#ThisIsYanni! Greek superstar talks music at Cairo conference

Published October 29th, 2015 - 12:16 GMT
Greek composer, pianist and music producer Yanni during the press conference on 27 October. (Ahram)
Greek composer, pianist and music producer Yanni during the press conference on 27 October. (Ahram)

“Besides it being a dream, I am here to celebrate Egypt, the country, the people of Egypt. I want to send a message to the rest of the world about who the people of Egypt are,” the Greek composer, pianist, and music producer Yanni said during a press conference held 27 October, ahead of two scheduled Cairo concerts on 30 and 31 October.

Attending the press conference were Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou and concert organiser Ashraf Haridy from Promoters International.

During the conference, Yanni revealed his intent to present a new musical composition, created exclusively for Egypt, which he intends to call “In celebration of Egypt.”

Initially Greece’s national swimming champion, Yanni pursued a degree in clinical psychology before switching to music. On the relationship between swimming, psychology, and music he said, “Swimming teaches you how to be strong and overcome pain, [while] psychology helps you understand your fellow man. Both of them are very useful in the creative process. Together they become one and help you have faith in yourself.”

“You cannot write music because you’ve studied psychology or because you’re a swimmer. But there is an indirect relationship between both of them and creating music. Because everything that you create depends on who you are, what you have become, and how much you have learnt going through life,” he added.

Yanni would officially start his career in 1977 by joining Chameleon, a nascent rock band. In 1987 he founded a new band with musicians John Tesh and Charlie Adams. An array of albums followed, featuring contemporary instrumental music, including Optimystique (1984), Keys to Imagination (1986), Out of Silence (1987) as well as Dare to Dream (1992) and In My Time (1993), both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. His later albums include Tribute (1997), If I Could Tell You (2000), Ethnicity (2003), Yanni Voices (2009), Truth of Touch (2011), and most recently Inspirato (2014).

As Yanni put it, his creativities echo everywhere because “the music that I write has to do with pure emotion. It bypasses language and goes directly to your heart, soul and spirit. And thus it communicates to everyone in the world, because emotions are identical in every country in the world. If your music speaks about that emotion then it can communicate everywhere.”

“When I was very young and was beginning to write music I could never imagine whether the rest of the world would understand what I was talking about. As I grew older and traveled around the world I realized that [the music] does get through. They do understand what I’m talking about. They do feel the emotions. I focused my music on being honest, [in that] I’m being honest regarding how life feels like to me.”

Asked whether he was an avid listener of different genres of music, Yanni affirmed that saying that he listens to every kind of music “from classical to rock and roll to Middle Eastern music. The only thing that I ask of the music is that it is honest and not manufactured.”

Yanni proceeded to explain that he found out he was listening to Egyptian music since an early age on his way to Cairo. “I was listening to the short wave radio not knowing that this music was from Egypt and I would hear this language that has a specific sound. I’ve heard this very unique sound before. I’ve been exposed to your music since I was eight years old-and all kinds of other music too, from Lebanon, Italy, Spain, and Morocco. Its just a beautiful variety of sound and diversity.”


30 and 31 October

Sound and Light Theatre, Giza

© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

You may also like