Andy Pope began playing piano at the age of seven. He learned largely by osmosis, since his father, Dave Pope, was an accomplished pianist. At that time, Andy began to write songs in the presumptuous way of a child – knowing nothing of Music Theory. However, this early foundation opened the way for more sophisticated composition later in life.
Sometimes known as the “age of reason” – Andy discovered that music was a pleasant retreat from the perplexities of other children his age.
Andy composed two rags in the style of Classic Ragtime, gaining him admission into the National Ragtime Society.
While studying under Robert Savage, he entered a tri-county piano competition and placed first in the Junior Advanced category, performing music by Kuhlau and Kabalevsky. Dr. Savage provided him with ear training.
In his teens—
It became clear that Andy had been endowed with perfect pitch.
Andy’s father – Dave Pope – traveled overseas. Dave’s military travels took Andy to Italy where his passion for music grew.
Andy acquired a Gibson electric guitar and began playing regular gigs as the lead guitarist in a rock band composed of his fellow “military brats.”
Although growing up as a “military brat” is often daunting, Andy’s continual travel gave him exposure to the music of many different cultures.
In his twenties—
It was in returning to California that Andy first experienced an attraction to the Musical Theatre scene. Andy became the Musical Director of Lincoln Theatre in Stockton, as well as Musical Director of the Student Musical Theatre at the University of California at Davis.
He attended the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific. There 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 at the age of 85.
Andy wrote two rock operas and three musical comedies before he reached thirty. One of the musicals, Over My Dead Body, was produced twice: once at Lincoln Theatre, and once at the Summer Repertory Theatre in Santa Rosa.
In his thirties—
Despite the successes of his twenties, Andy grew disillusioned with the genre of Musical Theatre shortly after leaving PCPA (where he served as Assistant Musical Director in the early 80′s.) He began composing songs in a gentler style. During the 80′s he traveled as an itinerant singer-songwriter, taking his guitar to coffeehouses throughout Northern California.
The lure of Musical Theatre never ceased to make its presence felt. Andy describes this lure as something that summons him, “sometimes subtly, sometimes very vociferously.” Musical Theatre served as a haven for Andy.
Marquee Theatre in Santa Rosa was one such haven. The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville was another. It was there that the inspiration began to enfold for his musical, The Burden of Eden.
In his forties—
Andy could often seen looming behind a Yamaha C-3 grand piano at the prestigious Gulliver’s Restaurant in Burlingame. He learned as many jazz tunes and standards as possible, simultaneously performing as a church musician, a school district accompanist, and a private teacher of Piano and Voice.
In 1999, Andy once again returned to Musical Theatre, working as an accompanist and musical director for numerous companies, including Broadway By the Bay and the Hillbarn Theatre. He also resumed teaching privately, taught music at a private school, and conducted a 25-member children’s choir.
In his fifties—
In 2004, Andy found himself focusing, not on making money, but on composing music. It was during this period that The Burden of Eden was finally completed.
From there, Andy went on to become the Musical Director at Theatre in the Mountains, a singing teacher at Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose, an accompanist at Peninsula Voice Studio, and an opera coach at Peninsula Teen Opera, where two of his pieces from The Burden of Eden were performed.
In the summer of 2006 Andy found himself following an instinct that caused him to leave “mainstream society” as he calls it. Andy began asking himself questions, “How can the gift of music best be harnessed?” A new inspiration was born of introspective exploration, forming into Eden in Babylon, a musical.
This piece is still a work in progress in 2012. It will be thrilling – but not surprising – to see Eden in Babylon on stage in the years to come.
— written by Raederle.