Drummer and percussionist Mark Belair is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he studied in both the jazz and classical departments. In the course of his career, based in New York City, he has pursued both those musical tracks.
He has recorded with jazz greats Bill Evans (Living Time) and Joe Lovano (the Grammy Award-nominated
Rush Hour on 23rd Street) as well as performed and recorded with Gunther Schuller’s New England
Ragtime Ensemble (including the Grammy Award-winning Red Back Book of Rags) and Mr. Schuller’s
Mingus Epitaph band.
As a classical musician, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The many conductors he has worked with include such legends as Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and
Eugene Ormandy. He also performed as a guest artist with the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria.
His versatility has made him in demand for show work. He spent twelve years as the percussionist with
the hit Broadway show Les Miserables and, before that, four years as the drummer with the original
Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors.
Earlier shows include Treemonisha; the Lincoln Center production of The Threepenny Opera with Raul Julia; Happy End with Meryl Streep; the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of All’s Well That Ends Well; and
the National Company of Pippin, directed by Bob Fosse.
He has also performed with the Broadway productions of Newsies, Evita (revival), Billy Elliot, South Pacific (Lincoln Center revival), Curtains, A Chorus Line (revival), The Drowsy Chaperone, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Lennon, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Women, La Cage Aux Folles (revival), Assassins, The Boy From Oz, Little Shop of Horrors (revival), Cabaret (revival), The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Chess and Singin’ in the Rain.
His “crossover” abilities are reflected in the wide range of music he has performed: with Don Byron’s Klezmer band; The Paragon Ragtime Ensemble (including a month-long stay at the Expo in Seville, Spain); and the Radio City Christmas Show.
With the New England Ragtime Ensemble he has done extensive touring in the US, Europe and Russia.
He has performed with them at the White House, on PBS’s “Live at Wolf Trap” and on Garrison Keillor’s
Prairie Home Companion.
As a student, he attended the School of Orchestral Studies at Saratoga Springs, where he studied with
Charles Owen and Jerry Carlyss of the Philadelphia Orchestra. At the New England Conservatory of Music,
and for two summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, he studied with Vic Firth of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. At Tanglewood he received the C.D. Jackson Award.
The Berlin Jazz Festival, 1991
(For some mean tambourine watch the
guy in the background!)