Q&A With Composer And Musician, Edward W. Hardy

Edward Hardy Jr.Photo Credit: Hublot/Omar Vega

A man of many talents within the music world, Edward W. Hardy is an award-winning 28-year-old composer, music director, virtuoso violinist and violist living in Manhattan. A master in his craft, he possesses a natural skill in every aspect of his career, bringing musical compositions to life with his own signature flair. However, Hardy is also constantly pushing himself to evolve and challenge himself in new areas of his career, whether it’s taking on new genres of music or new projects, he does so with determination and an extremely charming and amenable attitude that has made him a natural star in whatever role he’s in. Haute Living got to experience his talent on two separate occasions, and each time Hardy showed up confident, collected and ready to bring a stellar show to each crowd he was performing for, captivating the audience with his mesmerizing compositions. Here, we sit down with the musician to discuss how he got started, each of the roles he plays, career highlights, what comes next and so more.

HL: During Hublot’s event honoring hockey legend Alexander Ovechkin, you performed a selection of hip-hop songs on your violin to entertain the crowd. Is hip-hop the primary genre of music you play?

EH: Performing at that event was an unforgettable experience and I loved seeing everyone who attended the event, even the chefs in the kitchen of Nobu that were enjoying and dancing to the music. Hip-hop is a genre I don’t typically perform outside of my quartet but it’s fun and exciting being a solo hip-hop violinist. I grew up studying classical music, later studied Latin, Jazz and Blues. I guess I’m continuing to add different genres to my palette.

HL: When did your passion for music begin?

EH: Around 21 years ago is when my passion for music began. My parents exposed me to a wide range of music from Rock & Roll to Motown, but somehow at the age of seven, I gravitated towards classical music. I remember my elementary school forcing me to drop all my favorite extracurricular activities like being in the chess club, mathematics club, acting and dancing to only choose one art form, so I chose music. At my public school in Harlem, the only music class that was available was to study the violin and after I heard a group of students performing in their class, I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now at 28 years, old I still love every minute of the journey and still can’t believe the places music has taken me.

HL: What is that unique-looking violin you play on and where did you find it?

EH: I perform and own as of last year the most beautiful acoustic violin I’ve ever seen; The Black Violin. This violin was made by Guy Rabut in New York City and has fame of its own. It’s been featured in Strad Magazine, Strings Magazine, The Journal of the Violin Society of America’s 25th Annual National Convention and in “Objects for Use: Handmade by Design.” In high school, I didn’t have a violin of my own and needed one, especially for college, so my parents began researching violin makers in NYC and stumbled across information on Guy Rabut. We visited his shop, tried a few violins and a viola and he showed me the Black Violin. At the time, it was too expensive, but years later I borrowed the violin, recorded a lot of music and performed on it everywhere I could. I decided I must raise money for this violin and I am blessed to have raised enough money to have purchased the Black Violin.

ED_HARDY-9278[1]Photo Credit: Dario Acosta

HL: You boast many titles—producer, composer, playwright, music director, violinist and violist. How does each of these roles speak to you in a different way? And did one lead into another?

EH: Yes, all these titles still feel slightly overwhelming at times, but they all weirdly led from one to the other. I first started as a child violinist who got accepted into Juilliard MAP after three years of studying and shortly after had my debut Carnegie Hall concert with my colleagues and famous musicians from around the world. In high school, I found a passion for playing the viola and later decided to pursue a degree in viola performance at SUNY Purchase conservatory of music. While at Purchase College, I couldn’t stop playing violin every chance I could and started performing in acting plays, as an actor who plays the violin, and loved being in costume. In my junior year, I started composing music to several acting conservatory theatrical productions which led to my first Off-Broadway show called “The Woodsman.” I was honored to be the composer, music director and onstage solo violinist of this play—all of which happened before I became a senior. “The Woodsman” continued for a few more years and I worked on a few other plays but I realized I wanted to show my voice as a writer instead of just scoring music, so I began writing plays. My latest play is called “Dream Chaser,” and it is a dark comedy that is loosely based on the past two years of my life involving a lonely, broke subway musician, a retired comedian who discovers him, an unpredictable dating app and a love interest. Lastly, producing sort of happened organically after raising money for solo projects, collaborations with colleagues and being a recording artist.

HL: Describe your musical style in three words.

EH: Thinking about what critics and fans have said about my work over the years, I believe the consensus is “Haunting, hypnotic melodies.” I love composing dark violin-based music, but within those dark pieces, I always find myself composing long romantic passages that become my favorite parts of the pieces. A great example is from my album “The Woodsman Original Off-Broadway Solo Recording,” or my “Three Pieces inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. ”

HL: What have been some of your career highlights?

EH: One of the highlights of my career was being a part of the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I was asked to compose and perform original work for the Congressional Black Caucus at Howard Theatre, so I performed my original composition “Evolution: The Evolution of Black Music.” The piece is inspired by the hymn “Wade in the Water” because of the history of secret codes embedded in the song that gave guidance to slaves as they embarked on their journey to freedom using the Underground Railroad. Last year this piece was digitally released along with its sheet music during an art exhibition in Harlem, NY.

Another highlight was performing for Nas at his Watches of Switzerland and Haute Living event last year. Although I felt prepared as I arranged the backing tracks for my performance, I was extremely nervous. I honestly couldn’t figure out why because I have over 21 years of experience performing around the country, but this performance felt different. Maybe it was the legend himself or maybe it was extremely important to me, but I haven’t experienced a performance like that in a while. It’s funny that friends and family members of mine were telling me about how much they love Nas, the impact he had on their lives and how cool it was that I’d be performing for him. An old teacher of mine used to tell me, “if you’re nervous, then that means the performance is very important to you.” It’s quite possible that’s what it was, or it’s that I was star-struck, or I kept thinking about my family. I ended up having a great time performing and felt silly I was nervous to begin with.

Edward W. Hardy - Press ShotPhoto Credit: Nicole Ann Lucero

HL: Who are your musical inspirations?

EH: Itzhak Perlman has been an inspiration ever since I was a child. Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of my theatrical inspirations and Freddie Mercury is also up there as someone I’m infatuated by.

HL: How do you stay regimented in your craft?

EH: I stay regimented in my craft by surrounding myself around different forms of art. Recently, I traveled to Paris with my fiancée to experience the beautiful and prestigious art collections on display at Le Musée du Louvre and Musée National Picasso. Paintings and sculptures always seem to keep me grounded and remind me how art is supposed to be created—not for fame, but for the stories they tell.

HL: When you’re not practicing your music, or creating new content, what are some of your other passions? 

EH: I’m starting to have more of a passion for cooking and baking than I ever used to. My father is a chef and has taught me a few things here and there throughout my life but I’m taking it a little more seriously nowadays. I also find myself being a sort of champagne and red wine connoisseur…I blame Trader Joe’s wine shop for that.

HL: What do you have coming up in 2020?

EH: I’m planning on releasing an album and having some solo shows/concerts throughout this year. One of the shows I’m very excited about is “Valentine’s Day in July.” It will take place on July 30, 2020, at The Public Theater’s: Joe’s Pub and consist of a range of romantic pieces in different genres of music such as classical, Latin, rock & roll and Broadway. I’ll be performing with a pianist, small band and hopefully one of my Broadway actress friends. It will be an extraordinarily romantic evening.

For more information on Edward W. Hardy, please visit his site here: www.edwardwhardy.com.