New Age musician returns to wanting to give 'his best'
The king of dramatic outdoor concert spectacles is coming to play in New Mexico.
And if you're worried that Yanni will give less of show because the concert is at Albuquerque's Tingley Coliseum instead of the Acropolis or the Taj Mahal, relax.
"I work as hard to play in front of 400 people as I do in front of 100,000," said the famed New Age performer by phone from his Florida home and studio. "Whenever I get on stage this instinct takes over and I want to give my best."
If he had to pick, though, Yanni says performing at the Acropolis in his native Greece was the apex of his career.
"Performing at the Acropolis -- that was a lifelong dream that really made it one of the highlights of my life." Concerts at the Taj Mahal in India and China's Forbidden City were also challenging, he said.
"There was (a televised show) in India that made me really nervous because I was going on live in front of 150 million people. I'm a pretty cool customer most of the time, but I didn't really want to talk to anyone right before I went onstage."
Yanni's last appearance in Albuquerque was in 1998. This time around, Yanni will perform songs from his latest album, "Ethnicity," a CD full of world beats that emphasize his oft-stated belief in "one world, one people."
The charismatic performer was born Yanni Chisomallis in 1954 in Kalamata, Greece, and became his country's national 50-meter swimming champ at age 14. He later came to the United States and graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he played keyboards with the rock group Chameleon.
Gradually the self-taught musician began to develop a solo keyboard style, combining sweeping New Age rythmns with influences from all over the world. His music -- and his ability to pull off huge, orchestral concerts in some of the world's most beautiful places -- won him worldwide fame.
Yanni's music has been used to score some of the world's biggest televised sports events and his televised concerts draw huge PBS audiences.
The performer also gained attention for his nine-year relationship with actress Linda Evans.
Citing burnout, Yanni stepped away from performing in 1998 and didn't return until last year.
"It was a dark time in my life," he said by phone. "I never even played the piano for a whole year. But it was the right thing to do. It was a tough time, but it makes you better, and I don't even look back now."
In 2002, during his hiatus, he became an author with the publication of the refreshingly candid autobiography "Yanni in Words," in which he talks about his upbringing and about his family, which still lives in Greece.
"I wrote the book to show people how ordinary I was, and on many occasions, how dumb I was," he laughed.
Yanni credits his father and the skills he developed as an athlete with helping him achieve worldwide success.
"Maybe because I was an athlete, and I understood what it was to overcome pain," he said by phone.
If you go
WHAT: Yanni's "Ethnicity World Tour"
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3
WHERE: Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico (state fairgrounds)
HOW MUCH: Tickets are $35 and $55 through Ticketmaster at 883-7800 or online at ticketmaster.com
CORRECTION-DATE: March 1, 2004
An incorrect date for Yanni's only "Ethnicity World Tour" concert in Albuquerque was published in the Sunday Journal. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico.
the book is fun for all us fans to read....a bit silly ,a bit serious....a bit educational....just what most of our real lifes are too...it comes from someone who we admire and that makes it a Great Gift to all of us.
ordinary, but determinant to be ....extraordinary I would say.