At the age of 5, Frank Panaou was introduced to the stage for the first time as a member of a children’s orchestra playing the recorder and percussion. Today you might say he’s a well-rounded musician, but he continues to channel the knowledge and experience he gains with every performance to where he will be remembered and leave a legacy in music behind.
Frank believes that it’s the music theory and recorder lessons from a young age (4), studying rhythmic notation, solfeggio and aural skills, which today set him apart from other singers hoping to achieve the same goals. “Your most important tool as a musician is to listen,” he explains. “You also need to connect with the rhythm of the music, whether it’s classical or popular music. Where that natural feel comes from, I don’t know, but there’s a gap between 18th century and contemporary music that musicians often struggle to bridge.”
During primary school (Anton Van Wouw Primary School in Pretoria), Frank used to perform annually with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, appearing as guest conductor during his final two years. Arguably his best achievement as a young classical musician was a 2nd place in the national Sanlam Music Competition for Primary School Pupils, where he proclaimed the ice had been broken as far as hitting the big stage was concerned. Other awards include the Hennie Joubert Merit Prize by the University of South Africa and qualifying for the Roll of Honour of Outstanding Achievers on recorder and piano, and winning the Pretoria Beeld Eisteddfod for woodwinds.
At 16 he was part of the Afrikaans Boys High School Choir that brought home the Best Young Male Choir medal from the International Choir Olympics in Germany. Frank has always been involved in teaching voice parts and harmony work during his choral activities. These also include primary school choirs, the University of Pretoria Jacaranda Children’s Choir, the University of Pretoria Youth Choir and others he joined during his student years.
It was also at 16 that Frank started experimenting with pop music’s chords and melodies. Before long he was in the studio recording his first string of pop compositions, a passion that became his muse as an artist. Adding to the fire was his first solo performance, singing Freddie Mercury’s “Somebody To Love” along with the Affies Boys’ Choir and a band consisting of choir members.
It was the realization that nothing but performing could make him happier, that drove him to achieve the highest mark and graduate a Diploma in Performing Arts (Song) at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in the United Kingdom. “England is my second home, being there inspires me in every way. The live music scene in Liverpool was refreshing and had a big impact on my development as an artist, no doubt.”
In the time since Frank Panaou’s return to South African soil at the end of 2009, he’s been active as production singer in the Casino and Cruise Ship industry, and performs regularly at charity events and corporate functions. In August 2011, he was crowned the winner in the Rekord newspaper’s annual singing competition, Rekorvoce, subsequently attracting attention from Pretoria record label Storm Rekordz to release his highly anticipated debut single in February 2012. He has written songs in English and Afrikaans and frequently collaborates with other writers, musicians and producers. He writes on piano, which he started taking lessons for at the age of 6.
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