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Yanni Biography

Yanni Chryssomalis, 14 November 1954, Kalamata, Greece. One of modern instrumental music’s most distinctive and popular composers, Yanni moved to the USA in 1972 where he attended the University of Minnesota, pursuing a degree in psychology while also playing with prog-rock band Chameleon. However, he is now a naturalized US citizen based in Los Angeles, California, leaving behind his academic studies to concentrate on richly orchestrated and complex keyboard compositions - he was already a self-taught musician with perfect pitch in Greece, as well as a one-time national swimming champion, though to this day he insists he cannot ‘read’ music. His statement of intent: ‘My goal is to connect with people emotionally. I take life’s experiences and translate them into music’, though perhaps a little pompous, has resulted in albums that have developed a huge following in his adopted homeland. The best example of this, and something of a career summation, was Yanni Live At The Acropolis. Planned over two years, this concert in front of 2, 000 people in September 1993 (the first time Yanni had played live in his own country) developed an astonishing chart life when released as a double album, reaching platinum status several times over. One of the most phenomenal bestsellers of the mid-90s, it saw Yanni joined by his own band as well as the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

British Airways’ use of ‘Aria’ as part of their advertising campaign furthered his mainstream appeal, while his relationship with actress Linda Evans brought him fame in the US tabloids. Yanni: Live At The Acropolis refreshed memories of some of the artist’s most memorable compositions, including new versions of ‘Keys To Imagination’, ‘Nostalgia’, ‘The Rain Must Fall’ and ‘Reflections Of Passion’, the latter the title track to 1990’s platinum-selling album. The rationale behind the orchestral accompaniment ran thus: ‘Symphonies can generate a tremendous amount of sound, beauty and emotion. That is part of their human feel and sweetness. Keyboards... give us access to millions of sounds. When I put the two together, the result is unique, and it’s not only pleasing to the ear, but produces emotional responses that neither can achieve on their own.’ The event was broadcast throughout the USA in March 1994, a visual tour de force directed by six time Emmy-winning director, George Veras. With an international crew of more than 200 lighting, sound technicians and cameramen, it gave the whole production a visual might not seen since Jean-Michel Jarre’s populist Parisian spectacles.

Afterwards Yanni confirmed his position as one of the few artists within the new age sphere with a rock band’s appetite for touring. In 1997, he signed with Virgin Records who released Tribute, a live album recorded in India and China, the following year.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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