by Elizabeth Erenberg
In 2005, 18-year-old Peter Bottros found himself sitting at a grand piano for the first time. The instrument lived in the corner of a common room at Pennsylvania State University in York, Pennsylvania, where Peter was a freshman. Peter came back to this piano often, and figured out melodies of songs he knew. He then discovered patterns and chords, which led to improvising.
“Music just kind of started coming out,” he says.
Those dream-like improvisations turned into original compositions. The hobby soon grew into a frenzied passion. He skipped classes in order to practice. Friends and professors eventually caught word, and gathered around to listen.
Peter graduated with a degree in Business and Marketing but knew that music was his true calling. He worked several jobs in both Pennsylvania and New York City to fund his dream of being a professional musician. Playing opportunities were hard to come by. There were times he’d sleep in his car en route to faraway locations for unpaid gigs. His parents, who several years prior had brought him to the US from Egypt in pursuit of success, were reluctant to encourage him on such an unstable path.
As it turns out, Peter’s immigration from Egypt is the heartbeat of this story. The challenges of being a ten-year-old in a new country, learning English, settling into a new culture, and helping his parents to make ends meet have all prepared him for being a musician.
In November 2016, twenty years after moving to America, Peter made his debut performance to a sold out crowd at his alma mater’s state-of-the-art 1,000 seat concert hall. The show featured songs he wrote from his album Shine, accompanied by a 10-piece ensemble and various other local musicians in York. From the stage, he spoke about his story of immigrating to America from Egypt as a child, tailoring it especially to York’s youth population, who made up a large portion of the audience.
“I want to inspire and motivate the future generation, and change their mindset to believing in their gifts and potential,” he says.
Peter left the concert hall that night with an Honorary Doctorate and his parents’ full-hearted approval.
“Today is the day that we totally respect what you do,” his parents said.
Peter is now gearing up for Round Two on July 7th event in York’s most prominent and historic venue, the Strand Theater at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts. It is then that Peter plans to publicly launch The Shine Foundation, his new nonprofit that brings music education into inner city schools who have either lost or never had music programs.
Though he is a passionate advocate for music education, Peter believes that his self-taught approach is actually the reason for his success.
“Learning is good,” he said. “That said, school works for some people, but not for everybody.”
As for using his business and marketing skills, Peter estimates that about 90% of his music career is business, and 10% of it is creating art.
“You really have to treat it as a business,” he says. “That’s the only way it will work.”
Peter is inspired by figures like Yanni, whose musical style has influenced his own. He envisions a future of touring the world (while always coming home to York, PA), playing in major concert halls, composing, and recording.
Above all though, Peter wants to be a role model for young people, inspiring them to choose positivity, to believe themselves, and to never give up on their dreams.
He practices what he preaches each time he sits down at the keyboard. For anyone looking to follow a dream, Peter summed up his advice in three simple words.
“Be all in.”
Click here to purchase tickets to his 7/7/17 performance in York, Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Peter Bottros and listen to his music, visit his Facebook page.
Stay tuned to learn more about The Shine Foundation, which launches on 7/7/17.