The story behind “Ancora”

Although I have never really thought of myself as a great composer, I have always loved to sit at the piano and improvise anything that pops into my mind. Most of what comes out is usually garbled nonsense, but occasionally inspiration strikes and I hit the record button immediately in the hopes of remembering a chord or melody that captured my imagination in that moment.

That is exactly what happened with my very first official single, “Ancora.” It’s something I came up with on 26th February 2017, just a few weeks after moving country to Berlin. I had just had my very first audition in Germany for Disney’s, “Der Glöckner von Notre Dame” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and afterwards, I sat down to play, trying to take my mind off waiting for an answer.

Within just about 5 minutes, the melody popped into my head. It felt like a message of hope and wonder of what was changing in my life. After all, I had just moved to a foreign country, living in a huge capital city, having just auditioned for a dream job and having met one of the most influential and important people in my life. It was all new and exciting, and I was dreaming about what else was waiting for me. In fact, when I saved the rough recording, I named it “Anfang der Träume,” meaning Beginning of Dreams in German.

After that, I pretty much forgot about the recording, and it remained hidden in a folder on my MacBook for over 2 years before I discovered it again. Listening back, I felt every emotion since that moment hit me all at once. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I almost gave up music because of struggling with a whole number of different things. But this single, rough recording reminded me instantly of how far I have come and the hope and dreams that I still carry with me. This inspired its new name, “Ancora” which means Still in Italian, because I am still dreaming, I am still hopeful and I am still trying to learn Italian!

For this reason, it was only fitting for this to be my first single. I spent some time editing and rewriting the original, refining some parts and writing it all down before it became the recording that it is. It’s a simple idea based on the simple dream we all share of being happy, but for me there are so many more emotions behind it.

The song has given me a new layer of inspiration to carry me even further forward. I’m now hard at work on new projects and recordings and I am still dreaming about everything the future has in store for me.

Listen to “Ancora” on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music and other streaming services.

Improvising at the piano

Why I wanted to quit music

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. The truth is, I’ve been struggling a lot with music. No matter what, it’s still my biggest passion in life and I could never live without it, but making a career in music is hard! 

It really demands everything from you; all of your time, dedication and energy. I love learning new music and rehearsing for concerts and performances, but it’s the sability (or lack of) that is almost impossible to deal with sometimes. You have to give it all your energy to find work, and almost all work that you do get are short contracts. So even when you are in a good job at the moment, you are still spending hours hunched over the computer searching for the next jobs.

And that’s not even to mention the rejection. You have to have skin of steel to be able to cope with the overwhelming amount of “Nos” you hear in a music career. Every time you are rejected at an audition, it knocks your self confidence and motivation down a little bit more.

So it has been a constant battle and question I, and many other musicians, have had to face, “Can I cope with the instability of music?” Inevitably, sometimes the demon shouting no can win, and, in fact, this is what has happened over the last few months. To tell the truth, I have had very little motivation to practice or learn new music, and it came down to a point where I have had to seriosuly consider if I carry on with music or simply call it a day.

I started to consider my life without music. Ironically, it was by doing this that I started to regain my motivation and passion to continue. Sure, I have some other hobbies and interests, but nothing at all that can make me feel like I do when I’m performing. I’m sure I could find another career doing something else, but I would always regret leaving behind my true passion.

Ultimately, I realised that I can’t give up on music until I’ve given it absoutely everything I’ve got. I know there is so much more that I can and will try, because in reality, I’m just getting started!

How it all began

Hello everybody and welcome to my blog on my brand new website! My name is Christopher Griksaitis and I’m a 27 year old opera singer from the North East of England. This blog is a way for me to discuss my music. I’d like to talk about my experiences, my new projects as well as the world of opera and auditions.

I can’t begin my blog or my story without a huge thank you to my piano teachers Jackie Brough and Christopher Thompson, who sadly passed away last year, my violin and viola teacher Louise MucKien and, of course, my singing teachers until now, John Forsyth and Gwion Thomas. I have been so lucky to have such wonderful and supportive teachers, who always encouraged me to find my own way to express myself and who really made me so passionate about all forms of music.

Christopher playing aged 11
Me playing piano aged 11

I started piano when I was 5 and I still play it every single day. I’ve always loved to sing as I play but how I started singing professionally was a little bit by chance really. When I was 13, I began playing viola with the Tees Valley Youth Orchestra. We used to go on tour with the Tees Valley Youth Choir but we were always split into 2 separate busses. Fate, however, seemed to have a different plan and on our tour to Spain when I was 16, there was an administrative error and I was accidentally assigned to the choir bus.

I honestly cannot thank that “error” enough. As choirs usually do, they sang every now and again during the journey and I would sing along with them. John Forsyth, the choirmaster who would later become my first singing teacher, came to me to convince me to join the choir. I’d always loved singing and so when we returned from Spain, I joined the Tees Valley Youth Choir.

My first concert as a singer had me learning and performing the incredible Mozart’s Requiem in less than 2 weeks. It felt a bit like being thrown into the deep end but I loved every single second of it and from that moment on, I knew nothing could ever give me the excitement, emotion and exhilaration that singing can. From the first note of the concert right through to the last, I felt I had been transported to another world and it’s a feeling that I still have when I sing on stage.

The rest, as they say, is history. I started singing lessons just a few weeks after joining the choir and my passion and dedication to singing never wavered. I honestly can’t imagine my life without music, being able to pour out all of my emotions through singing and playing.

Of course I have many more stories and experiences to tell and I’d really love to hear your opinions on what I share. I’m always open to and grateful for suggestions and advice but I thought as the first post of the blog, this initial foray into the magical world of singing was the perfect story to tell.