“OUR AIM IS TO PROMOTE TALENTED MUSICIANS”
Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine: September 2019
Andrew Oliver lives with his wife in Paphos, but travels extensively to attend musical concerts across Europe. He is the President of Paphos Music Lovers Association which promotes music of all genres and arranges concerts across the region. A professional musician himself, he has played the piano from a very early age.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC?
When I was nine years old my father was the manager of a dance hall where he held many concerts. My interest in music started when I heard the rock band Status Quo performing at the dance hall shortly after they had had their first hit. Watching the real Status Quo really brought music to life for me. In the dance hall there was a stage and a grand piano. This is where I learnt to play the piano and when I practiced it was always with an audience as the dance hall was busy. This was good for my later career as I never had a fear of an audience. I went on to join the school orchestra and played a variety of instruments including the recorder and clarinet.
WHAT WAS YOUR PREVIOUS CAREER?
At the age of 16 I went to Music College in Colchester where I continued to learn the piano and also to learn the art of music composition, which I found fascinating. I also learnt to sing. On leaving music school I formed a pop group called Fiesta Show Band.
There were 5 in the band who were all graduates of classical music. Over the next 20 years I toured with different bands. In the 1980’s, with the advent of karaoke, I started playing in piano bars.
During an audition for the Café Royal in Regent Street, London, I was asked to perform two Elton John numbers. This led me in a new direction as an Elton John tribute act. I was no longer just a musician but now found myself as an entertainer. Whilst I have never met Elton John, he has stated that I was very good as a tribute and I travelled all over the world doing gigs for 18 years, often with a minder of my own.
I then moved on to performing in piano bars again and did a very long tour in Norway where I performed in front of a nightly audience of up to 1000 people. The idea was that we played any song we liked but we always did the No. 1s from the charts.
WHEN DID YOU COME TO CYPRUS?
When I turned 50 my agent suggested a 6 month tour in Cyprus. I thought, ‘why not?’ for a change, and came. Such was my fascination for the place I decided to put down roots and bought a stone house in Lania. After my 6 months I decided to come back and spent 10 years arranging tribute band concerts and performing myself. I was discovered by local tv and radio stations and was inundated with work. But my end mission was to promote local musicians. I did this through many shows, but thoroughly enjoyed working on the Ratpack Shows. Then I was offered the opportunity to tour for 3 years on cruise ships to some amazing destinations. I was keen though, to return to Cyprus so I could marry my Hamburg sweetheart, Christiane, in 2018.
WHEN DID YOU HAVE YOUR LIGHTBULB MOMENT TO CREATE PAPHOS MUSIC LOVERS?
I spend a lot of time in Hamburg with my German wife. Hamburg is a very cultured city and what I have tried to do is bring many of their ideas back to Paphos.
Paphos Music Lovers is a non-profit association which is dedicated to helping musicians find new venues and in turn, open up the musical performances to more people. A big part of our work is publicising the events through our newsletter, Facebook and website. Where we see a need, we create and promote a certain genre of music. Paphos is strong in the rock/pop concerts but where we saw a void was in classical performances. Most months we create 3 -10 concerts and during the Bach festival we put on 10 events.
These are all designed for everyone to enjoy and to appreciate the music. In June we organised 5 concerts. In September/October we have our World Music Festival when we have musicians flying in from overseas who will perform at 11 events.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE AIMS?
The aim is always to promote and publicise music. I realised from the beginning that I could never do such a big job on my own. Paphos Music Lovers is a group of like-minded people who all share the same aim. As their President, I am using my many years of experience to show how to organise, support and grow. It was in 2017, following our year of culture that I saw the need for more concerts in Paphos. 2017 proved to me that you can never have too many concerts – put them on and the audiences will come. Our events take place through volunteer support and sponsorship.
My main future aim for the association is to eventually make myself dispensable and hand over to others. We now have over 50 volunteers and members who, with guidance, are taking the association forward and are learning how to organise and promote events. We have recently appointed our first part-time professional Arts Administrator called Dan Merson who is bringing a wealth of experience to the role.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE MUSICIAN?
It is very hard for me to decide between Bach or Mozart. Mozart came after Bach. Between the two, I think I would go for Mozart as he never wrote a bad tune. I hope to arrange a festival around Mozart one day.
WHAT IS THE BEST CONCERT YOU HAVE EVER BEEN TO?
The best concert I have listened to took place last March. It was the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 which was performed by members of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra at the hall at La Scala de Paphos. I felt so proud having arranged these top musicians to come down from Nicosia and perform this masterpiece, which was breathtaking.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
After such a busy professional career I am always careful never to get bored. In Paphos I enjoy many activity groups which include four walking groups a week, a media studies group, a Jazz appreciation group and a history group. Obviously, I intend to concentrate and grow the Paphos Music Lovers Association over the next few years. I also plan to walk more and enjoy my semi-retirement with my new wife.
Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine.
Written by Sarah Coyne