When entertainment legend Neil Sedaka happened to be seated next to pianist and Lynbrook resident Jeffrey Biegel at a show featuring a then-new jazz singer, Renee Olstead, some four or five years ago, the two got to talking. They realized that they both attended Julliard School of dance, drama and music, and that they both had their roots firmed planted in classical music. And the rest, as they say, is musical history.
Sedaka, 74, a singer, songwriter, composer, pianist and author, has been in the business for half a century, and is best known as a pop icon and superstar, spewing out hit after hit in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with chart toppers such as “The Diary,” “Oh, Carol,”“Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” Sedaka wrote hits for other artists, but often multi-tracking his own voice on his own recordings, adding harmony. His most recent release, “The Real Neil,” is a CD of brand-new Sedaka acoustic material, including a few Sedaka classics — and with a very special addition — the official release of his classical composition “Manhattan Intermezzo.”
Sedaka said that he’s been getting “wonderful emails and letters” from around the world from fans who were surprised and delighted with the addition of the classic piece on his CD.
“I said to Jeffrey, if I ever wrote a concerto for piano, he would perform it,” said Sedaka in a phone interview with Stepping Out. “And Jeff has a wonderful interpretation of the piece.”
Sedaka said that “Manhattan Intermezzo” is a tribute to New York that captures the sounds and spirit of the city. “You can hear the different ethnic influences in the piece,” he said. “This [classic composition] is serious music,” Sedaka continued, “but it’s not abstract … I am a melodist — it’s a crowd pleaser. Music is there to make people feel good.”