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25 summers later, Yanni's music still draws listeners

Composer Yanni   | Photo Credit: Faisal Nasser

In 1993, when Yanni performed at the Acropolis, Greece, the Internet was just being born. So was the Backstreet Boys band. In the 25 years since, the world of Internet grew unrecognisably. (As did Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys!) But, even at 63, Yanni still has the long hair and lean figure from the night of September 25, 1993, I notice, as he steps on to the stage at The Mann, Philadelphia, to celebrate 25 years of Live at the Acropolis.

Dressed in white shirt and trousers, his locks softly dancing in the wind, he dreamily recounts the night at Santorini — “...a packed audience and a warm glow from the Parthenon. From where I stood, I could see my mom, dad and my sweetheart, Linda Evans,” he says. The concert changed his life, and gave rise to a cult of Yanni followers who rushed to wherever he performed — be it Taj Mahal, India, the Forbidden City, China or the Great Pyramids, Egypt.

It is reported that Yanni had used all his savings and taken one-and-a-half years to organise the Acropolis concert. It was recorded at the Herodes Atticus Theatre in Athens, with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra from London, mixed and produced at Yanni’s home studio, and aired as a television special on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1994. The sales escalated from hundreds to thousands to millions, and it went on to become the second best-selling music video of all time (the first is Michael Jackson’s Thriller).

A peek into his world

At the concert in Philadelphia, one of the first venues in his three-month tour, we listen to him play ‘The rain must fall’, amid the heavy patter of drops outside. As if to wake us from a reverie, he punctuates the end of every song with a story from his past. Slowly, over the course of two hours (though the original concert was just 70 minutes long), he lets us into his world. We finally understand his emotions behind ‘Felitsa’, a moving dedication to his mother; and the achingly beautiful ‘Until the last moment’, which was inspired by long walks with his father.

Watch him perform live on:
  • June 9: Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, California
  • June 24: Fox Theatre, St Louis, Missouri
  • June 30: Chicago Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
  • July 27: PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • July 28: Lakeview Amphitheatre, Syracuse, New York
  • August 5: Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Did you know?
  • Yanni has composed music for The US Open, Masters, Olympics and Tour de France. Listen to his latest, ‘Speed Demon’, an ode to the sport of racing.
  • The composition ‘Standing in Motion’ from Live at the Acropolis is said to have the “Mozart Effect” according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. It is similar to Mozart’s ‘K 448’, which as research suggests, can reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy and helps people with Alzheimer's function more normally.
  • Besides his tour, Yanni’s name went viral for a far different reason recently. An audio clip that split the Internet into two: those who heard Yanni and those who heard Laurel.

“I can still hear his {father’s} words. He taught me simplicity; to enjoy Nature, flowers... and live in the now.” Having grown up with such lessons, Yanni took inspiration from the little things/beings around him. One of them was a nightingale which, he says, came by his window and sang almost every day for a brief period. The song ‘Nightingale’ was composed for the Chinese flute, until Yanni found the pitch-perfect voice of Lauren Jelencovich to sing it.

In measured words, and long pauses, he tells the story of an astronaut who looks at Earth from space and finds just land and water, zero boundaries. He broaches the subject of unity, tolerance, and peace, and follows it with a gentle yet piercing ‘One Man’s Dream’ — a song that doesn’t have an end. It has remained unfinished and would continue to, he says. Just like a dream.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 1:46:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/from-acropolis-to-america-yannis-music-draws-its-own-band-of-listeners-as-was-evident-at-a-recent-concert-in-philadelphia/article24033535.ece

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