A world of difference; Global musicmaker Yanni is back after a hiatus By Rex Rutkoski Weekender Correspondent
Yanni assures that he feels fresh again. That information is certain to be received by his devoted fans, who have made the two-time Grammy nominee a multi-platinum seller worldwide, with enthusiasm. After all, it is those admirers who long have been drawn to what they believe is the Greek-born artist's fresh take on instrumental music presented with a world view. It was Yanni's seemingly singular devotion to his art, though, that thrust him to the brink of burnout. It's why he only very recently embarked on his first world tour in five years, and why he took a full year off from even touching his piano or writing any music.
"I didn't even want to think about my career. I wanted to get as far away from Yanni as I could. It was extremely important to do that. It was a scary time. I wanted to know I could enjoy life again," he explains in a telephone interview. He says he knows it is difficult for people to understand, and he is not seeking sympathy. "I'm definitely not complaining about it. But I had been going non-stop for 20 years." He put his personal life aside and concentrated on his career. "Particularly when I write, I tend to put my personal life out of the way. If I make plans and I need to stay in the studio for five more hours, I change my plans. I work on my birthday and Christmas. When the music comes I just work. You can do that for a while, but you can't for 20 years. I found my limit by exceeding it."
His journey is chronicled in his memoir, "Yanni In Words"(Miramax Books), which takes readers from his boyhood Greece, where he taught himself to play piano at the age of 6, to his current status as one of the best selling instrumental artists in the world.
While his work ethic remains strong, he is scheduling break time.
"The five years I took out was the smartest thing I ever did," he says. He told himself that even if he jeopardized his career by doing that, he had to take care of himself.
"I was in trouble. Because I took time out it healed me."
Audiences have been roaring an enthusiastic "welcome back."
"They are giving me so much energy and love I can't imagine why I left," he says, laughing.
In one sense they are seeing a new Yanni. "Hopefully when you go through difficult times and a period of pain and introspection and retrospection, I think that changes you," he says. "But it isn't like I'm unrecognizable. Hopefully I have a little more wisdom and the difference has gotten through."
He says without question the current performances are the best show he has ever done.
He plans to cover a wide variety of music.
"It is a very long concert, close to three hours with a 20 minute break. We play quite a lot of music, a lot of new material and old favorites."
The new material comes from "Ethnicity," his 13th album, which he sees as extending his "One World, One People" philosophy that has been the hallmark of his career, presenting rhythms and voices from cultures that criss-cross the globe.
"It was a very challenging album and very challenging concert to put together, with so many different musicians from around the world, so many different cultures and religions and schools of thought and schools of music," he explains. The goal was to create an ensemble that would complement each other's diversity, rather than try to force elements together.
"It ended up not being difficult at all. It came together very easily," he says.
Yanni believes that people relate to the honesty of his music.
"I don't change. I do it the way it comes out of me naturally. I try to tell the truth about what my life feels like to me, with no considerations for radio formats or MTV. The only consideration is 'Do I like it? Is it what I want to talk about?' "
He hopes the results can inspire people. "I'm an optimist. I look at life with a very positive attitude," he says. "I'm also a realist. I can see what is going on in the world. I'm aware but I'm an optimist. That is in the music. If I can alter even a single human being for the better, I've done my job."
I wonder if that interview was recent...he mentioned a 3 hour concert with intermission, which, from what I understand, is what was initially done for the first part of the last tour, but then dropped.
Thanks for sharing that article. It shows we are all human and do need time for ourselves.
I was lucky to have met you at RCMH on 1/24/05 and to tell you what a difference his music had made in my life at a time when I needed it most. It meant so much to express my gratefulness. Thank you. You are a wonderful representative for Yanni and gang. What a privilege to experience such joy and peace through his gift of music.
Yes, Yanni, you have changed a life for the better. In fact, you have changed many. You touch our heart and souls through your music. But as much as we enjoy your music and your passion for it, we also care about you. Our health is so important and so is time for ourselves. It is great to know that you are back. But give of yourself only what you can. You have created a feeling among people of caring and passion, as well as an understanding, for life. It would be wrong for us to want from you at your own personal expense. And that is not what your music is all about. The postings on this board show that. You have given us an everlasting gift. Being able to see you live is just the icing on the cake. But I do love the icing(LOL)!
Wishing you in return all the joy, peace and happiness that you have given us.
I was at this concert! Fabulous but not long enough. I don't think it was 3 hours long and I don't recall any intermission. Whatever, it ended too soon. It was a miserable night. Perhaps it ended sooner because the crew and Yanni needed to get on the road (or in the air) before the weather became worse. It was the same storm that messed up the Radio City Music Hall concerts.
chinhouse, I was also at that concert...It was probably one of the best Yanni concerts I've been too...Maybe it has something to do with getting Charlie's drumstick, and having him sign it after the concert...or maybe it was because I had the best seat in the house, I don't know...but, yes the weather was totally miserable, and I'm just glad Yanni was able to perform...I don't care how short or long it was...as long as he was there, and everyone returned back home saftely...It took me over 4 hours to get there....