Tom Bopp has made his living as an entertainer since 1982, performing a wide range of piano and vocal music. In spring of 1983, Tom signed on at the historic Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, and continues to perform there nightly in the hotel’s piano parlor.
Born in southern California (1957) and raised in Torrance, Tom was introduced to the keyboard by his older brother Steve, who taught him how to play Chopsticks on their parents’ newly acquired fifty-dollar upright piano. After his mother introduced him to Heart And Soul, Tom became unstoppable in his tireless by-ear renderings of popular tunes such as Georgie Girl, Summertime, and Linus and Lucy.
After four years of this, at age 11, Tom was persuaded to begin piano lessons. Laura Lee Lukas, Tom’s teacher for the next 10 years, had studied with Edward Kilenyi, Louis Kentnor, and Wager Swayne. The latter had been a pupil of the great pedagogue, Theodor Leschitizsky, who had studied with Czerny, who had studied with Beethoven. Tom is proud of this heritage, but is careful not to make any claims by it. Additionally, Tom learned to play the trombone in the public schools, and in junior college pursued the study of his weakest subject, music theory, going so far as to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in theory and composition.
After settling into a career as a piano technician (tuning and rebuilding), Tom received an irresistible offer to play piano at a soon-to-open novelty restaurant called JoAnne’s Chili Bordello (their motto: 17 varieties of chili served in an atmosphere of sin), in November of 1982. Tom claims it was there that he learned all the basics about performing for the public. In the spring of 1983, Tom was invited to play for just one week at the Wawona Hotel; it was extended to a second week, during which he was invited to stay on as full-time musician. He’s been there ever since.
Tom’s repertoire is an eclectic but by no means comprehensive mélange, representing his shifting tastes in music, or as he puts it, a short attention-span. While he is apt to perform anything from Celtic folk music to, as he calls it, neurotic jazz, Tom generally tries to coordinate his offerings with the feeling of the room, but somehow usually manages to segue into popular music from the first 50 years of the 20th century. Whether he’s performing cabaret songs, antique salon music, cowboy ditties, leftovers from long-ago classical piano lessons, Depression-era tunes, or ragtime, spontaneity is the thing Tom likes best.
Tom makes his home in Fish Camp, California, with his wife, Diane, and three cats. His wife, Diane Detrick Bopp, taught art for 13 years at Beverly Hills High School before marrying Tom in 1994. Tom’s hobbies include composing (on his computer), wandering aimlessly, and delving into endless time-consuming Projects.
In April, 2005 Tom provided the entertainment for a small dinner party that included Vice President and Mrs. Cheney (Tom wishes to point out that respect for the office does not imply an endorsement of policy).
In January, 2006 Tom was honored by his employer, Delaware North Corporations, with the newly created Legacy Award of Service Excellence. Out of some 40,000 worldwide associates, only seven received the award -- one for each of DNC's seven divisions -- of which Tom represents Parks & Resorts. The award was presented at DNC's Spirit Of Vision Awards Gala in Orlando.
On December 17, 2008, Tom was awarded the annual Yosemite Fund Award "in recognition of the significant effort he has made to enhance the value of Yosemite National Park as a national treasure."
Tom’s eclectic tastes are represented on five CDs available on the internet at YosemiteMusic.com. His first movie, "Vintage Songs Of Yosemite - The DVD" is based on his multi-media performances by the same title, presenting the first century of the Yosemite Experience through vintage music, stories, art, photography, and the only complete iteration of the Fire Fall on film. In addition to nightly performances at the Wawona Hotel, Tom performs winters at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel and at various fund-raising concerts and private functions. He also performs annual public concerts at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California. Tom can be contacted via his web page at YosemiteMusic.com