Popular pianist Yanni brings his symphonic world music to Kansas Coliseum today.
Fri, Mar. 12, 2004
BY CHRIS SHULL
The Wichita Eagle
Yanni is really a regular guy. He's an international musical star; his long dark hair and smoldering eyes make fans swoon. His live performances -- and CDs, and television specials -- from the Acropolis, the Forbidden City and the Taj Mahal have thrilled millions. He dated TV actress Linda Evans.
And he'll perform today at the Kansas Coliseum, his piano backed by a full orchestra, exotic instruments and eight semi trucks full of lighting, sound and video projection equipment.
But for someone known around the globe by his first name, Yanni -- full name Yiannis Chryssomallis, born in Kalamata, Greece -- really is down to earth.
During an interview in January, Yanni talked about his music without airs or attitude.
"I like to just go in and have fun with music," Yanni said. "This way I can hear the desires inside me; I can hear the inner voice."
Music is Yanni's ticket to explore the world. Many of the songs he will play tonight come from his latest album, "Ethnicity," which features non-Western instruments mixed in with keyboards, percussion, voices and violins.
"The more diversity of musical instrumentation on that stage, the happier I get," Yanni said. "The more colors you have access to, the better off you are."
The exotic instruments act as postcards from Yanni's world tours.
"I spend time with the locals; I try to connect with them," Yanni said. "If they feel compelled to show me their local music and their instruments, I take the time and listen.
"All these sounds go inside me and stay there. You never forget the first time you hear a didgeridoo, or some Chinese instrument in Beijing, or the Armenian duduk (like an oboe), which is quite haunting and very beautiful. It's a heart-tugger --and it's ancient. I mean, these things have been around for 3,000 years.
"All that is inside me. So when it is time for me to express an emotion, I remember what the duduk did to me when I first heard it."
Despite his immense success, Yanni still thrives on playing his music for audiences night after night.
"There is no substitute for walking on a stage in front of thousands of people," Yanni said. "It is a high; it is a rush. It is a moment in time when everything else goes away. If you are sick or if you have a headache or if your back hurts or whatever it is, it goes away. You don't even feel it."
You didn't post the review that was printer Saturday morning by the Eagle: ------------------------------------ Yanni successfully fuses rock 'n' roll with orchestral New Age
BY CHRIS SHULL
The Wichita Eagle
You've got to hand it to Yanni.
The pianist-composer-international superstar is the only person around who isn't shy about combining an orchestra and a rock show. He did it with great success Friday night at the Kansas Coliseum, when 4,500 people came to hear his unique kind of instrumental soul.
In two hour-long sets, Yanni presented his hits old and new. There was the soaring, opera-y "Aria," the tune used in a commercial years ago by British Airways that signaled his ascent to stardom; songs first recorded at his famous concert at the Acropolis in Greece, and new music from his latest album, "Ethnicity."
Old or new, each of Yanni's songs followed a familiar pattern. Each mixed frenetic dance club electronica overlaid with strings and halfway jazzy acoustic violin or soprano sax. Brassy punch-chords accentuated the rock 'n' roll beat while Yanni conducted symphonically, long brown hair waving.
His tight black leather pants and long-sleeved black sweater kept up rock concert appearances, while his tasteful piano solos screamed New Age.
It would all be elevator music if not for the real nuance Yanni threw into his orchestral arrangements. It was not just a combination of thumping bass and catchy drums and soaring strings. Yanni's style adds to the mix with world music instruments such as the Australian didgeridoo, the Bohemian cymbalum, wood flutes and harps.
His style at times echoed Spanish flamenco or tangy music from Arabic. It was usually on the sad side, but never heavy; Yanni's music recalls moonlight, not midnight.
But two backup singers never strayed far from good old R&B, and violin soloist Karen Briggs kept things anchored in the blues. Each instrument in the orchestra of strings, brass and percussion had its moment in the fore, adding to the exciting eclecticism of the evening.
The audience loved it; each tune ended with a surge of applause, and Yanni basked in it. Not like a stuck-up star, but like he was genuinely appreciative that folks came out to hear him.
That, along with his music, is the secret to Yanni's success. He came off as honest and real, never phony. He projected a shyness even to the back of the Coliseum.
That, and absolutely top-notch concert production -- lights pulsing colors to the beat, giant video screens getting you up close to the musicians, perfect balance between the instruments -- are what sold Yanni to the world, and what sold him to an appreciative crowd Friday night.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reach Chris Shull at 268-6264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.