Andy Pope was born in Moscow Idaho in 1953. A “military brat,” he lived there for only one year before moving to other parts of the world.
Andy began playing piano at the age of seven. He learned largely by osmosis, since his father, Dave Pope, was also an accomplished pianist. Also at that age, Andy began writing songs on the family piano. In so doing, he found a pleasant retreat from the perplexities life had begun to pose.
When Andy was ten, he composed two “rags” in the style of classic ragtime, gaining him admission into the National Ragtime Society. Two years later, he won first place in the junior advanced category of a tri-county piano competition. During adolescence, he began playing in rock bands, doing regular gigs at the Allied Teen Club in Naples, Italy. Finally, during his senior year in high school, he was introduced to musical theatre through an inspiring high school production of Man of La Mancha. Soon, he had his first job as Musical Director of Lincoln Summer Theatre in Stockton, California, and later went on to be musical director of the U. C. Davis Student Musical Theatre. There, he was an accompanist for the first non-professional production of Company in 1972 and Musical Director of the first live stage production of the rock opera Tommy in 1980.
Andy took on a major in Dramatic Arts at Davis, where he emphasized in Playwriting, studying under Ted Shank. Recognizing his talent, Dr. Shank invited Andy to participate in graduate playwriting seminars when he was yet a junior in college. Briefly attending the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific, he studied piano under Frank Wiens, as well as music theory and composition under the late Stan Beckler, who remained his theory-comp mentor until his death in 2010.
Andy had written two rock operas and three musical comedies before he reached the age of thirty. One of the musicals,Over My Dead Body, was produced twice — once at Lincoln Summer Theatre in 1973, and later at the Summer Repertory Theatre in Santa Rosa in 1974, after winning first place in a playwriting competition at SRT’s first season. He then became Assistant Musical Director of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, CA, a position he enjoyed throughout the early 80’s.
In the mid-to-late 80’s, Andy was contracted to compose incidental music for the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, then in Bakersfield CA. Throughout the 90’s, he served as the house pianist of Gulliver’s Restaurant in Burlingame CA. He also worked as a church musician, a school district accompanist, and a private teacher of Piano and Voice. In the early years of this century, he became an accompanist for various theatre companies, including the Hillbarn Theatre and Broadway By the Bay. He also taught music at Kids Connection in Foster City, where he conducted a 25-member children’s choir.
In 2004, a costly medical misdiagnosis led to a health crisis of extreme proportion, throwing him into homelessness for over a decade. While homeless, he continued to work, writing a new musical called The Burden of Eden and serving as a Musical Director for Theatre in the Mountains in Los Gatos as well as a singing teacher for Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose. The challenges of homelessness eventually led Andy to stop working on anything other than his Art. During the years 2013 thru 2015, he composed the entire score of Eden in Babylon while living outdoors, singing its melodies without the aid of musical instruments are music notation software.
In 2016, Andy returned to the city of his birth. There he notated and sequenced his score with Finale software, and also completed the first draft of the script in March 2017. An initial demo was produced in June 2018 involving singers from the Lionel Hampton School of Music. From 2019 to 2021, a number of workshops brought his work to fruition. He currently is submitting the show to theatre companies far and wide.
A journalist as of the past four years, his work has appeared on the independent news site Berkeleyside, the blog site Classism Exposed, and the site Spokane Faith and Values. He has also been published in a newspaper called Street Spirit, where his column — Homeless No More — has encouraged those who have escaped homelessness during their transition to indoor living.
At the present time, Andy lives peacefully in his home in Moscow Idaho, where he is a member of Moscow First Presbyterian Church and the Pianist of the United Church of Moscow.
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