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Thursday, January 24 , 2019, 5:16 am | Fair 42º


Jeff Moehlis: Yanni, Live at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Greek New Age keyboardist and composer will perform his contemporary instrumental music under the stars

Not many living people have their name appear regularly as the answer to crossword puzzle clues. But if you’re looking for a five-letter answer to “One-named New Age musician” or “Greek New Age keyboardist,” it doesn’t take long to come up with “Yanni.”

Of course, Yanni’s mark extends far beyond crossword puzzles. He has released 14 studio albums, the latest of which is 2011’s Truth of Touch, and two of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards, plus seven live albums, including Live at the Acropolis, which along with its companion video has sold more than 7 million copies.

His music, which he prefers to call “contemporary instrumental” rather than “New Age,” has also been used in television shows, televised sporting events and commercials. Yanni was even the first Westerner to perform at the Taj Mahal and Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Yanni will be performing this Saturday, July 21, at the Santa Barbara Bowl, a setting which is not quite as stunning as the Acropolis, but is arguably one of the most beautiful in this part of the world. Click here for tickets.

The following is an excerpt of an interview conducted by email. Click here to read the full interview.

Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at your upcoming show in Santa Barbara?

Yanni: The magic of an outdoor show is always spectacular. Each concert is unique, and our orchestra is very excited to be coming to Santa Barbara. The audience will hear music from the beginning of my career to music from the most recent studio album, Truth of Touch. We also will be performing some newly arranged songs that have never been performed before, such as “Nightingale.”

JM: Can you tell us about the band that will be joining you?

Y: These people are some of the best musicians in the world. We have been called the “United Nations” of musicians. I think we have about 10 nationalities represented on the stage, including Russia, England, Cuba, Paraguay, Venezuela, Armenia, Canada, USA, Germany and, oh yes, Greece.

Many of the orchestra musicians have been with me for decades, including drummer Charlie Adams, who has been with me for 30 years. Some of our newer stars have already been with us on tour in South America, Europe and Asia, and now the United States.

JM: How would you compare the experiences of performing live and recording in the studio?

Y: While I enjoy both performing and recording, performing live is the most incredible experience that an artist can have. I love the excitement and the relationship with a live audience. Every night is different, and no two audiences are the same. Performing live and traveling around the world is the greatest benefit of a career in music. The recording process is very different in that it is often very solitary and I can spend months composing and recording just a few songs.

JM: How do you typically compose a new piece, or is there a typical?

Y: You got it; there is not a typical method. My compositions are inspired by my experiences in life and are almost never planned. On the most recent album, Truth of Touch, I was in the studio experimenting with new sound designs and the process ended up lasting for many months, after which I found that I had composed an entire album.

JM: Your album and video Live at the Acropolis really struck a chord worldwide. To what do you attribute its massive success?

Y: A lot of factors came together at the same time for the Acropolis project. The venue was magnificent in every manner. The visual beauty made it a spectacular video and TV show. The amazing acoustics made the audio recording like nothing in the world at that time. We also had a lot of support from television around the world. PBS in the USA was playing that concert for several years, and to this day when we travel the globe, we find audiences that remember the Acropolis TV show.

JM: What is your take on the current state of politics and the economy in Greece?

Y: I have a lot of family and friends in Greece, and I know that they are going through a very challenging time right now. Greece has seen itself through many difficult times throughout history, and I am confident that the country will eventually be successful in overcoming its current challenges.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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