Chris Hardin's professional life began in the late 60's when he was 13 years old, that is, if you define "professional" as receiving money for a service. His actual musical career began much earlier than that. Born in 1956 to parents who were both musicians in the Seattle Symphony, Chris's musical abilities soon became very obvious. He was playing the piano at the age of 3, oboe at 7, clarinet at 8, flute at 9 as well as writing his first composition for the piano, and had taught himself how to play the rest of the woodwinds by the age of 12. Then, in Junior High School, he continued on to all of the brass and percussion instruments as well as becoming a lead guitar player in a rock n roll band. This is also when Chris was introduced to the wonderful world of Big Bands and Jazz Choirs. Although he continued his classical training on the oboe and piano, it was the harmonic textures of jazz and the driving rhythm of rock that really spoke to Chris. From here, and through the next three years of high school, Chris taught himself how to play all of the string instruments as well as arranging many pieces for his high school's Jazz Choir and Stage Band. In 1974, he was one of two high school seniors chosen from the state of Washington to play his oboe with the Seattle Symphony.
During his college years, Chris' education took a back seat to performing and writing. In the following eight years, he played the piano with such jazz greats as Art Pepper, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Watrous, Don Lamphere and John Pugh, played the bass for Bob Hope and was a percussionist for the Oregon Symphony in Portland. He played in a country band for a few years, toured the west coast of North America with various rock and roll bands, and continued to write for jazz choirs and big bands.
He then took on the role of Music Director for Princess Cruises on board the Sun Princess cruise ship that was based in the Caribbean. During these two years, Chris took this opportunity to finely hone his skills as a conductor and music director. Every six to eight weeks, a new headline act would come aboard and he would have a one hour rehearsal to learn their music and run the rehearsal for the Show Band for that evening's performance. There were also the six other nightly shows that he conducted each week along with managing the performance and scheduling of two other bands.
Chris left the ship life in 1986 to move to Los Angeles in pursuit of writing for film and television. It only took a few months for his abilities as a pianist and accompanist to be recognized and he immediately began steady work playing for Cabaret shows. This eventually led to leading bands for a variety of events in the LA area. Some of the "notables" he played/conducted for were Danny Gans, Michelle Lee, Merv Griffin, Sally Kellerman, Freda Payne, President Bill Clinton, and many more. Even though he was, and still is, one of the busiest and most successful pianists in LA, he still pursued his passion for writing. There are literally hundreds of band arrangements, symphonic orchestrations and choir charts floating around the US and Europe with Chris' name on it. He has scored and recorded four films, several commercials and was involved with the TV show "Evening Shade" with Burt Reynolds, as well as appearing with Mel Brooks on "Mad About You" and with Susan Sarandon in the film "Anywhere But Here". The score for his last film "On Growing Older" was awarded "Best Original Score" at a Los Angeles Film Festival.
The last thirty years have kept Chris very busy with writing music for the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, orchestrating and arranging the music for the CD "A Joyful Light" which features Michael Isaacson and the Holiday Pops; arranging and recording the instrumental tracks for "A Promise of Time" which features Roslyn Kind; arranging, conducting and performing the music for Craig Taubman's sold out production of "Hallelu" at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City (Los Angeles); orchestrating and performing the music for Tovah Feldshuh's symphonic debut; and the list goes on.
At the urging of choir and band directors of high schools and colleges, Chris began to focus his efforts on writing and arranging music for this genre. His extensive knowledge of the jazz idiom and current rock styles, combined with his classical training, enables Chris to create a fresh approach to harmony and rhythm. His arrangements are fun, challenging and a favorite of both the performers and audiences. His vocal jazz music has been compared to the sounds of Singers Unlimited, the harmonies of George Shearing and the hard 'in the pocket' swing of Count Basie. As for the more 'legit' side, one can definitely hear the influence of Stephen Sondheim, David Shire and Maurice Ravel in his writing.
Currently, Chris resides just outside of Portland, Oregon. He is the Music Director for Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino. He teaches jazz piano (to serious students only) and has an extensive list of singers that he coaches for material and style.