‘Since I am listening to the touching performances of this amazing lady, I feel that I am a different person. Her music touched me and influenced me deeply. What she plays is a piece of my soul.’

 

The release of my debut, Reminiscent, close to three years ago had been a complete coincidence. I was on eLance looking for someone to create a sheet music transcript to my new composition, in hopes of submitting this transcript for a music composition competition. It had been my first new composition in years after having this strange longing to get back to my childhood and adolescent hobby of composing. I was feeling  optimistic about my new track, titled ‘Dionysius’ and wanted to put my best effort into letting it become heard. I received a response on eLance by a kind man under the name of Gary Farr, offering not only to transcribe sheet music, but also to get this composition on radio. He was the programmer of solo piano radio channels  Radiotunes.com and ClassicalRadio.com. This sounded too good to be true. My composition, on radio?

Not so fast. After I inquired more, Gary recommended that I first create an album. I would have much better success in getting noticed on his radio station if I had an album on the market. He suggested I come back to him when I had a marketable product, with other songs like ‘Dionysius’. Looking back, I don’t understand why I hesitated at first. It took me months to respond. I was busy at the time with my first corporate job out of college and fully focused on building up my career. I had no idea how to put together an album, and frankly creating a marketable product out of my music sounded like a far-fetched and crazy idea.

I responded a couple months later, asking for Gary’s advice. How in the world do people just release albums? Where do I start? I had recordings of several compositions from over the years. Many of these were recorded at the young ages of 11 through 16, when I was playing competitively in classical piano competitions. My peak point in my piano abilities was in fact during these young adolescent years. Leaving out the little detail that most pieces were composed during my early teen years, I mentioned to Gary that I had several tracks ready to go, if only I had some guidance on how to go about in doing it. He recommended that I send over my recordings, done on my own digital piano, which he could then edit and master. We could create this album as a team, with him as my producer and recording master. Now this was much more manageable.

In my excitement about this new initiative, I started composing more. I wanted to squeeze in some new music in this album, while he edited and mastered my old tracks. Determined to compose that perfect song for my new album, I requested a day off work and locked myself in my living room. From the morning to the evening, I composed ‘Reminiscing’, the track that became the leading composition on my debut. In composing this song, I was reminiscing about the old days on the piano. Growing up, I would dedicate hours upon hours on the piano playing and composing. The piano had been my refuge. It was refreshing to suddenly have this kind of drive again. With the prospect of having an album out on the market, I became more excited than ever about composing. That same week, I composed ‘Resilient’ in one night.

 

Surely enough, a few weeks later I had an album on the market. I felt fulfilled, as if I had added a small value to the world by releasing my original compositions. Whoever wanted to listen to mellow, expressive piano solos from a no-name artist now could. Every now and then, I would see comments on social media on my tracks and become ecstatic:

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‘Since I am listening to the touching performances of this amazing lady, I feel that I am a different person. Her music touched me and influenced me deeply. What she plays is a piece of my soul.’

‘That is so beautiful, it reminds me of my Grama Charlie whom we loss today...Thank you for this piece of beautiful music…’

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Such comments were more than I could have ever asked for. Maybe my music was not reaching the ears of many, but those ears that it did reach were touched. With this realization, I decided to put more effort into getting my music out there and heard. I submitted the album to Whisperings, America’s most popular new age solo piano radio station, and was thrilled to learn a few months later that seven of my tracks had been accepted for airplay. I also uploaded my music on Soundcloud, where a few songs were picked up on well-established playlists. As a result, my music has generated over 20,000 listens on just that platform!

With this momentum, I was eager to get more involved in the new age solo piano music scene. I attended Whisperings concerts and was inspired to see other musicians like Chad Lawson, Michele McLaughlin and Lisa Downing, whose music had a style similar to mine, do so well in their music careers. I considered them as true modern-day composers and longed to be in their shoes. I began to pay attention to and intently listen to compositions of other new age piano composers, and noticed quickly that I found my niche. I discovered that music with a style similar to mine had a dedicated place in the world, in the genre of new age solo piano music. At last, my music had found its home!

And yet, admittedly, when I began listening to albums of other solo piano composers I became insecure about my own album. Who was I to call myself a composer? I couldn’t claim to be one when all I had done was taken some childhood tracks and combined them together onto an amateur album. Sure, I had received accolades in classical music competitions growing up, but recognition in performing classical music was in no way a qualifier. I began to listen to the masterpieces composed by my new role model, John Bayless, and soon enough, I even became ashamed of my album. There was no longer the desire to share it; I preferred to call ‘Reminiscent’ my well-kept little secret.

Rather than marketing and performing music from ‘Reminiscent’, I wanted to discover what I was truly capable of. I was determined to fine-tune my skills in composing and to create that perfect work of art, something that I could be proud to share, rather than to insecurely hide as my little secret. I was resolved to this. One day at a time, one melody at a time, I wanted to work towards putting together a product that I would be proud to call mine. I didn’t want to market my debut ‘Reminiscent’ any longer and preferred remaining invisible as a musician, until I had that product that was more professional, less amateurish and all in all representative of who I as a composer could be.

I came to this resolution during a sabbatical from work, in which I was able to disconnect from my hectic job and reflect on things I truly found fulfillment in. I was taking a break from 60+ hour work weeks and regular travel for work, knowing that as soon as that sabbatical would be over, my free time would be extremely limited. And yet, I did not allow myself to think twice or make excuses. I booked a recording session several months in advance to allow myself enough time for preparation, managed to find a kind piano studio owner who allowed me to practice at his studio after-hours while I was traveling, and began my work on a product that would combine and consummate several years worth of improvisations and unfinished compositions.

I am proud to announce that ‘Songs of the Soul’ is that product. I’ve been working on it for years now - it’s my baby. The title is representative of what I truly feel about the album - this is the music of my soul, expressing profound feelings. It is inspired by several events I have experienced over the past years: from moving cross-country to California, then overseas to Germany shortly thereafter, leaving behind many relationships and bonds along the way, to sensing the desperation and fear of losing loved ones, to trekking the Himalayas and falling in love with Tibetan culture, to learning to dance tango and discovering a passion for this rich music genre, to marrying my soulmate, to longing for a stronger connection to my roots and my family in Greece, the piano is what I turned to every time. There is a large variety in the style and moods of the album, depending on what I was feeling at the time I sat on the piano. In my mind, there is no denying that each of these compositions are portrayals of deep and shared human emotions. I describe them in the following way, as songs of the soul:

              ‘I don’t think clearly when I compose – I find myself in a tranquil state of mind that moves me and simply makes me feel. The output is an outpour of emotions that are almost foreign to me. They’re hidden somewhere deep inside, as if something that’s muted has been set free. Simply stated, this music is the song of the soul.’ 

This album, unlike my debut, is deliberate, a dedicated effort from day one to compose professional and touching music that would impact my audience, in the way that it has impacted me during times of challenges, trials and transitions. The bottom line is that I earnestly believe that this music can profoundly impact other people as well, as I have seen the effect of my compositions on my audience. I believe in the power of music, and feel every time I play these compositions that something in me awakens and stirs. After playing the piano for a Hospice home on a weekly basis, I know for a fact that other people feel this way as well. I have seen terminally ill patients completely shaken by this somber, mellow piano music. I have seen full-grown men break down in tears. I believe that this emotional solo piano music is cathartic, and have a desire to share it and allow the world to come to the discovery of this.

As selfish as this may sound, after having dedicated tremendous energy into this album this time around, I wanted to go that last extra mile and release the album on my own, as an independent record. I have received the approval and support from Gary, my producer for Reminiscent, to do so. Despite my lack of experience in marketing or distributing music, I am making a genuine attempt at getting this product out there. It’s not going to be an easy journey, but it’s one that I am fully dedicated to pursuing. Call me a pianist, a composer, a producer or neither – this is my story. I compose and play purely for the love of music, it’s what keeps me going. With a demanding career as a technology consultant, composing is my way of winding down, my way of feeling alive. It gives me purpose and it makes me feel that something that just can’t quite be put in words. It’s the feeling that I hope you will experience in my music and it’s that feeling that I am overjoyed to share with you in ‘Songs of the Soul’.