Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?
I had some good teachers for sure and I admired musicians and composers when I was a child. It was very early on in my life when I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in music, so I am not sure who or what exactly inspired me. One of the things that I do remember though is I would try to change the pieces that I was studying on the guitar or the clarinet, as I felt they could be different. Growing up and after studying a variety of different musical styles, I realized that I was more and more fascinated with the creative part of music. Each piece would lead to a need to write something else and this is how my journey as a composer started.
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
All of my teachers, my friends, my family, my colleagues, my students and anyone that I interact with in my everyday life is an influence. The music that I heard or played, the things that I read, the travels, concerts, theatre plays, art exhibits that I attended, the museums that I visited, and the experiences that I had living in three different countries for more than a decade in each, shaped who I am. I would not identify influences as “significant” or “insignificant” because all of them had an important role for me.
What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
The greatest challenge for me is to communicate and share my music with a bigger audience. Because of technology, internet, and social media, it seems to be easier today than it was a century ago, but the truth is it is getting harder and harder to communicate your work, as there is so much music out there that is produced every day. Being a composer gives you an extra responsibility towards your work; to find ways to share and communicate your music with the audience.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
A commissioned piece usually has a concept, a duration, and an instrumentation that are predetermined for the composer. In a sense, someone or a number of people thought about your new project before even you knew about it. It is a pleasure to understand the aesthetic world, the inscape, and the ideas of the commissioner, and work on something that is expected by a musician or an ensemble to be performed at a certain date. It gives you something to look forward to.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
To understand what they can and want to do in the limited time we have to work together. It is very interesting to get to know what musicians or ensembles enjoy doing and how something new would excite them and add a positive experience in their musical life.
Of which works are you most proud?
I am not particularly proud of any of my works, although I know that some have been better received than others. I just enjoy composing and I am happy to share the outcome of this process with anyone interested in listening to it.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
It is a journey through a combination of Western and Eastern Mediterranean music along with folk music of the world. I am focused on acoustic music and I write mostly modal, or music with a tonal centre.
How do you work?
I try to have a routine that involves composing, reading, writing, listening and teaching in a balanced schedule of doses that can allow me to have free time for my family and my hobbies. I usually compose every day. Of course, there are exceptions, but I try to at least see, think and make a minor change on the project I am currently working on if there is no time for more.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
I like selected pieces from many – if not all – composers. This relates to the fact that I am an eclectic composer myself, which means I choose heterogeneous characteristics and influences to use in a personal way.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To be happy and enjoy what you do. If you inspire others to do music or guide them to find their path, this is a double success. I have been blessed to see both in my life.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Freedom of thought, hard work, aim to have a balanced connection of intellect with emotion and spirit, and never stop following your dreams.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would like to continue being creative and enjoy what I do. Hopefully, this would allow me to share my work with more and more people around the world.
Michalis Andronikou (b. 1977) is a composer and associate professor of composition and theory at Providence University College in Manitoba. He holds a PhD in composition from the University of Calgary. He received his Bachelor in musicology from the Department of Music Studies, University of Athens, Greece. He has a Diploma in Classical Guitar, Clarinet and Music Theory from the Trinity College and the Royal Academy of Music, and a Diploma in Byzantine Music from the Argyroupolis Municipal Conservatory. Michalis gained credentials in Harmony, Counterpoint, Fugue, and Music Composition (with Theodore Antoniou) from the Hellenic Conservatory. Moreover, he has studied Greek folk instruments such as lute, tampoura and bouzouki.
Michalis has composed music for small and large ensembles, theatre plays, art exhibits, movies, songs. Seven CDs with his works have been released, since 2003, and his scores are published by the Canadian Palliser Music Publishing, the Bulgarian Balkanota, and the Italian Da Vinci Edition.