TELEGRAM & GAZETTE (Massachusetts) January 29, 2005
Yanni brings the world to Worcester
Nancy Sheehan; TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
It was Yanni and a Yalangi.
New Age musical maestro Yanni's Ethnicity Tour is true to its name. He has gathered not only rhythms, folk melodies as compositional elements over the years spent relentlessly touring the globe as a top-grossing performer with a worldwide fan base. He has gathered people from far and wide as well.
The 25-member band that appeared with Yanni at the DCU Center Thursday night was more than mere accompaniment for the piano-playing superstar, who is almost as famous for his long, breeze-catching black mane as for his music. They were all virtuosos in their own right and Yanni seemed to delight in showcasing their varied and considerable talents. They ranged from Sayaka Katsuki, a classically trained Japanese violinist who could hold her own in the most formal of concert halls, to David Hudson, of the aboriginal Western Yalangi people of the northeast coast of Australia. The haunting notes of Hudson's didgeridoo playing and his wild-eyed dancing gave an invigorating, primal edge to some of the more traditionally orchestrated pieces.
The deft co-mingling of musical styles and the razor-sharp execution of Yanni's richly textured pieces made for a lively show. Yes, we know "lively" goes against the grain of what non-Yanni fans have heard about the guy and all the jokes: "Dentist to patient: What do you want, Novocain or Yanni?" Hudson appearing in the dentist's office in full aboriginal dress would hardly have a somnambulant effect, however.
So it wasn't just "The Yanni Show," although the compact, gym-trimmed Greek-born composer/performer, who now lives in Florida, is handsome and charismatic enough to draw attention and applause just by standing there and smiling, which he did a lot. And he also would sit once in a while at his shiny Yamaha grand piano and play the instrumental pieces, such as "Keys to Imagination," that brought him to stardom. (His fame was further fanned by a nine-year relationship with former "Dynasty" diva Linda Evans, which provided endless tabloid photo fodder.)
"Until the Last Moment" was Yanni at the Yamaha with Armenian violinist Samvel Yervinyan playing a gypsy violin that was perfectly plaintive and redolent of the Russian steppes. The show took flight with "Nightingale." Inspired by a little bird, it is a very BIG song, musically and by any other measure. The piece is known to millions who have watched Yanni's 1997 concert in the Forbidden City, which PBS airs over and over. ... and over and over.
In Thursday night's version, the Chinese flute part was played by Pedro Eustache, an enormously talented world-music woodwind and sax player from Venezuela. His Chinese flute sounds soared like the Nightingale they were meant to evoke and brought to the song the required expansive tone that seems big enough to span the world and reach the ears of everyone. This would be what composer Yanni had intended. He may be diminutive, but he doesn't think small. Another of his hits is called "Ode to Humanity (Aria)," another song through which he tries to embrace us one and all. He did, at least, succeed in reaching most all of us at the DCU, with its disappointing crowd of about 4,000, through the glorious operatic vocals of Michele Amato and Alfreda Gerald.
An example of the eclectic and ethnic virtuosity that stoked things all night on the stage is Eustache's resume: He studied classical music in Paris, jazz in America, Indian classical in India, and Armenian music. He has played, toured, recorded and/or worked with artists such as Alex Acuna, Shakira, James Newton, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Don Henley, Brenda Russel, Googoosh, Youssou N'Dour and has worked with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, the California Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and the Prague Symphony Orchestra, among others.
The audience wasn't about to let that kind of talent pack it in early. Encore highlights included "Niki Nana," a song laced with agile vocals and a rolling tribal beat that could sweep the whole world up into one joyous party. Yanni's music is always an open invitation for that.
I totally agree with this article. I was at that concert in the 4th row and I was totally blown away by the diversity of the high-energy music - much different than what I am used to when attending a Yanni concert. I TOTALLY ENJOYED IT!!! You could tell the musicians were also having a great time, and Yanni? well..... Yanni was just fabulous!!! He seemed really relaxed and enjoying himself
Keep up the GREAT work Yanni, I can't wait to hear more of this kind of music. Also, I can't wait for the new DVD to come out. GREAT MUSIC YANNI!!!
*********************** A long-time Yanni fan, Ann