The biography of Pandeli Lazaridi illustrates the supportive environment that enabled him to develop his talents to the fullest and to embark on a career in helping others to do the same. The Academy of Sound & Music, the Lazarideus Foundation, and The Small Opera of San Diego are natural developments within his history of learning, performing, and teaching.
The early years of music training

Pandeli Lazaridi, founder and director of the Academy of Sound & Music, was born in Greece in 1948. He began his musical education at the early age of nine, taking accordion and guitar lessons. Two years later, he auditioned for the National Conservatory of Athens, Greece, where he was immediately ofered scholarships in piano and music theory education. At the age of thirteen, he finished harmony and sight-reading, and three years later, he received an additional scholarship in singing.

An interest in drama

After starting piano and singing, Mr. Lazaridi's interests in drama developed, so he auditioned for the National Drama School in Athens. He was accepted and offered a scholarship for the full three years of study. He won first place in his first singing competition at the age of thirteen. In the next four years, he entered 35 more singing competitions and won first place in all of them. At the same time, he began tutoring in the conservatory, specializing in correcting students who sang flat, with extremely positive results.

An interest in sounds of the human voice

Mr. Lazaridi attended several seminars and lectures about voice, breathing, acting -- generally, any sound created by the human voice. He has been personally searching to find new and more effective ways to train the voice. Over the years, he has developed better, more efficient ways to teach speaking and singing, and to support the forming of the words through the consonants, with special exercises that he personally created for this purpose. He performed as a professional actor and singer in Greece as well as in the United States.

Career in the United States

In the United States, besides participating in several operas, musicals, and shows, Mr. Lazaridi also played piano and sang professionally in different nightclubs and theaters, singing and playing international music. He continued to teach and started his own school in 1976, The Academy of Sound and Music in San Jose, California. Mr. Lazaridi also taught at the Benny Smith Academy for Performing Arts from 1980 to 1982.

Success with students

Mr. Lazaridi's ultimate goal was to show people who are interested in singing or speaking or acting just how simple it is to find out about the production of sound by a human. He introduced them to his own unique methods and techniques. His work with students proved that his method was very successful and had tremendous effect for people to understand their own individual voice. For example, students who had unsuccessfully auditioned for years were offered roles at major theaters and shows, such as the Grand Ole Oprey, within four months of receiving Mr. Lazaridi's instruction.

Teaching in the Bay Area

As a result of his accomplishments, he was hired at the Alice Faye Ballet, Jazz and Tap Dancing Academy in Los Gatos, California, where he taught from 1982 to 1984. Thirty-five of his forty-five students, after only six months, participated in the California State Talent Competition. Out of 20,000 competitors, most of Mr. Lazaridi's students placed and thirteen won competitions with virtually no prior singing experience. Many of his students have pursued careers in musical theater, concertizing, and comic opera in many cities of the Bay Area with great success.

Relocation to San Diego

Mr. Lazaridi moved to San Diego from the Bay Area in 1990. He found that the arts and the performing arts were ready to blossom here, so he decided to stay permanently. Then he noticed that there were so many talented people who were not getting proper attention. This is when he started the dream to make sure that those talented people would be noticed and promoted toward professional careers. He started to work hard, putting on talent showcases and singing competitions to attract the most talented artists and presenting shows. The talented people would have venues that would permit them to perform on a regular basis. It would also give the opportunity to the audiences of San Diego County to enjoy and be proud of all those local talents who could be some of the future stars of the world.

Let the competitions begin!

In December, 1995 and February 1996, he hosted the first two Singing Competitions, held at the Hahn Theatre, which was formerly the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre in downtown San Diego. The plan was to have a monthly vocal competition. Then the winners would advance to an annual grand prize competition. At the same time, he started a Talent Showcase at Bassam's Cafe in downtown San Diego. For 2 1/2 years, every Tuesday night, this showcase was the most popular show in San Diego County. During that time, extraordinary singers came to the show, where Mr. Lazaridi brought all of the necessary sound equipment and set it up for the show. Cash prizes were awarded for first and second places, and a certificate for third place sponsored personally by Mr. Lazaridi. Winners were qualified for the monthly competitions. Unfortunately, he did not have enough funds or support from anywhere at that time, so he had to stop the shows for a while. He kept planning the next steps, however, and held three more singing competitions at Music Mart in Mira Mesa, which made many singers happy.

Singers "Broadway bound"

In the summer of 1998, Mr. Lazaridi presented a beautifully choreographed revue of Broadway musicals in a show called "Broadway Bound." The venue was the Third Avenue Cabaret, which offered a lovely "cabaret" type atmosphere. On the small stage, a very talented group of performers, some of whom are now playing leading roles in major theater companies, put together a fabulous show.

Shows in the schools

Part of Mr. Lazaridi's plan was to present the talented gathering of performers that he had discovered. He found the perfect opportunity for them when they were given the chance to perform at Hoover High School in March of 1998. The performance at the high school had a powerful impact on the school students. Performing in schools helps to introduce students to opera and classical music as well as gives the singers more opportunity to perform.

The new focus on opera

Mr. Lazaridi has been teaching all types of singing, from opera to pop, for 38 years. After the singing competitions, he had the fortune to take on some very talented students with beautiful opera voices. That was it. With his background in classical music and opera training at the National Conservatory of Music of Athens, Greece, he knew that he was sent to San Diego to harness a powerful stream of talented opera singers, start opera workshops, and have recitals to which professionals in the music business would be invited.

Opera workshops and recitals

In 1999, Mr. Lazaridi started several opera workshops, which ended in five major recitals. With a wonderfully talented group of 12 singers and more to come, he is making the local community realize that there are very gifted opera singers right here in San Diego. This is the beginning of an era of presentations of talented opera singers home grown in San Diego, which will help to promote them to the largest opera houses in the world. The Small Opera of San Diego is the manifestation of Mr. Lazaridi's dream, which is beginning to catch on with an appreciative public.

To see how much Mr. Lazaridi's work is appreciated, read the testimonials from those who have studied with him.

Lazarideus Small Opera