Tunes of Glory

Zak Pachiyannakis, Founder and General Manager of Tunes Trading and Services, shares, albeit reluctantly, his foray into the business of musical instruments

It was the chance purchase of an extra piano that helped fine-tune Zak Pachiyannakis penchant for classical music and establish his business venture, which has, since grown into a stronghold of music in Muscat. From a humble store in Qurum, Tunes and its outlets have taken Muscat’s music scene to new levels, providing avenues for aficionados to buy quality products and learn instruments, even unique ones like Oboe, Double Bass and Clarinet.

But getting the self-effacing Zak to talk about his achievements isn’t an easy chore. ‘I-don’t-like-to-talk-about-myself’ is his constant refrain, as we sit facing an impressive array of musical instruments at his main Tunes Centre in Al Khuwair.

His tryst with music can be traced to the 80s, when his search for a music school for his children ended in disappointment. On a whim, he purchased three acoustic pianos from the manufacturer, as the private music teacher expressed his difficulty in teaching piano on a regular keyboard. Of the three, one stayed at home, a friend picked one, and the third found a buyer. “I liked the outcome, and so I went ahead and ordered eight more,” he quips.

The pianos, packed in individual cartons, were put in the corridor of his house, four on each side. “They were big and bulky and my wife was complaining,” he states, with a grin, adding that it left him with no choice but to open a shop. And thus began Tunes…

The year was 1991. Around this time, there were a lot of local musicians who were doing their purchase of instruments from the neighbouring Dubai and his store soon became the focal point for musicians of different ilk. He catered to their demands by widening the range of products at affordable prices and incorporating products that weren’t available in UAE too. “My first customers were all Omanis,” he recalls, pointing out that there were over 40 Omani live bands during that time.

Zak followed this venture by opening the Classic Music and Arts school to train interested music students and is proud that he could make success without having a business acumen or musical proficiency. At present, he has four branches – Tunes and Guitar Centre in Al Khuwair, Music Souq in Qurum, and the recently opened branch in Ruwi ( Rex road area), which is catering to the large student community in the vicinity. The main Tunes showroom in Al Khuwair is a large 400sqm facility, structured to international standards. “To grow so immensely in such a small market is indeed an achievement,” he admits, albeit grudgingly, as he hastens to add that ‘unfortunately’, he does ‘not have any musical talent’.

But the supportive presence of his musically gifted daughter Thanae at the Tunes Showroom, helped coax him to share his love for classical music, which shaped his early years. “As a teenager, I used to go regularly to the opera house in Athens and symphonic performances, which, I know, was very unusual for a teenager to follow,” states Zak, a native of Piraeus in Greece.

He also made an unsuccessful attempt to learn piano when he was around 12years old, travelling for an hour by bus to central Athens, as there were no music schools in his neighbourhood. His love of classical music, however, grew unhindered and, in a way, got influenced by the creative family he grew up in– his brother played the harmonica, while his father, a police officer by profession, was an established amateur Hagiographer (a painter of icons).

Zak was one of the first Greeks in Oman, when he travelled here with his Omani wife. They had met while studying in a catering college in London and had planned to settle in Greece, where the hotel industry was booming, following a brief detour to Oman. But fate, as they say, had other plans…

Oman soon became home, although Greece was beckoning. In the initial days it took 15 days to get hold of a Greek newspaper and telephone calls were expensive, but with Internet and television bridging the gap, things have eased considerably, he notes.

Today, he is a proud businessman, a husband and a father. Thanae his youngest daughter, who runs the two music schools – Classic in Qurum and Play Tunes in Al Hail, has established a name for herself in the musical horizon of Muscat and has chartered her career as a vocalist and events manager. Two of her siblings have taken up medicine, while one is an engineer.

Zak Pachiyannakis with his daughter Thanae

Up Close & Personal With ZAK PACHIYANNAKIS

 

The home I grew up in…

Was in Piraeus, the port of Athens.

When I was a child I wanted to…

Be a baritone singer. (Thanae recalls him singing in operatic tones, as he dropped and picked them from the school). I used to put a lot of classical pieces in this 20 minutes trip to the school. (‘I try to sing them now and I realise the lyrics were so wrong’ quips Thanae, to which Zak responds: ‘But the tune was correct…the lyrics were my own – converted from Greek.’)

The moment that changed me forever…

I would say purchase of the three pianos. People change their original job, on average, three times. I wanted to be a math teacher but instead I studied hotel management, as I did not manage to get math as my first choice in the university; however I did COBOL programming in the UK, but, accidentally, music happened…

My hero…

Hercules. My love for ancient Greece and its rich history is unending.

If I could change one thing about myself…

May be become healthier.

I dream of…

Retiring in a small village in Crete.

What I see when I look in the mirror…

That time has passed by so quickly.

You may not know it but I’m no good at…

Playing a musical instrument.

You may not know it but I’m very good at…

Mathematics.

My house is…

A simple abode in Qurum.

My favourite haunt/holiday destination…

The island of Crete.

My favourite weekend spot in Oman…

Al Shatti Qurum. In recent times, the Greek café in Gubrah called ‘Greek Way’.

Things I like about Oman…

Omani hospitality, the sea, the mountains, the desert and the roads.

A book that changed me…

Socrates’ Apology! Everyone should read this book.

On top of my wish/bucket list is…

Nostos… (In Homer’s Odyssey, there is this word ‘nostos’, which describes Ulysses yearning to return home.)

In 10 years’ time, I hope to be…

Alive.

 

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