For Yanni, 'So Long My Friend' Is Hello Again
By Peter Goodman
STAFF WRITER; E-mail Peter Goodman at peter.goodman@news day.com.
April 6, 2003
Five years ago, after a tour involving 130 concerts in India, China and elsewhere around the world, Yanni Chryssomalis "just burned out," he said recently from Rochester, in the midst of a 57-city tour that brings him to Nassau Coliseum next Sunday. "It just beat me up pretty badly. I found my limit by exceeding it."
And so the world-famous musician and composer known as Yanni, with 12 albums and millions of record sales under his belt, walked away from it all. "It was a big surprise when it happened," he said of his personal crash. "There were warning signs. Close friends said, 'Watch out. Are you crazy?' I said I could handle it; I'd always handled it; I'd done it for 20 years."
But "life has a way of slapping you pretty hard," he said. "In retrospect, I did a very smart thing."
For the first year off, Yanni spent the time walking the mountains of Greece with his father, Sotiri, near Kalamata, his childhood hometown (known for its olives). "I really did not play the piano for a whole year.... My dad said that if [I] never wrote another song in [my] life, it wouldn't matter. [I] had done so much already as a composer.... It was the ability to let it go that much that healed me. It was the perfect thing to have done."
Then this avatar of world music began visiting favorite spots around the world - spending one or two months, not just a day and a night. And eventually, on its own, the music returned. "It started knocking on your door," he said.
Finally, in February, Yanni released his 13th album, "Ethnicity" (Virgin), and launched his first stage tour since 1998, a three-month, coast-to-coast and border-to-border journey that brings him not only to Nassau Coliseum but also to Madison Square Garden April 17.
It's still a grueling trip, six days a week, sometimes three cities in a day - wake up in one, perform in another, go on to the next. But now, at the age of 48, Yanni is more aware of himself. "I'm much more protective," he said. "But it's my pleasure. I love it. It's great to be back on stage, and with the audience. They haven't forgotten about me."
Yanni: "Ethnicity" Tour, Nassau Coliseum, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, 7:30 p.m., next Sunday. $58, $88. Call 631-888-9000, or go to www.nassaucoliseum.com.
Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m. April 17. $65-$100; 212-307-7171, or www.thegar