Hardin resigns from Music in the Mountains
Citing a too-busy schedule, Ken Hardin will leave Aug. 1 as choral director of Nevada County’s premier music organization, Music in the Mountains, Hardin announced Thursday.
“The main issue is needing to relieve my seriously impacted schedule,” Hardin said. “Besides teaching at Sierra College and being the artistic director/conductor for Twin Cities Concert Association, I also teach privately and play freelance all over the place.
“From a practical standpoint, I have to let something go, and MIM affords me the least assurance of future employment and the smallest pay of the three main jobs,” Hardin said.
A noted jazz pianist, Hardin has performed with the Reno Philharmonic, Chico State New Music Symposium, Nevada County Composers Cooperative and other West Coast presenters. He also works with Foothill Theatre Company directing their musical productions, most recently “The Gift of the Magi.” For years, he played piano and harpsichord for MIM’s Festival Orchestra.
“I have greatly enjoyed almost every aspect of my tenure at MIM,” Hardin said. “I have had the opportunity to undertake significant challenges artistically, fostered some incredible musical collaborations, and I come away with many strong and meaningful friendships.”
The regard appears mutual.
“It is with great regret that Music in the Mountains accepts Ken Hardin’s resignation as choral director,” said MIM Executive Director Marge Rath in a statement. “Ken has been a guiding light at MIM for the past 20 years. His many choral and piano performances have delighted audiences over the years. There are a lot of long faces in the chorus since Ken’s announcement. We are sad to see Ken leave MIM, but delighted that we can still hear Ken perform at TCCA concerts.”
MIM leaders will consider how to replace Hardin after the Summer Fest, now underway through July 3, said a MIM official who asked not to be named.
Hardin reminisced about particularly meaningful experiences, including his collaboration with MIM founder Paul Perry, who together have performed as a piano four-hands team for nearly 20 years.
“We’re not giving this up,” Hardin said.
Hardin also recalled “the opportunity to work whatever magic I might have with the wonderful Festival Choral as their conductor for the last 4 or 5 years.
“I will miss my work with, and the good folks of, the MIM Choral greatly and wish them all the best in all their future musical endeavors,” Hardin said. “I love this community and its tremendous support of the arts and artists, and I look forward to many more great experiences in Nevada County.”
To contact Prospector Editor Pam Jung, e-mail pamj@the union.com or call 477-4232.
Ken Hardin, pianist/conductor/artistic director, was born in Whittier and began piano lessons at the age of four. His mother, Lois Hardin, had her three boys singing in local boys’ youth choirs and taking music lessons: Ken (youngest) played piano, violin, trumpet, accordion and sang; Don (middle) played piano, French horn, sang, and went on to play professionally; and Dave (eldest) played piano and sang. Hardin received a full scholarship to Whittier College, yet prior to finishing his degree, chose to focus on playing music professionally in the L.A. metropolitan area.
While living in the LA area, Hardin performed mainly jazz and Broadway. His popular 1970?s jazz group Big North nearly signed a record contract but broke up prior to finalizing. Hardin decided to continue his education and received his degree in Voice from CSU Northridge along with extensive training in choral and instrumental conducting.
While both attending and iteaching at CSUN, he coached many successful new and many established singers such as Kurt Hansen (TCCA concert, May 2002, currently in Mamma Mia on Broadway), Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme’s son Michael Lawrence, actress Lee Remick, and pop sensation Leif Erickson. He directed, composed, and accompanied for musicals and played for audtions throughout Los Angeles.
Hardin studied conducting under composer, conductor, pianist and arranger Jay Blackton, best known for his work as music director and conductor for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He also studied conducting (and piano stylings) in Los Angeles with the noted composer and arranger Johnny Green. He was sought out as pianist for honor choirs by choral conductors such as Paul Salumonovich and Roger Wagner. He continued on the faculty at CSU Northridge until moving to Nevada County in 1984 to raise his children.
Upon moving to Nevada County, Hardin chose to hibernate from the arts community while building his own home (he is also a skilled carpenter and enjoys masonry). In 1987, he introduced himself to Paul Perry of Music in the Mountains, thus beginning his musical career locally. Hardin has become established in the performing arts in this area and is sought out as a pianist, conductor, coach and teacher. For example, this past year he has performed for MIM, TCCA, Reno Philharmonic, Auburn Symphony, Chico New Music Symposium, Nevada County Composers Coalition, The Movement Alliance, Bear River and Nevada Union High School Choirs.
He has his own studio of voice and piano students. Hardin currently serves as Artistic Director for TCCA, Conductor for Orchestre Panache (TCCA), Choral Director/Conductor for MIM, Choral Conductor for Sierra College Choir Nevada County Campus, faculty at Sierra College (choir, voice, music appreciation), freelance pianist, Musical Director for Foothill Theatre Company (“Gift of the Mag”i opened on Nov. 16, 2006). He adjudicates for and serves on many ad hoc and board committees for different groups.
Hardin’s music know-how spans the genres of jazz, Broadway, classical and rock & roll with a strong and diverse experience and education in conducting, performing and coaching. Hardin can fill in wherever needed musically and is often called on to do so.
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