Performing at the "Garage" in NYC with The New York Jazz Nonet - (Elliot Zigmund, John Ekhart, and Bob Porcelli) featuring my music and me singing vocal standards on December 26, 2006. 
                        David Heckendorn



Musician  Composer, arranger, conductor, producer, pianist,  vocalist - I have produced 10 jazz CDs and 5 classical CDs to date. I perform, with my various ensembles, in concert, in film, in clubs, in schools, and for private parties. 

Music Educator  For thirty years, 9 years at Jamaica HS in Queens, NY and  21 years at the Wheatley School in Old Westbury, Long Island,  I had taught instrumental music, theory, composition, and jazz. I conducted well over 25 school musical theatre pieces on the secondary or college level (Marist College Instructor 1979 - 1982) and have composed three stage musicals for my students in addition to incidental music for 4 High School dramatic theatre productions. At present, I am a participant in Nassau Boces as artist in residence in a number of schools including East Meadow HS and Baldwin HS on Long Island, NY.

Film In 1995 I combined my 2 vocations and served as the arranger, production music coordinator, and special advisor to Richard Dreyfuss in the motion picture "Mr. Holland's Opus". For the film "Inventing The Abbotts" I received several credits for arranging, singing and conducting. Other film involvements include "Assassins" and "Shining Through".

Mr. Holland's Opus

In 1995, I was the production music coordinator and special advisor to Richard Dreyfuss for his Academy award nominated role as a music teacher in the Interscope motion picture Mr. Holland's Opus.

        Jean Kelly as Rowena and David Heckendorn as the
      piano player in a scene from Mr. Holland's Opus

David Heckendorn, Elizabeth Heckendorn (daughter and Ballet dancer in the movie), and Terrence Howard at the premiere of Mr. Holland's Opus.

Elizabeth Heckendorn and Alicia Witt at the premiere

   Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Heckendorn and David Heckendorn during the Premiere weekend on the movie set of another Richard Dreyfuss film.

Unbroken Circle


     Pictured here are myself and life-long friend Michael Kamen. As a result of the film's success and impact on music education, Michael Kamen (film composer) spearheaded, with the help of Richard Dreyfuss and the film's director Stephen Herek, the non-profit organization, Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation of which I was a founding board member. It is the organization's goal to help schools and needy talented music students throughout the country by providing necessary instruments and encouraging communities to fund music programs.

     Michael had this to say about our long-time friendship and association: "David has been a great teacher ever since we were two seven-year-old boys walking, talking on our way to school. He introduced me to jazz and the saxophone. David and I shared a thirst for new sounds and old sounds. He and I share a total absorption in music, and dreams of composing and playing. Years pass steadily, and our dreams do come true! When I was asked to compose music for Mr. Holland's Opus, in which Richard Dreyfuss needed to play both a composer and a teacher, I became his composer and David Heckendorn became his teacher. May the circle be unbroken."        Michael Kamen     
Mr. Heckendorn's Opus

On June 21, 1996 The East Williston Teacher's Scholarship Foundation produced "Mr. Heckendorn's Opus". This program featured my conducting the premiere performance of six neoclassical 
compositions for a 45 piece Orchestra.
 David Heckendorn communing with nature 
at Forest Park in Queens, NY.  
Reviews and Quotes

"David's ability to "speak" in many different musical languages makes him a valued member of the musical community. There isn't anything musical, personal, or professional that I would hesitate to recommend him for. He is a great musician. His greatness is not measured just by his technique and professionalism, but by his inspirational personality." Michael Kamen (composer)

"Dear David: You were not only patient, you were down right amiable. You are not only talented, you were indispensable. There was no performance without you." Richard Dreyfuss (Academy Award nominated actor for "Mr. Holland's Opus")

"The music of David Heckendorn has a wonderful balance; it is technically challenging, yet it is also melodically satisfying. It is modern and innovative yet remains reverent to tradition." Gerry Niewood (World renowned Saxophonist and jazz soloist)


Since 1974 I have written for, performed and recorded with various sized ensembles. The large book of music that I have composed for my Jazz Orchestra,
Tentet and Septet have produced 10 CDs. In addition to producing original music, I arrange songs from the American Standards songbook and perform these with my groups as a singer and pianist.

I have performed at NYC clubs such as Birdland, Eric's, and The Garage. I have concertized at several museums and festivals in the NYC metropolitan area and the Hudson Valley of New York State including The Falcon and the Newburgh Summer Jazz Series of 2010.

A long established member of the New York Jazz Scene in the company of Lew Soloff, Gerry Niewood, Bob Devos, Barry Rogers, Bob Porcelli, Jerry Sokolov, John Tendy, John Allred, Mike Hall, Danny Gotlieb, Jerry Weldon, Candido, Bob Kaye, Steve Fitzko, Bill Kinslow, Neal Haiduck, Steve Johns and numerous other brilliant jazz musicians who have all played and/or recorded with my groups over the years.

                 THE CLASSICAL WORLD

   In the summer of 1996 I was composer in residence in Bratislava, Slovakia with an American Chamber Orchestra under the auspices of Conservatory Abroad. The Artistic Director of the program - Maestro James Brooks Bruzzese and Cathy Rand - the pianist who gave the European debut of my "Metamorphosis" for Piano and String Orchestra had this to say:
      "It is obvious that David Heckendorn will be one of the most highly recognized composers as we move into the 21st century. His versatility with all mediums of composition places him at the leading edge of his contemporaries." James Brooks-Bruzzese, Conductor and Artistic Director of Symphony of the Americas, Florida
      "The music of David Heckendorn embodies a musical individuality that enraptures both listener and performer.
We are captivated and delighted by the 
vocal, sultry,
improvisatory contour of his melodies, the versatile and imaginative harmonic writing, and amused and at times haunted by his distinctive rhythmic playfulness, elegance, and profundity.
" Cathy Rand, Pianist and Educator on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory
For more information concerning:

performances by any of the David Heckendorn  jazz and classical ensembles,

original pieces for jazz and classical ensembles of varying sizes appropriate for High School and University students of music,

new commissions and composer residencies,

send me an email at:

For the purchase of CDs, go to pages marked "News", "Jazz Scene" and "Classical World".