Biography

Richard Shulman

Keyboardist and composer Richard Shulman composes music intended to be a positive influence for himself, audiences, and society.  To further this purpose he often works with archetypal themes.
Shulman's new CD, Camelot Reawakened: A Vision Fulfilled, musically portrays a rebirth of the Camelot ideals.  "The theme is the fulfillment of dreams of the heart for individuals and society," he explains.  "The most beautiful world imaginable can happen, and I hope this music will contribute to its manifestation."  Composed and orchestrated by Shulman over a five-year period, Camelot Reawakened is a contemporary-classical, nine-movement symphonic work featuring Shulman on acoustic piano with a 35-piece orchestra, a choir, and vocal and instrumental soloists.  The CD is available in stores nationwide and from RichHeart Music (888-699-3682 and www.richheartmusic.com).
According to Shulman, "For the past 16 years, album-by-album I have been attempting to create music which will help set the stage for a harmonious society envisioned by many spiritual traditions, forward thinkers and ordinary people."  This journey has resulted in 17 of his own albums as well as other recordings for which he has provided the music.  Trained in the classical field, Shulman first worked as a rock musician and then a jazz pianist before turning to music for healing and inspiration.  As a composer, however, his classical sensibility has permeated each genre he has worked in.
Shulman has performed at Carnegie Hall, Art Park, the United Nations, the Kool Jazz Festival, The Amenia Peace Festival and a wide variety of other venues throughout North America and Europe.  He has composed music for and performed on more than a dozen albums by others -- singers (Susan Slack, Elizabeth Hepburn, Connie Hanham, Shelley Koffler) as well as speakers in the field of guided meditations and visualizations (Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Puja Thomson, Jessie Ayani, Elizabeth Joyce, and Reiki master Pat Cyr).  During residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, he composed music for orchestra and jazz quartet; and for a decade he was the principal composer for "Theatre of the Heart," a cooperative of dancers, singers and musicians dedicated to preserving community and the environment.  Shulman's commissions include a piece for the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, and "May Peace Prevail on Earth" (a composition for singers, symphony orchestra, three choirs and jazz quartet) created for the World Peace Prayer Society.
Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, Richard often listened to symphonies on record and in concert as a youngster.  His family got him a piano and he began lessons at age seven which continued through high school, although he additionally studied violin for a year and clarinet for five years.  As a teenager Richard also played organ at various churches, was the music counselor at a summer camp in Canada, and joined a rock band with future jazz recording artists Thom Rotella and Bobby Previte.  Shulman graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major Bachelor's degree in music (piano performance) and psychology while continuing to perform with Previte in the jazz-fusion band Thermopylae.  Shulman's early musical influences were Beethoven, Bach and Chopin; then in high school it was The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix; and on into college it switched to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Paul Winter, Oscar Peterson and Ray Charles followed a few years later by Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, and Chick Corea.
While at Rochester, Shulman also attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music and studied jazz improvisation with Chuck Mangione and Marian McPartland, arranging with Raymond Wright, and orchestration with Donald Hunsberger.  Shulman continued his studies in jazz with Frank Foster while getting his Masters Degree in musical composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  During those years he played onstage in concert with such jazz stalwarts as Thad Jones, Eddie Gomez, Pepper Adams, Jerry Dodgion, Freddie Hubbard and Al Harewood, and recorded his first jazz album, Wonder.  After moving to New York City, Shulman played in the studio as a session musician with the great jazz rhythm section of Ron Carter and Grady Tate; performed with groups such as The Richard Reiter Swing Band, Providence and Crossing Point; and recorded and performed with the acts Mr. Spats (Steve Evans, June Bisantz, Steve Swallow and Bob Moses) and Bobby Previte.  The Richard Shulman Group, a jazz quartet, played regularly in the New York area and recorded the albums A Simple Gift and Open Spaces, and Richard also released the solo jazz piano album Solo Flight
Shulman began moving beyond the jazz scene in New York City when he recorded his first extemporaneous solo piano album, World Peace, on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (he performed at a peace meeting the same day).  This led Shulman into the world of new age music.  Richard was then asked by a healing practitioner to play for his clients which was the beginning of Shulman's practice of creating special "Musical Soul Portrait" recordings for individuals, couples and groups (he has done more than 600 so far).  Shulman also has released some of this type of music on the albums A Higher Dimension, Light Music, Music for Magnified Healing, First Rites and Sacred Music for Healing Hands Volumes 1 & 2
Shulman's first two album releases with national marketing were Light from Assisi and Transformation at Assisi, inspired by spiritual pilgrimages to the town of Assisi in Italy where St. Francis lived.  Richard also laid more groundwork for Camelot Reawakened with a pair of recordings -- Ascension Harmonics and the partially-orchestral Keeper of the Holy Grail -- with "spiritual attunements" by Samuel Welsh.  "Our research for Holy Grail led me to the larger picture of Camelot," says Shulman, who also took a trip to Glastonbury, England in 1995 to study the area.  "I feel that some of the energies of Camelot still reside in places like the Abbey there and the Michael Tor, the sacred hill which is pictured on the cover of Camelot Reawakened."
In 1996, Richard was preparing to do a "Musical Soul Portrait" for a woman who had recently returned from exploring the British Isles and tracing Arthur's journeys, although she hadn't told Shulman about that.  When he closed his eyes to begin, he had a vision of a sword coming down from heaven.  He told her what he had seen, and she said, "I have one word for you: Camelot."  The music Richard created that day was the beginning of Camelot Reawakened  Over the next few years, he received other melodies about Camelot while doing soul portraits, and during the recording of his First Rites and Music to Walk the Labyrinth albums.  "There were many threads that came slowly together to form the entire web.  Synchronicities happened throughout the project.  It was a spiritual adventure."  After several years of arranging the orchestration for each movement of the Camelot piece, it was unveiled to the world in concert in January 2002, with members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Hart Baker.  It was recorded that day in front of the audience with additional recording the following day behind closed doors.  The album contains liner notes about the project and an explanation of each movement which takes the listener from "The Dream" and "A Celebration" to "Prayer" and "The Dream Fulfilled."
"The possibilities for humanity have blossomed periodically through the ages, and when Camelot flourished, people dared to live a dream.  I believe now is the time to begin opening ourselves again to living in harmony with one another, and in harmony with the entire universe, by each of us recognizing our dream within and fulfilling that vision as our contribution to the whole."