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Yanni

Yanni

Yiannis Chryssomallis (Greek: G?????? ???s?µ?????, Giánnis Chrysomállis; born November 14, 1954), known professionally as Yanni (/'j??ni/ YAH-nee), is a Greek pianist, keyboardist, composer, and music producer who has spent his adult life in the United States.Yanni continues to use the musical shorthand that he developed as a child, blending jazz, classical, soft rock, and world music to create predominantly instrumental works. As this genre of music was not well suited for commercial pop radio and music television, Yanni achieved international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that were broadcast on public television. His breakthrough concert, Yanni Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music video of all time. Additional historic sites for Yanni's concerts have included India's Taj Mahal, China's Forbidden City, the United Arab Emirates' Burj Khalifa, Russia's Kremlin, Puerto Rico's El Morro castle, and Lebanon's ancient city of Byblos.At least fourteen of Yanni's albums have peaked at No. 1 in Billboard's "Top New Age Album" category, and two albums (Dare to Dream and In My Time) received Grammy nominations. Through late 2011, Yanni had performed live in concert before more than two million people in more than 20 countries around the world, and has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies. A longtime fundraiser for public television, Yanni's compositions have been used on commercial television programs, especially for sporting events such as the Tour de France, World Figure Skating Championships, U. S. Open Tennis Championships, U. S. Open Golf Championships, and Olympic Games. He has written film scores and the music for an award-winning British Airways television commercial.Yanni has employed musicians of various nationalities and has incorporated a variety of exotic instruments to create music that has been called an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds. Influenced by his encounters with cultures around the world, his music is said to reflect his “one world, one people” philosophy.Musical InfluencesFrom childhood, Yanni accepted a wide variety of musical styles, listening to radio stations from Northern Africa, Arab countries, and Europe. He observed that "there were no rock stations or classical stations--each station would just play everything." Yanni's music has been said to reflect his encounters with cultures around the world and embody his philosophy of “one world, one people.” In this vein, Booth Newspapers' Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk perceived the eclectic inspirations of Yanni's music to be an element of his success: Yanni's "Middle Eastern and Oriental scales and mixed meters sound just exotic enough to entice his middle-of-the-road fans, but not so authentic as to mystify folks who grew up with a backbeat, so you can’t lose it," adding that certain songs "leave you with a sense that you’ve just heard a bit of a steel drum or a Greek bouzouki or a Japanese koto or possibly all three."Yanni's musical influences include music from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as classical, rock and roll, and electronic music. Yanni explained that the 1970s, with its new technology and electronic instruments, were particularly influential at that stage in his career, and that even recently his Truth Of Touch album (2011) was started by experimenting with new sound designs. Having been exposed to classical music very early in life—listening to Bach at age 8—he counts several classical pianists and composers among his influences, citing Beethoven as a favorite and Chopin as "No. 2 favorite." Yanni mentioned being influenced not only by classical composers like Mozart and Bach, but also rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin, the People!, and Black Sabbath.Yanni explained that "the most influence I’ve ever had from music was doing (soundtracks for) movies, ... mostly instrumental music," mentioning his love for the work of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. The Augusta Chronicle's Kelly Jasper noted that most of Yanni's music is instrumental, indicating that Yanni surmised that the lack of lyrics is what allowed his music to become popular internationally. Yanni went on to say, "There are no lyrics in my music for the most part, so the whole message is transmitted through the rhythm, melody, and sounds, and I think that has to do with crossing all the borders and being able to go to different countries.” "It is very difficult, if not impossible, to lie with instrumental music because it deals in emotions only." He has also said that words operate in a different area of the brain, and lyrics "tend to put a song into a box."However, Yanni performed with four vocalists in the forefront in Yanni Voices (2008-2009), and performed with two vocalists on tours (2010-2012) and in the Yanni Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico concerts (December 2011) and CD/DVD (2012). In late 2011 Yanni remarked that he tends to prefer instrumental music "because it's more open, but the human voice too can be the most expressive instrument known to man. There is power to it." Referring to his creative experiences on the 2009 Voices project, Yanni explained that "while most of the music I write is instrumental, I love to use the human voice as another instrument."Music genres distinguished from the "New Age" spiritual movementWhile Yanni has said New Age is "a spiritual definition more than a musical definition," his music has been said to be "adopted by" the New Age movement as it gained mainstream momentum. His music is also called contemporary instrumental and has been described as "an instrumental blend of fusion-jazz, world music, classical, and soft rock." However, at least as early as 1988, Yanni was said to shun labels such as "Greek" and "New Age," emphasizing that "when someone says new age music, I think of something that you put on in the background while you're vacuuming the house. I don't want to relax the audience; I want to engage them in the music, get them interested." Distinguishing his work from what others have called ambient mood music, Yanni pointed out in 1994: "New Age implies a more subdued, more relaxed music than what I do. My music can be very rhythmic, very energetic, even very ethnic."In 2012, Yanni remarked that he has never liked putting art into categories or assigning labels, adding that he always composed music "to honestly reflect the lessons learned and the experiences I have shared throughout my life." For example, Yanni's university study of psychology influenced his music: “When I create music, it is a reflection of my soul, my experiences in life and my relationships with other people and cultures. Psychology, and understanding who we are as people in this world, is present in almost every creative thought I have."Unconventional career trackThe genre of Yanni's music made it unsuitable for most commercial radio or for music television. In 2012 Yanni expressed the importance of PBS to his career, saying that the network "always allowed me to present my music without any censorship or influence, and encouraged me to be the artist that I am," and had been "a great part of my career for over 20 years."Yanni took an unconventional path to recognition, for example, by risking his personal fortune to fund historic-monument events such as his 1993 Acropolis concerts, by producing specials on public television, by creating alone in his home-built studio, and by performing many of his own production duties—thus by-passing the conventional music industry. In 2000, The Los Angeles Times' Don Heckman wrote that Yanni was "a living metaphor for Success on Your Own Terms, the dream of every American with an idea that is either ridiculed or ignored."MusicIn an early-career review in the Dallas Times Herald in the late 1980s, Yanni's concert with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was described as "exhilarating, moving and inspiring." In 1995, The Los Angeles Times' Don Heckman wrote that Yanni's music is "based on sweeping romantic melodies underscored with energetic Mediterranean rhythms." More analytically, the Hartford Courant's Steve Metcalf "deconstructed" Yanni's music as being "from a harmonic standpoint, constructed of materials found in a lot of late-19th, early 20th century classical music. It is essentially tonal, tinged with mild whiffs of dissonance here and there, sometimes rhythmically frisky, graspable on first listening, and self-evidently mood-inducing. There are two basic moods to Yanni music: struttingly heroic with martial overtones, and dreamily contemplative. ... A kind of peaceful, easy-feeling link between pop music and classical music."More recently, Allmusic's Mark Deming characterized Yanni's compositions and performances as having "a pronounced sense of drama, dynamics, and romanticism," writing that Yanni has a "commanding performance style." In 2012 Howie Grapek remarked in The Palm Beach Post's PBPulse that "there are few modern-day composers with a unique sense of music and style which is truly their own. To compare new-age music with classic rock is a stretch, but for Yanni, it is possible. This Greek composer marries contemporary new-age spirituality with today’s pop attitudes and delivers a unique sound." Yanni has employed musicians of various nationalities, and has incorporated a variety of exotic instruments from around the world from an Australian didgeridoo to a Peruvian charango, to perform with his classical orchestra, rock rhythm section, and electronic keyboards. His music has been described as "an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds, from Native American chants to African rhythms and Asian harmonies."The Morning Call's John L. Moser wrote that "trends come and trends go," but that Yanni's music "seems to defy trends and... feels like it’s music for all time." Moser interviewed the composer, asking if he intentionally tries to create "something that’s going to last forever as opposed to something that’s just going to sell 1 million copies right away," Yanni replied that "There’s no way you can create art to last forever... so you can’t have that in your mind." Instead, describing his creative process, Yanni explained that his knowledge of music and instruments and his experience in different cultures is a "primordial soup that comes together and it shows itself and it appears. And it’s fluid. It’s effortless."Yanni's popularity with the public and his success on public television have contrasted sharply with views of some critics. The more extreme criticisms have been paraphrased as characterizing Yanni as a "no-talent poseur" whose music has little intellectual weight, while his fans' opinions have been paraphrased as calling Yanni a "highly original artist whose profound spirituality has created a unique kind of music."Continuing to use the "musical shorthand" that he developed as a child rather than employing traditional musical notation, Yanni hires someone to perform the tedious process of making conventional written charts for orchestra members. Even so, since music is an auditory domain, Yanni must train the musicians in what cannot be conveyed in that writing.ConcertsThe Palm Beach Post's Howie Grapek remarked about an April 2012 performance that the show was not a one-man keyboard show, but spotlighted individual long solos showcasing the band members' talents, and that Yanni "loves giving them the opportunity to shine individually." Booth Newspapers' Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk commented that Yanni "has great sidemen – always has."Yanni’s concerts are known for their lighting and other technical aspects. Yanni's longtime lighting designer remarked in 2013 that the lighting is critically timed to Yanni's music itself, accommodating its variety of time signatures, further observing that since Yanni plays mostly theatrical venues rather than arenas, the lighting can include subtle moves and color. The lighting also emphasizes band members' solos, as well as specific moments in the concerts.Commenting on Yanni's "great lighting" on the stage and "plenty of reverb in the audience," Booth Newspapers' Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk remarked that a Yanni concert "can be an intoxicating experience."Honors, awards and distinctionsIn addition to performing at historic venues such as Royal Albert Hall (London; 1995), Yanni has been permitted to perform at such world landmarks as the Acropolis of Athens (Greece; 1993), the Taj Mahal (Agra, India; 1997), the Forbidden City (Beijing, China; 1997), the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 2011), the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia; 2011), the Castillo San Felipe del Morro ("El Morro" UNESCO World Heritage Site, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S. territory; 2011), and the ancient city of Byblos (UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lebanon; 2013).Rising in popularity with the new age music boom of the 1980s and 1990s, Yanni's music became more well known through adult alternative radio airplay, appearances on public television and in television commercials, as well as international music tours. Yanni's music has been used in television shows and televised sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Wide World of Sports, U.S. Open, Tour de France, the World Figure Skating Championships and the Olympic Games. He wrote music for ABC's World News Now.Yanni's "Acroyali/Standing in Motion" was determined to have the "Mozart effect" by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (April 2001) because the composition is similar to Mozart's K 448 in tempo, structure, melodic and harmonic consonance and predictability, characteristics thought to decrease seizure activity and to enhance spatial-temporal performance."During Yanni's October 2011 tour of China, Yanni became the first Western artist to be invited to adopt a giant panda (bear) cub at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a "privilege... usually reserved for countries rather than personalities." "Officials from the research base invited the musician to adopt the animal, saying their decision was made from the inspiration and harmony that derives from his music." Yanni named the panda "Santorini," also the name of a Greek island, explaining that the Greek word irini means 'peace'."In February 2013, Yanni and Celine Dion were the first non-Chinese artists invited to perform (separately) in China at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, a CCTV televised event with an annual audience of 700 million.Billboard named Yanni No. 5 "New Age Album Artist" of 2012. He was named to the same list in 2011 (ranked No. 1), 2010 (No. 4), 2009 (No. 3), 2007 (No. 4), and 2006 (No. 4).Yanni's albums Dare to Dream (1992) and In My Time (1993) received Grammy Award nominations for Best New Age Album."The PBS specials Yanni Live at the Acropolis and Tribute received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Series, Miniseries, Movie or Special, in 1994 and 1998, respectively.Fifteen Yanni albums peaked at No. 1 in Billboard's "Top New Age Album" category. Also, Live at the Acropolis (1994) peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200; Live: The Concert Event (2006) peaked at No. 6 in Billboard's Top Independent Albums category; and Voices [Bonus Tracks\] (2009) peaked at No. 5 in Billboard's Latin Pop Album category.In addition to earning a B.A. in psychology in 1976 from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Yanni received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the same institution on May 6, 2004.Charitable activitiesYanni has had a collaborative relationship with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in its fundraising efforts since the early years of his career, reportedly raising more than $13 million for that organization. The Yanni Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico production (2012) was Yanni's tenth collaboration with PBS.To assist the conservation efforts the World Wide Fund for Nature (the World Wildlife Fund, WWF), Yanni sponsored a symbolic "Panda Adoption Kit" program in which he guaranteed $50,000 in donations.AutobiographyYanni's autobiography, Yanni in Words, co-authored by David Rensin, was published in February 2003, coinciding with the release of his Ethnicity album. The book became a New York Times best seller in the nonfiction category on March 2, 2003.

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