Charis Andreadis (Χάρης Ανδρεάδης)

Born: August 30th, 1946, Salonica-Thessaloniki (Greece)
Nationality: Greek

Eurovision record
The most experienced Greek conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest, Charis Andreadis led the orchestra for seven entries for the Hellenic republic between 1978 and 1995, including such festival classics as ‘Charlie Chaplin’ (1978), ‘Anoixi’ (1991), and ‘Olou tou cosmou i elpida’ (1992). Moreover, Andreadis arranged and conducted two Cypriot entries: ‘To katalava arga’ (1985) and ‘Apopse as vrethoume’ (1989), bringing his total to nine songs and making him one of the twelve conductors with most participations in the history of the contest.

Charis Andreadis about to take the bow for his first Eurovision participation, Paris 1978. In front of him, the pianist accompanying the Greek entry on stage, Marcos Alexiou, can be recognized

Biography
Charis Andreadis, born in Salonica, was brought up with music around him from his earliest youth, his father working as a pianist and accordionist in cabarets, accompanying dancers and singers from Greece and Western Europe. In 1950, the family moved to Athens. Charis: “In Athens, there were more job opportunities for my dad. He continued playing in good cabaret orchestras... but he was only an instrumentalist, who never arranged music. For me, he had a dream: he wanted his son to become a conductor. To him, being a conductor must have seemed one step higher on the ladder in the music business – something superior to what he was doing himself. When I was eight years old, my parents sent me to a piano teacher called George Platon, with whom I stayed for many years. Initially, I studied the piano just because my parents wanted me to – not because I liked it myself. Slowly, however, I began being interested in music, classical music. I listened to records by Bach and Chopin and I loved what I heard. But it was not clear to me yet that I wanted to be a professional musician.”

When Charis was sixteen years old, he discovered jazz and pop music: “I met Marcos Alexiou, a young jazz pianist. I was thrilled by the things he played… I had never listened to music like that before in my life. From that moment onwards, I started collecting records by the great American jazz pianists such as Oscar Peterson. Sometime in 1962, some friends of mine who had a little music group asked me to join them to play on the island of Spetses in the summer season. They were looking for a pianist. I agreed and thus I found myself playing music I had never listened to before… because my friends only played pop, covering popular songs by Paul Anka, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. Remember, so far, I had only been studying classical music, so ‘Diana’ and ‘Now or never’ were like culture shocks to me! Luckily, all parts were written out and I was simply sight-reading, playing along with the others. We played in bars evening after evening. During breaks, I would play classical music just for myself, mainly pieces by Chopin. Some boys and girls of my age would stand around the piano to listen to what I was playing… My time in Spetses was quite important, because it taught me to value all kinds of music. I did not care if I was playing music that was popular or music that hardly anyone wanted to listen to. Publicity and popularity have never been important to me. I simply want to be at the piano and play… any good music, no matter in which style.”

Interviewed by www.andtheconductoris.eu at the Ledra Marriott Hotel in Athens, October 2012

Upon graduating from high school in 1964, Charis Andreadis chose to pursue another of his passions, studying philosophy at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens for two years. “As for the choice for philosophy, I did not have a career in mind… I just loved – and still love – reading the works of classical philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The problem in those years, however, was that my father’s health deteriorated so much, that he was unable to work and earn money for the family for prolonged periods. This meant that it became my duty to maintain my mother and sister by working as a pianist in bars and cabarets in the evening. After a while, I broke off my studies once and for all. In ’66, I was called up for the obligatory twenty-eight months of service in the army, which I spent in the Air Forces. On the night when Papadopoulos and his fellow colonels grabbed power in April ’67, I was on duty in the ministry of Defence… I saw some lights flashing, but it was only on the morning after that I understood what had happened.”

Being released from the army and continuing to work as a pianist in Athens, Andreadis finally decided to try to follow in his father’s footsteps: entering the Athens Conservatoire (1970), he studied the piano with Giannis Maris and Lucas Vitsentzatou as his teachers, while he was taught counterpoint, harmony, fugue, and other theoretical subjects by Giannis Andreou Papaioannou. Not satisfied with the level of the arranging and conducting classes at the music school, Andreadis decided to cross the Atlantic in ’72. “My destination was New York, or, more specifically, the Don Sebesky School”, he comments. “Don Sebesky was an American jazz trombone player and arranger. He taught students privately. Though I would have preferred staying longer, I could only afford the money to stay in the US for one summer. I managed to pay for my studies in Greece by working as a pianist, but, obviously, in New York life was much more expensive.” Andreadis graduated from the Athens Music School in 1974.

Conducting on stage for the first time in his life – Thessaloniki Song Festival, September 1974

Already as a student, besides his live gigs in bars and cabarets, Andreadis started working as a studio pianist. How did this come about? Andreadis: “From the time onwards of that summer on Spetses in 1962, I continued playing in clubs in Athens. During my time at the conservatory, I even had a group of friends with whom I played rock in the style of Led Zeppelin and The Doors. Gradually, I made a name for myself as a versatile musician, able to play different styles: classical music, jazz, pop, rock – anything. It was Giannis Savvopoulos, the avant-garde composer, who was advised by someone to hire me for his album ‘Ballos’. That was in 1971. One year later, I played the piano on the studio project ‘Megalos eroticos’ by Manos Hatzidakis. Some years later, I became the pianist of another important Greek composer, Stavros Xarchacos. I played on his album ‘Choris logia’ and went on tour in West Germany and Austria with him and the lyric soprano Agni Baltsa.”

The year 1974 was an important one in Charis Andreadis’ life. Shortly after his graduation, he was given the opportunity to arrange a song for the Thessaloniki Song Festival, the Greek equivalent of Italy’s Sanremo Contest. Andreadis had been involved in the event in previous years, being the pianist in the festival orchestra on several occasions. In 1971, he had even competed in the competition as a songwriter with his first composition: ‘Koritsi allioiktico’, interpreted by Stelios Calathopoulos. In ’74, he was invited to arrange Tonis Vavatsicos’ entry to the festival, a song bearing the lengthy title ‘Pios na xeri to vlemma tou piso ti kryvi o theos gia mas’. Andreadis: “For me, it was a nice opportunity… effectively, it was the first time I arranged a song which was recorded in the studio. I managed to include some classical elements in the orchestration. In Thessaloniki, I made my debut as a conductor on stage. I was extremely surprised and happy at the same time, when Tonis’ song won the festival! The impact of participating in the Thessaloniki Festival in those days was enormous… it was a manifestation which was followed across the country. Finally, I had fulfilled the ambition my father had had for me for such a long time… I had become a conductor! He was still alive and congratulated me: “Well done, Charis! You made it, boy!” Coincidentally, that same day, my first child, Dimitris, was born. My wife was expecting a baby and, during the rehearsals in Thessaloniki, I had been calling home nervously to ask her about the situation. On the night when we won the festival, coming off the stage, I telephoned again and learnt that there was a little baby waiting for me. It certainly was a night to remember!”

While Tonis Vavatsicos is receiving the cheers from the audience following his victory in the 1974 Thessaloniki Festival, Charis Andreadis is waiting to count in the orchestra for the reprise of the winning song

In spite of becoming more heavily involved as a pianist and arranger in the studio every year, Andreadis continued working in live bands, one of which became ‘his’ in 1976. Andreadis: “I became the conductor of a ten-piece-orchestra which played in the Neraïda Club in Athens. It consisted of a rhythm group and three brass players: French horn, trombone, and saxophone. Later onwards in the 1970s, we played in other places like the Athinaia and the Queen Anne. Commissions like this lasted for the summer season only. We played different styles: one hour of jazz, one hour of pop, and then – this would usually be in the middle of the night – one hour of laïko, Greek-style popular music, with a bouzouki player added to the band.”

After his victory as an arranger and conductor in Thessaloniki, gradually, what had started as just another way to make money to pay for his studies and support his family, became his main source of income: arranging for studio recordings of popular music. In the second half of the 1970s, Andreadis worked as an arranger with Greek vocalists such as Alexandros Molfessis and Tonis Vavatsikos. “These were years of transition”, Andreadis explains, “because, while being involved in recordings with pop musicians as an arranger and conductor, I was still working as a pianist for avant-garde composers such as Xarchacos, Hatzidakis, and Nicos Mamangakis. You could say I led a double life… I was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! In the 1970s, the main arranger for laïko and pop in Greece was Costas Clavvas. He was much older than me. When arranging became more important for me, I told myself: “Someday, I want to be better than him!” Clavvas was the best in the ‘60s and ‘70s without any competition. I do not know if I succeeded in becoming a better arranger, but from the early 1980s onwards, I made more studio recordings than him. I was more or less his successor. In some years, I wrote over half of all studio arrangements which were recorded in this country. As I got to work with the most popular artists, the budgets were mostly quite generous. When I wrote a string arrangement, I invited six first and six second violinists, violas, cellos, double-bass… as many players as I could get. This cost the record companies a lot of money, but producers usually said: “All right, Charis, if that is how you like it – do it your way!”

At the piano, accompanying Greek pop star Charis Alexiou, early 1990s

From the early 1980s onwards, Andreadis has worked as an arranger with virtually all Greek stars in the laïko, pop, and rock genres, including Marinella, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Aleka Canellidou, Antonis Vardis, Giannis Parios, Alexia, Costas Charitodiplomenos, Bessy, Antonis Remos, Notis Sfakianakis, and Marios Fragoulis. He had long-standing working relationships with Giannis Miliocas, with whom he recorded four consecutive albums between 1985 and 1990, and Giannis Poulopoulos (nine albums). Charis Alexiou put her trust in Andreadis as an arranger and conductor for eight years. In 1987, Andreadis recorded the album ‘Latin’ with George Dalaras and American guitarist Al Di Meola. For Anna Vissi, he arranged the mega hit ‘Den thelo na xeris’ (1991), whilst, one year later, being involved in writing the orchestration of her duet with Nicos Carvelas, ‘Emis’. Once more proving his versatility, Andreadis recorded an LP with children’s music with Sakis Tsilikis and Giannis Calamitsis (1982) and a blues album with Laurentis Machiritsas (1991). Some forty records with his orchestrations reached the gold or platinum status in Greece. In more recent years, he teamed up with the likes of Christos Dantis and Giannis Ploutarchos.

Besides his arranging work, Andreadis occasionally composed some songs as well, including ‘Zisame’ for Alexandros Molfessis (1976), ‘Tora gia mena’ for Dora Archontaki (2002), and ‘Tha s’agapo’ for Dionysia Caroki (2006); for Giannis Poulopoulos’ album ‘Ta erotika’ from 1996, he provided two compositions. Compared to his production as an arranger, though, Andreadis’ composing record looks slightly bleak. “Though I cannot exactly explain why, I never felt quite at ease as a songwriter”, Andreadis says. “I never managed to find a style of my own, which I found much easier as an arranger. In the end, it all comes down to ambition… and it was not my ambition to write songs that people would sing along to. Sure, a composer earns more, but, for me, it was not important to get rich through my work in the music business. I have always preferred arranging to composing. If I ever had an ambition, it was to allow the orchestra I was working with to play and sound well. I have simply wanted to have a good time for myself. No matter if it is classical music, jazz, pop, or rock, I enjoy working on good music of each of these categories.”

Athens, October 2012

Shunning the spotlights, Charis Andreadis never became a household name on Greek television. Apart from several appearances as a conductor in the Thessaloniki Festival between 1975 and 1982, he confined himself to writing several arrangements for Lefteris Chalkiadakis’ ERT Orchestra. From the 1990s onwards, Andreadis has often performed on stage as a conductor in theatre concerts with pop and cross-over artists, including Emma Shapplin, Marios Fragoulis, Marinella, and Costas Hatzis. In 2010, he was the musical director of the ‘Rock Swings’ concerts, which featured rock songs played in jazz arrangements with three vocalists and a big band.

Charis Andreadis in the Eurovision Song Contest
Between 1978 and 1995, Charis Andreadis led the Eurovision orchestra for seven Greek and two Cypriot entries, making him the eighth most experienced conductor in the history of the contest – ex aequo with four legendary names of the early years of the festival: Francis Bay (Belgium), Øivind Bergh (Norway), Eric Robinson (United Kingdom), and Kai Mortensen (Denmark). The bespectacled Greek maestro with his shy smile became a familiar face for commentators and viewers across Europe.

Andreadis made his debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1978. That year, Greece was represented in the festival in Paris by a young female artist at the beginning of an impressive career, Tania Tsanaclidou, who interpreted ‘Charlie Chaplin’, an idiosyncratic ode to the eponymous film star, who had died in December ’77. Andreadis recalls how he was nearly bamboozled out of this prestigious commission: “It was only after the Eurovision Song Contest that I was told that the Greek broadcaster ERT had originally wanted another arranger and conductor to accompany Tania to France instead of me. This guy, whose name I will not mention, but who was someone with considerable influence in ERT circles, argued that I, with my thirty-one years, was too young for such an important manifestation as Eurovision. At that point, however, Tania Tsanaclidou and the composer of the song, Sakis Tsilikis, intervened, effectively vetoing ERT’s choice. They had decided to have me as their musical director and refused to consider someone else taking over the job. It was very courteous of both of them to put that much confidence in me. ‘Charlie Chaplin’ was a very special song with no ties whatsoever to our Greek musical heritage. I quite liked it! For me, it was an interesting opportunity to find the correct flavour for the arrangement. Any arranger should be able to adapt to the style of each particular song. I tried giving this piece a cabaret atmosphere that reminded the listener of days gone by – of the days of Charlie Chaplin.”

Taking his bow on the Eurovision stage for the first time, Eurovision Song Contest 1978, Paris

In the contest in Paris, ‘Charlie Chaplin’ gave Greece a respectable eighth place. Andreadis remembers how excited he was about his participation in the contest: “It was the first time I conducted abroad and my nerves were running high! I became even more nervous when I found out what plans the French director had in store for me… He had decided it would be a nice idea to move the orchestra platform while our pianist Marcos Alexiou played the intro of the song. Already during rehearsals, Tania Tsanaclidou had warned me to be careful: “Charis, when the stage starts moving, remember to put your legs far apart!” So I did! On the night, because of my nerves, I was slightly unbalanced when the orchestra stage was moved, but not enough to fall flat on my face. In later Eurovisions, in spite of there not being any moving platforms any more, I always was nervous when making the walk backstage to the podium. I was thinking of everything that could go wrong with the orchestra and the vocalists… it really felt as my responsibility that everything would go well. However, after I had taken my bow and counted in the orchestra, these nerves were gone… From that moment, I only focused on the orchestra and on the music and my agony was over. The pianist accompanying Tania on stage was Marcos Alexiou, a long-time friend who I had known from my sixteenth year onwards.”

It was not until seven years after his first taste of the Eurovision Song Contest that Charis Andreadis was given another go at the competition. In 1985, he was the conductor for the Greek, but also for the Cypriot delegation in the festival held in Gothenburg, Sweden. It is the only time in the history of the contest that another maestro than the host conductor led the orchestra for entries from two different countries in the same year. The ballads ‘Moiazoume’ by Takis Biniaris (Greece) and ‘To katalava arga’ by Lia Vissi (Cyprus) failed to impress the international juries, finishing in a tied sixteenth place with just fifteen points each. Andreadis about the strange situation of conducting for two different countries: “When I did Eurovision, it was always because the composers had requested me to work on their entries, not the broadcasting company. It was simply a coincidence that Lia Vissi and Takis Biniaris both wanted me to arrange their songs in the studio and conduct them in the contest. In Gothenburg, the composers were constantly taking the Mickey out of the situation, jokingly accusing me of having written a better arrangement for the other. Perhaps there was a slightly serious undertone in what they were saying… I cannot be sure! What was maybe even funnier was the title of the Greek song; ‘Moiazoume’ means ‘we look alike’… and the Greek delegation claimed the song was about me, as I looked very much like my twin brother who conducted for Cyprus! Though I never was in the Eurovision Song Contest to win it, it was a pity Biniaris did not get the votes his song deserved. He was so nervous that he could barely sing.”


In 1985, uniquely, Charis Andreadis conducted the entries of both Greece and Cyprus. Here he is, helping Greek representative Takis Biniaris on his way in his rendition of ‘Moiazoume’

In the late 1980s, on a couple of occasions, Greek broadcaster ERT organized a televised pre-selection to choose the song to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest. The most ambitious of these Greek finals was held in 1988 in the Municipal Theatre in Piraeus, with a large orchestra on stage and eight entries vying for one ticket to the international final in Dublin. Conductors for the programme in Piraeus were Jick Nakassian and Charis Andreadis, each taking care of half of the songs. Andreadis arranged and conducted ‘An’ for Angela Dimitrou, ‘To synainetiko’ for Christos Gatsos, the wonderful ‘Xehasmeni balada’ for Stelios Stavrakis, and the eventual winner: ‘Kloun’, performed by Afroditi Fryda. Andreadis also led the orchestra for this song in Dublin. The gimmick of having a real clown on stage failed to make an impact in Ireland, though, and Dimitris Sakislis’ composition was rewarded with a mere ten points and a seventeenth place.

“‘Kloun’ was not a bad song”, Andreadis comments, “but certainly not the best piece of music that I wrote an arrangement to. What annoyed me about the contest in those days, was the trading of votes amongst the chief of delegations before the contest: “You give us five votes and we will give you six”. Things like that really happened. I am not saying that ‘Kloun’ did badly because of cheating, but these practices were simply unfair. The habit of Cyprus and Greece of awarding each other’s entries with high votes no matter what also appalled me. I am happy to say that I was never involved in proceedings like this, but one thing is for sure: not all songs received the number of votes they deserved. As for Dublin, I only remember the experience because the hotel room that was booked for me was not clean. Most of the times when I went to Eurovision, we were living in very nice hotels. I needed a quiet and tidy environment to work pleasantly… like at home. Our chef de delegation understood this and quickly booked a room in another hotel for me.”


The winning performance in the 1988 Greek pre-selection in Piraeus: Afroditi Fryda singing ‘Kloun’, with Charis Andreadis taking care of the orchestra

In the year after, 1989, Marios Meletiou invited Charis Andreadis to arrange and conduct his composition ‘Apopse as vrethoume’, which had been selected internally by the Cypriot broadcaster CyBC to represent the Mediterranean island in the Eurovision Song Contest in Lausanne, Switzerland. This straightforward love song, performed as a duet by Fanny Polymeri and Giannis Savidakis, finished eleventh amongst twenty-two participants. The event in Lausanne was the first time – but not the last – Charis Andreadis had to cope with a problem regarding one of the orchestra musicians. “In my arrangement for the Cypriot song, the opening four bars had to be played solo by the electric guitar in F-major. After that, Fanny Polymeri started singing while the rest of the orchestra fell in. Shockingly, the guitar player in Switzerland was drunk almost all week. During the rehearsals, there always was a glass of Scotch under his chair. In the live broadcast, after I had counted the guitarist in, I noticed he started in G-major… the wrong key! He played one tone up! My heart was beating fast and I was about to close the orchestra to start again, because Fanny had to take the tune from the guitar. Miraculously, though, at that moment, the orchestra fell in and Fanny started singing in F! I do not know how she did it… perhaps she had the tune in her ear after so many rehearsals. That is why I decided not to stop the music. The rest of the performance went well. After the programme, the electric guitarist came to me, apologizing profusely for what had happened. He had been told by some fellow musicians in the orchestra about his mistake.”

For a naturally shy person such as Charis Andreadis, a Eurovision Song Contest with receptions, parties, and loads of journalists from all corners of Europe, must have been a trial. How did he survive a week like that? Andreadis: “Going to a Eurovision final was always interesting, but not for the reasons why most other people liked it. Perhaps hard to understand for many, but, during rehearsals, I was in the auditorium from 10AM to 4PM. I did not miss one single minute! I was watching my fellow conductors, simply observing the way they worked with the orchestra and listening to their arrangements. I was there to learn and perhaps even steal some interesting ideas! I was the only conductor who did this. In 1989, in Lausanne, I was really impressed by Juan Carlos Calderón from Spain. Correct, the song was ‘Nacida para amar’… a beautiful ballad. Calderón’s arrangement was a work of genius! I preferred absorbing what my colleagues from other European countries were doing with the orchestra to going on a trip to the Lac Leman in a Swiss train. Frankly, I did not care about things like that. I did not like parties and when the leader of our delegation told me about some reception, my standard answer was always: “Without me!” Well, sometimes, I could not escape going, but usually I simply withdrew to my hotel room, immersing myself in a good book or listening to some nice music on my walkman.”


Andreadis conducting the 1989 Cypriot entry in Lausanne

Charis Andreadis reveals that he could have conducted two more Greek Eurovision entries, had he wanted to: ‘Horis skopo’ by Christos Callow (1990) and ‘To trehantiri (Diri diri)’ by Costas Bigalis (1994). Andreadis explains: “When I said yes to arranging and conducting a certain song which had been offered to me, I did so because I liked the composition and because I felt sure I would enjoy working on the project. Throughout my career, I have always needed to feel involved in what I was doing; otherwise, I did not see the point in bothering at all. In 1990, I had promised to arrange ‘Horis skopo’, with which Christos Callow was due to represent Greece. I made an appointment with Callow to come to my house to do a piano rehearsal, but he did not show up. I called him to fix a new date, but on the second occasion he was not there either. At that point, I decided I had had enough. I did not feel like working with someone who was not committed. I called the production manager of Greek television and told him to find someone else to go to Eurovision with this guy Callow. Michael Rozakis replaced me in Yugoslavia. The story with Costas Bigalis in 1994 is very different. Bigalis is a true music professional. I would like to have gone to Eurovision with him, but, at that time, my schedule was so busy that I found myself unable to. I was working on an ambitious album project with Marinella and Costas Hatzis, which took me a lot of time. I told Bigalis that he had to find someone else to arrange and conduct his Eurovision song. Bigalis, however, convinced me to write the arrangement. “I will find someone else to conduct it in Dublin instead of you”, he added. That is the way it happened. In the festival, the host conductor (Noel Kelehan, BT) took over on my behalf.”

In 1991, Andreadis again conducted the Greek festival entry, ‘Anoixi’, a sophisticated pop song about the arrival of spring with music and lyrics by Andreas Microutsicos – in the Eurovision broadcast, Andreadis was credited as co-composer, but he claims he had no involvement in it but writing the arrangements and taking care of the synthesizer track in the studio – and performed by Sophia Vossou. In the contest’s final in Rome, this Greek song only finished thirteenth, far below expectations. People who were there remember that the orchestra stood up after the first rehearsal to applaud the arrangement and Sophia Vossou’s interpretation of the song, only augmenting the expectations of doing well in the eventual voting. Sadly, ‘Anoixi’ will forever be remembered as the song of the failed saxophone solo; the sax player in the orchestra made a hash of the solo, managing to play it without hitting one single note.


The story of a good song, a brilliant singer, an original arrangement and a hapless sax player who ruined it: Charis Andreadis conducting ‘Anoixi’ for Sophia Vossou in Rome, Eurovision 1991

Andreadis sighs deeply when thinking back of the contest in Italy: “Rome… well, what shall I say? We had a good song and a fantastic interpreter. This saxophone solo was mine; I had written it note by note – I did not want to leave any room for improvisation. It was a very difficult solo. In rehearsals, there was a young sax player. When the orchestra played the song for the first time, he had trouble, but from the second time onwards, his rendition was flawless. From that moment onwards, my apprehension about the orchestra subsided. I felt sure we would be all right. However, when I walked on stage just before we performed our song in the live broadcast, I immediately noticed there was another sax player… a much older guy. I asked the floor manager what this was about. “Oh don’t you worry”, he laughed, “he is much better than the other one!” Can you imagine how I felt when I counted the band in? I had a feeling of impending doom, and my worst fears were confirmed when he did what he did with the solo. After our performance, I felt angry and sad. Afterwards, I learned that the orchestra players were freelance and the young player had been sent away when he asked the Italian broadcaster RAI for more money to do the gig. They had him replaced by this older man. Things would have been all right if they had called on this other player two days before the contest to allow him to play along in some of the rehearsals… now, he had to perform in a live broadcast without having attended any of the preparations… incredible!”

In spite of the disappointment of the year before, Andreadis was the conductor of the Greek delegation in 1992 again, when the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Malmö, Sweden. Cleopatra Pantazi interpreted a delightful pop ballad composed by Christos Lagos, ‘Olou tou cosmou i elpida’. Cleopatra obtained a well-deserved fifth place in the final score, equalling the best Greek ranking of ‘Mathema solfège’ in 1977. Andreadis: “We had a very good time in Malmö. Cleopatra was a good girl and was most professional in the way she worked. I had selected five musicians to accompany her on stage; they were all session players I knew well from the studio world in Athens. They were my friends and, understandably, the atmosphere amongst us was good all week. In those days, it was allowed to have a pre-recorded backing track, as long as all instruments included on it were mimed on stage. Christos Lagos himself was the guitarist. The bridge of the song included a clarinet solo which I had written. Contrary to the sax solo in Rome, this time I had decided to include the clarinet on the backing track as well, so nothing could go wrong. I only used the strings and brass players of the live orchestra in Sweden. When we received so many points, it came as a pleasant surprise to all of us.”


Charis Andreadis conducting the 1992 Greek entry ‘Olou tou cosmou i elpida’, which obtained a well-deserved fifth place in the final scores of the Eurovision Song Contest held in Malmö

In his last three Eurovision performances (1992, 1993, and 1995), Charis Andreadis wore a striking and colourful tie. Was it some sort of superstition? Andreadis, smiling: “No… I was given this tie as a present from my little daughter Jenny, who was ten years old in 1992. The tie shows Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, the protagonists in ‘Gone with the wind’, an old Hollywood movie. To my daughter’s delight, I promised to wear the tie in the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden. Simply as a token of my affection for her, I wore the tie again in 1993 and 1995. On one or two occasions, while taking my bow to the audience in the live broadcast, I also winked my eye for her. So there was no superstition involved… I simply did it for my daughter and it was always very moving to be embraced and thanked by her upon my return in Athens after another contest!”

In 1993, the Eurovision Song Contest was staged in Millstreet, Ireland, where Greece took part with another modern pop effort, ‘Ellada chora tou fotos’, composed by Demosthenes Stringlis and interpreted by the fledgling young star Keti Garbi. Helped by Garbi’s provocative live performance, the song managed to obtain a ninth spot. Andreadis: “Nevertheless, we were a little disappointed, as we had been expecting to do better. During rehearsals in Ireland, there had been a bit of a conflict between Keti and Demosthenes. He thought his song required a more traditionally Greek interpretation, while Keti was determined to give it a distinct pop flavour. Of course, with problems of this nature, it was my role as the musical director to find a solution. Usually, issues like this were resolved during preparations in Athens, but this time I found myself trying to mediate between composer and singer in Ireland. In cases like this, I used to say: “Come on, let’s get over it – I do not want to hear about problems, I want to hear just music!” In the end, we found a solution which was a mix of Keti’s and Demosthenes’ ideas. On my advice, she did two or three bits in a traditional, somewhat oriental style close to Greek traditional music, and changed to a modern pop approach for the remainder of the song. After the voting, when the atmosphere in our team was quite down-hearted, it was, of all people, Keti who was cheerful. She said: “Don’t worry, Charis, I am OK! Please don’t feel sorry!”


Keti Garbi performing ‘Ellada, chora tou fotos’, the Greek entry to the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, arranged and conducted by Andreadis

In 1995, Charis Andreadis conducted a Eurovision entry for the ninth and last time. Greece was represented by an excellent young singer by the name of Elena Constantopoulou with ‘Poia prosefchi’, a subtle and sombre ballad, which begins with a spoken prayer in ancient Greek. The effort was penned by Antonis Pappas (lyrics) and Nicos Terzis (music), the latter of whom went on to compose several other Eurovision songs in later years. In the international final, Constantopoulou finished twelfth. Andreadis: “Composer Nicos Terzis is a bit of a freak, but a good boy at the same time. While he was working on the song in Athens, he told me he considered opening it with a prayer; he wondered what I thought about that. I instantly liked his idea and said he should go ahead with this plan. For Eurovision, this song was perhaps a little inaccessible and too complicated for the general public, but, frankly, Nicos and I did not care about writing or arranging a song that was tailor-made for the Eurovision Song Contest… no, we wanted to participate with a song that we both liked. Elena made us proud with an excellent performance – she was and still is a marvellous singer.”

“When the big orchestra was taken out of the competition”, Andreadis concludes, “I was disappointed. Certainly not because it meant I would not have the opportunity to appear in the contest again, no… an orchestra produces a sound which brings happiness to my ears and to my soul. Orchestrations such as the one written by Juan Carlos Calderón in 1989 were excellent; it is things like that which we have to do without nowadays when watching the programme. I still watch it with friends or family. We order pizza and drink a glass of beer, making comments about all songs. Others have a good time watching it, but for me as a musician there is nothing in it which interests me… it is a show rather than a music competition. Having said that, I have only good memories of the time when I participated!”


Charis Andreadis’ last participation in the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1995, when he conducted the orchestra for the stately ballad ‘Poia prosefchi’, interpreted by Elena Constantopoulou

Other artists on Charis Andreadis
So far, it has not been possible to gather memories of other artists about Charis Andreadis.

Links & sources
  • Bas Tukker interviewed Charis Andreadis in Athens, October 2012.
  • All photos courtesy of Charis Andreadis and his son Dimitris.
  • Thanks to Costas Zisis, Minas Holevas, and Giannis Vlachos in helping us tracking down Mr Andreadis and preparing the interview.

  

Songs conducted
1978: Charlie Chaplin
1985: To katalava arga
1985: Miazoume
1988: Clown
1989: Apópse as vréthoume
1991: Anixi
1992: Olou tou kosmou i elpida
1993: Ellada, chora tou fotos
1995: Piá prosefchi