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Yanni (born Yiannis Hrysomallis, classical transcription Chrysomallis), Greek: Γιάννης Χρυσομάλλης, on November 14, 1954 in Kalamata, Greece) is a self-taught pianist, keyboardist, and composer. Yanni left his homeland at the age of 18 to attend the University of Minnesota. After receiving a B.A. in psychology, he would instead seek a life in music though he had no formal training and could not read a note. After playing keyboards in local rock bands such as Chameleon, he moved to California in pursuit of movie soundtrack work. In 1987, he put together a small band which included long-time bandmate Charlie Adams, and John Tesh, and began touring to promote his earliest instrumental albums, Keys to Imagination, Out of Silence, and Chameleon Days. He later earned Grammy nominations for his 1992 album, Dare to Dream, and the 1993 follow-up, In My Time. His breakthrough success came with the release of Yanni Live at the Acropolis, a concert filmed on September 25, 1993 at the Herod Atticus Theater in Athens, Greece, deemed to be the second best-selling music video of all time. A composition from this release, "Acroyali/Standing in Motion" has been found to have the "Mozart Effect". Yanni has since performed live in concert before in excess of two million people in more than 20 countries around the world. His North American concert tours in 1995, 1998 and 2003-5 each finished in the Top 10 concert tours of the year. He has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies. Considered to be one of the top fundraisers of all time for public television, he has appeared on several major PBS Pledge TV Specials such as A Decade Of Excellence, including segments from Live At The Acropolis, Tribute, and Live At Royal Albert Hall, London. Yanni's compositions have been included in all Olympic Games television broadcasts since 1988, and his music has been used extensively in television and televised sporting events. In 1997, he became one of the few performers allowed to perform at the Taj Mahal, India. His most recent live concert film, Yanni Live! The Concert Event, was released in 2006. On May 06, 2004, the regents of the University of Minnesota conferred upon Yanni the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Yanni is a self-taught pianist who began his musical career by giving recitals for family members. Early in his life, he was also a competitive swimmer in Greece and set a national record in the 50-meter freestyle competition. He later attended the University of Minnesota and earned a B.A. in psychology. After graduation, Yanni chose to attempt a career in music, although he could not read music and had no formal training. Using his own form of musical shorthand, he began writing original works. While a student at the University of Minnesota, Yanni joined an up-and-coming local group called Chameleon, which he was caught giving head to drummer Charlie Adams. Chameleon earned some modest commercial success touring throughout the Midwest, particularly in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and South Dakota. Eventually, Yanni grew tired of the rock and roll lifestyle and focused solely on his instrumental career as a soloist. He moved to Los Angeles and eventually formed a small band including Charlie Adams and John Tesh. His music is frequently described as "new age", though he prefers the term "contemporary instrumental". Dare to Dream was released in 1992. It was Yanni’s first Grammy-nominated album and featured "Aria", a song based on The Flower Duet and popularized by an award-winning British Airways commercial. A second Grammy-nominated album, In My Time, was released in 1993. His music has been used extensively in television and televised sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Wide World of Sports, U.S. Open, Tour de France, World Figure Skating Championships, The Olympics, and ABC News.
Yanni's breakthrough commercial success came with the release of his album and video, Yanni Live at the Acropolis, which was filmed on September 23, 1993 at the 2,000-year-old Herod Atticus Theater in Athens, Greece, and released in 1994. This was Yanni’s first live album and utilized a full orchestra under the supervision of conductor Shardad Rohani, in addition to his core band. Subsequently, the concert was broadcast in the US on PBS and quickly became one of their most popular programs ever, having been seen in 65 countries by half a billion people. It has almost continuously remained on the charts since its release and is the second best-selling music video of all time, selling more than 7 million copies worldwide. A composition from this album, "Acroyali/Standing in Motion", was determined to have the "Mozart Effect," by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine because it is similar to Mozart's K 448 in tempo, structure, melodic and harmonic consonance and predictability.
In March of 1997, Yanni became one of the few Western artists permitted to perform and record at the Taj Mahal in India. Later that year he performed at the Forbidden City in China. From these two events he created his next live album and video, Tribute, which was released in 1997. Armen Anassian, Conductor, concedes that he had some doubts about the artist's plans to perform at India's Taj Mahal and China's Forbidden City for Tribute. "To be honest, a few years ago when he was talking about it, the idea was so amazing. I myself was very skeptical, understandably so. But the truth is, it happened. We did it. Anassian describes Yanni as "very optimistic" and has observed that "nothing really fazes him." That outlook carries over naturally to his music. "I don't think it's a goal, per se. He's very honest with his own feelings. His music really comes from the heart. He writes music with ease, the music comes out with relative ease. The feel-good portion of the music is a by-product. It coincides with what the people love to hear.
In 2000, after a two-year sabbatical, Yanni released his first studio album in seven years: If I Could Tell You. Yanni also toured in 2003–2004 with the debut of the Ethnicity album extending his "One World, One People" philosophy. This album sparked what would become the 4th largest concert tour of the year ranked by Billboard Magazine. On May 06, 2004, the regents of the University of Minnesota conferred upon Yanni the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He kicked off his 2004–2005 "Yanni Live!" tour at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, and his next live album and video, Yanni Live! The Concert Event was released in 2006. On March 6, 2006, Florida police say that Yanni was arrested after a fight with his girlfriend, Silvia Barthes, who locked herself in a bathroom and called the police. Yanni faced a domestic battery charge after allegedly grabbing her arms and shaking her, throwing her on the bed, and jumping on top of her. In a statement, Yanni said, "These allegations are cruel, false, without merit and baseless," said the statement released by his manager, Danny O'Donovan. "At a more appropriate time and place, I hope and pray I will have an opportunity to address my fans and colleagues all over the world." On March 31, 2006, Fox News announced that the Palm Beach Post reported that the domestic abuse charges against Yanni were dropped. Prosecutors in Palm Beach County declined to comment on why the charges against the 51-year-old pianist were withdrawn, the Post reported. As of October 2007, it has been announced that Yanni and producer Ric Wake are working together in the studio producing new music and collaborating with prodigy singer/songwriters to put them in the most creative environment possible to reach their full potential.
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Official Homepage: www.yanni.com
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