the poetry of Margaret Walker and composed by Randy Klein, on Friday, October 18, 2013 at 8pm. The performance will feature the composer at the piano and Broadway performer, Aurelia Williams as the vocal soloist.
Photo: Composer Randy Klein, at piano, works with the Cranford High School Concert Choir in preparation for their performance of his work, For My People on October 18, 2013. Photo credit: Dawn Nicholas
Using the poetry of the great American poet, novelist and essayist Margaret Walker, For My People encompasses a variety of musical genres, including classical, contemporary, gospel, and musical theater. The songs and poetry deal with the African-American experience in the American South during the Twentieth Century. New York composer Randy Klein has given these poems a new voice through his musical settings.
“My attraction to the poetry of Margaret Walker was the result of a New York City subway trip from Brooklyn to Manhattan in February of 2000,” explained composer Randy Klein. “Printed on a placard from the “Poetry in Motion” series was a poem by Margaret Walker titled, ‘Lineage.’ It began, ‘My grandmothers were strong.’
As the subway train rumbled on, I was lost in the words of Ms. Walker’s heartfelt poetry. A few weeks later I again became aware of the placard with ‘Lineage’ on it. This time, I scribbled down the poem on a piece of paper, and when I got home, I went to my piano and composed music for it. This was the beginning of the larger work, ‘For My People’.”
For My People was premiered with choral arrangements by James Ballard in April, 2011 at James Madison University. Members of the Cranford High School Concert Choir were present at the West-Coast premiere in March of 2013 at San Diego State University as part of their Southern California tour last year.
Photo: Cranford High School Concert Choir rehearses in preparation for their performance of For My People with (from right to left) Anthony Rafaniello, Cranford High School Choral Director, James Ballard, Choral arranger, Randy Klein, composer and pianist, and Aurelia Williams, vocalist. Photo credit: Dawn Nicholas
“The students were excited to learn that Randy Klein is a New York-based composer and that soloist Aurelia Williams grew up in Plainfield. It was a near-hometown connection and we were 3,000 miles from home,” said Anthony Rafaniello, Cranford High School Choral Director. A connection between Rafaniello and Klein was made thanks to the recommendation of San Diego State Choral Director, Dr. Patrick Walders. Arrangements to perform the work at Cranford High School began over the summer.
“We’re very excited to bring For My People, Randy Klein, and Aurelia Williams to Cranford and it’s an amazing opportunity for our students to learn from two working professionals in the field,” said Rafaniello. Besides music students, some language arts classes will study Margaret Walker’s poetry and writing. Klein and Williams will discuss their process in composing and interpreting the poem in a seminar during school on the 18th and then present the concert with the choir that evening.
The concert is made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Cranford High School Friends of Performing Arts. The concert will begin at 8pm on Friday, October 18th in Cranford High School auditorium (201 West End Place, Cranford NJ). Admission is free and open to the public.
For more information about the project go to Electronic Press Kit: For My People - A New Musical Work by Composer Randy Klein based on the Poems of Margaret Walker
Recorded on Sing For Hope Pianos. Piano painted by Laura Ricciardi at the South Street Seaport - June 2013
Every piano has its own sonic personality. Some sing like angels! Others honk like geese! But, even if a piano is a honker, a pianist can find some quality in that instrument that has musical beauty. My improvisations in this series were played on pianos that were left outside during one of the rainiest periods of a New York summer. Even though they were covered, the elements wore them away. Notes didn’t work or would stick, pedals clicked and rattled, and the tuning of each instrument varied greatly. My goal was to play to the elements surrounding me and at the same time find some life quality within these instruments to make music from. I found myself having a great time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed playing!
It was a quiet day at the South Ferry Seaport. This white grand piano beckoned to me. I started to play and noticed the tuning. Out! I noticed the pedal. Broken! I realized that the lid was bolted down so no sound could emanate forth. Yet, the piano had some life left in it. I finally began to play rhythmically, and the soul of this piano began to emerge. Enjoy the improvisation!
Photos: Ever Happily After, A Musical Fairytale at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) 2013. Book / Director / Producer - Jill Jaysen, Lyrics - Matthew Hardy, Music - Randy Klein, Costume & Projection Design - Michael Schloegel, Lighting Design - Sean Beach, Production Manager - Travis Bell, Musical Director - Garrit Guadan. Photo credit: Lena Adasheva
Hearing our songs being performed by the cast of “Ever Happily After” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) 2013 was a thrill! It is always great to hear it the way you imagined. Congrats to all!
Ever Happily After in BroadwayWorld.com
EVER HAPPILY AFTER Set for NYMF at Alice Griffen Jewel Box Theatre
"Ever Happily After," an original musical fairytale written by award-winning playwright, Jill Jaysen with music by Emmy award-winning composer, Randy Klein and lyrics by Matthew Hardy, will be featured in the upcoming New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) on Sunday, July 21st at 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. at The Alice Griffen Jewel Box Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue. All tickets are $25.00 for reservations and information call (212) 352-3101 or visit www.nymf.org.
This whimsical musical, featuring Cinderella and her “happily ever after” fairytale friends, is infused with humorous references to life in the 21st century. The story shines a bright light on the fact that all that glitters is not necessarily gold and magic can be found in the most unexpected places.