Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Heart Soul — and Adaptability

Heart Soul — and Adaptability

Headshot of Paul Avgerinos

Thirty years after fully committing himself to producing music from his heart and soul, Paul Avgerinos (BM ’81, Double Bass) found himself onstage at the 2016 Grammy Awards, being honored for Best New Age Album for his record Grace.

“It was so awesome. I was just floating on air,” says Mr. Avgerinos, 58. “There was so much love and support for the work that I’m doing.”

Mr. Avgerinos, who studied double bass at Peabody, dabbled in ambient music in his 20s while he explored other genres, such as classical and jazz. As his spiritual life began to awaken, he says, he became more passionate about making music that reflected his inner life.

By 1987, his music career had evolved such that, he says, “I realized I needed to build a recording studio.” Over the next decade, he made that dream a reality in his Redding, Conn., home as he created Studio Unicorn. During that time, he was beginning to release his New Age recordings on small labels, and eventually on his own label.

“It helped tremendously that the genre was exploding,” he says, with artists like Enya and fellow Peabody alumnus Michael Hedges (BM ’80, Composition) — who Mr. Avgerinos says was a big inspiration to him — selling a lot of records. Mr. Avgerinos was also fortunate enough to get airplay on syndicated public radio programs like Echoes and Hearts of Space, which featured ambient and New Age artists. He now has 25 studio albums in his catalog and a 2014 Grammy nomination, in addition to the recent win.

Mr. Avgerinos’ 35-year career has been marked by an intense desire to make his living as a musician and a willingness to be flexible, creative, and pragmatic in figuring out how to do so. “When I was at Peabody, I was so passionate,” he says. “When I graduated, I just wanted to be principal bassist at a major philharmonic. And at age 22, I had that job, with the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra.”

But he felt he would eventually become bored with that life, he says, so he diversified. “I played jazz, classical, whatever gigs I could get. I just wanted to be in music,” he says. He has performed with the Beaux Arts Trio, Isaac Stern, and Buddy Rich, among other greats.

As part of his studio operation, Mr. Avgerinos maintains a library of music selections for TV and movie soundtracks. His company has provided music for the Super Bowl, NBA games, TV series, and feature films. “In the old days, shows would hire composers. This is how it’s done now,” he says. “Even big-budget shows will use library music, and yet it sounds like custom scoring.” He also produces audiobooks from his studio.

“It’s all about adaptability. You’ve got to learn a new way,” he says. “My mantra of how to function in the music business is to be as adaptable and flexible as I can.”


— Christine Stutz