TEHRAN (FNA)- As reports say prominent Greek pianist and composer Yiannis Chryssomallis, also known as Yanni, will stage several performances in Iran in the coming months, he speaks of his feelings.
Yanni has had a detailed interview with FNA to speak about his works and trip to Iran. Here is the text of the interview:
Q: Iranian composer, violinist, and conductor Shahrdad Rouhani has so far arranged and conducted a large number of your works. Would you please be kind enough to share your thoughts about Shardad with our readers?
A: Shardhad Rohani worked with me initially during the Acropolis concerts. Due to unusual circumstances we had to find a world-class orchestra at the last moment before the concerts. We were fortunate to be able to get the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London to fly to Greece for the concerts. Shardhad was the conductor for the orchestra and he had to get everyone in that orchestra to learn and perform for television and all of my original material. It was all brand new to each musician and Shardhad did an amazing job of delivering a spectacular performance with this orchestra. He also contributed with his incredible musicianship as a violin soloist during the concerts. I worked many time after that with Shardhad and I am very grateful for his contribution to the Acropolis concerts as these have been broadcast throughout the world for over 20 years and were a major part of launching my career.
Q: There is big news everywhere that you will conduct performances in the Iranian capital Tehran and on the Southern island of Kish in the coming months. How do feel about this?
A: I have read this news as well and I can tell you that I hope all of the parties involved find a way to make these concerts happen. I have greatly enjoyed performing for Iranian fans throughout the world and have met many of them personally at concerts outside of Iran. I am in contact with the Iranian fans through Facebook and our Fan Clubs and feel that Iran holds a special place for us. It would be a dream come true to be able to share in the experience of live concerts with people in Iran.
Q: Would you kindly tell us how much you are familiar with the Iranian culture and art?
A: I grew up in Greece and was always familiar with the entire region. I have always been interested and fascinated with Iran and its history. Throughout my travels I have come in contact with many Iranians and there is a special connection we share through music. As I mentioned above, the Iranian conductor and musical artist Shardhad Rouhani played a very important part in the beginning of my career. I really look forward to being able to visit and perform in Iran so that I can be there and learn about the people and their culture directly for myself.
Q: Western media outlets have long been running a misinformation campaign against Iran, attempting to depict a different image of Iran’s culture, and people. Do you feel concerned about travelling to Iran, considering the western media bias?
A: During the past several years we have performed in over 30 different countries. The media often portray a very different picture of many aspects of a country, its people and its culture. The only way that a person can really know a place is to go there and learn and understand the country from firsthand experience. I can tell you that I look forward to this experience someday in Iran.
Q: Your concerts are often performed at historical monuments. You have performed at the Acropolis in Greece, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Forbidden City in China. Why historical places? Which historical sites in Iran do you have in mind to perform at?
A: Performing at historical monuments can bring a very magical element to a musical performance. I am moved by these monuments and try to perform music that respects and is in concert with the monument. The locations are often brought to our team by local representatives and they may happen if the timing and circumstances are correct. These types of concerts take a long time to prepare for and are very carefully produced. My first concern is to protect the monument and to respect the image and meaning of these monuments. There are many beautiful sites in Iran and I have always been very fascinated in the history and significance of Persepolis but at this time I have no plans underway to perform there.
I would of course perform all of the songs that I believe any audience would want and expect to hear. The music would be from the very beginning of my career, right up to my most recent studio album. The concerts take the audience on a journey through many levels and types of emotion. I try to reflect all of the emotions I have felt in my life through music and this range of feeling is shared with the audience. It is my hope that each person who comes to our concert can take a break from their everyday lives for a few hours and leave with a feeling of inspiration and hope.
Q: You enjoy the support of dedicated fans all across the world. A large number of your Iranian fans are now full of enthusiasm for your coming concert which is expected to be one of your greatest hits. How do you see this?
A: My experience with Iranian fans throughout the world has been wonderful. A few years ago, two Iranian cyclists rode their bicycles over 2 weeks, traveling 1,400 kilometers from Tehran to Yerevan, Armenia to attend one of our concerts. The entire audience of thousands of Armenia fans gave these cyclists a standing ovation. These men shared their story with me when I met them after the concert and after speaking with them. After reading the messages from Face Book and being in contact with our Iranian Fan Clubs, I believe that our concerts in Iran would be among the best and most celebrated events that I have done anywhere in the world.
Q: “Inspirato” is your seventeenth studio album, released in 2014. To create the album, you collaborated with opera tenor Plácido Domingo and producer Ric Wake to select distinguished vocalists to perform songs that you had previously released over your career. The album’s tracks are based on selected songs from throughout your career, but have newly-created lyrics sung by distinguished vocalists having opera backgrounds. The dominant language of the album’s lyrics is Italian. Please, let us know your view about “Inspirato”?
A: Inspirato was a project I loved working for a long time. I was honored to have many of the world’s greatest operatic voices record lyrics to many of my favorite compositions. It was wonderful to work with Placido Domingo who worked closely with me to select the songs and match the songs with the best voice. This was challenging because these opera stars on the album are among the best in the world and their schedules are very demanding which is why it took four years to complete and was recorded in several countries including England, Italy, Germany and the US. This will not be repeated; it was a once in a lifetime achievement.
Q: You seem to have worked with artists at your level of skill and reputation on fewer occassions. Has this been the result of your personal tendencies or not?
A: I feel that I have worked with many of the best musicians in the world. A lot of my music is written to highlight virtuoso performances from many instruments. Every night that I perform I feel I am a part of the best orchestra I can think of. Our violinist Samuel Yervinian is among the best violinists in the world in my opinion. Victor Espinola on the Harp, Alexander Zhiroff on cello, Ming Frreman on keyboards, Jason Carter on Trumpet and the others are among the best in the world. It has been an honor to have the music I compose performed by these great musicians.
Q: Which works of your own do you like the most?
A: It is impossible for me to select any of my musics or even albums. For me, each song is like a child and I love them all. They are all different and have different meaning to me. Some of the songs that I tend to perform often are very dear to me are “Santorini”, written about my homeland and “Feltisa” inspired by my mother and the special kind of love that she shared with world.
Q: What kind of music do you like to listen to and why?
A: I listen to music that suits a particular mood that I am feeling. I like music to compliment the environment I am in. In my early years as a child I was influenced and enjoyed listening to many of the great classical composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. Throughout the years I have enjoyed music from all around the world of every genre.
Q: After years of touring and selling more than 20 million albums, you suddenly walked away from your career on July 5, 1998. Would you please let our readers know more on this.
A: I went through a period of self-reflection and wanted to take a break from music. I was touring extensively, producing television concerts and recording albums without any time to myself that was not working time. Over the years this led to music becoming something that I no longer enjoyed, so I stopped. When I stopped I was not sure if I would ever go back to music. I went over a year without playing the piano even once. Eventually, I healed myself and found the love of music again and like an old friend, music came back into my life. When I returned to music, I found that I enjoyed it more than ever before and this current time in my life is the best I have ever known and I have never been happier to be immersed in music. My music is inspired by my influences and experiences throughout my life. Being able to travel throughout the world, come in contact with people and cultures from every part of the world and learn from these experiences is reflected in the music I compose.
I believe that because my music is instrumental, there are no words to limit its meaning to people. I think that people in any area of the world can understand and relate to instrumental music and it can have a very direct meaning to each person regardless of their language, culture or geography. I have been amazed however, that people in various parts of the world react in similar manners to the music. An audience in Brazil would react the same way to my music, as does an audience in China or Iran. Music is truly the universal language and instrumental music has no barriers.
I have always found a keen interest in learning as much as possible about music in many forms including sound design, composing and performing. I have always pursued this interest and learned as much as I can be actually doing the work and developing my own understanding practically. I never studied music in a formal institutional educational manner but rather by actual application and experience.
Music education is something that I believe is good and at some point the student needs to grow past the teacher and begin to discover and learn for themselves.
Q: Do you intend to release more works in the near future?
A: I have many new ideas that I am looking forward to developing in the recording studio. With the technology that is available today, I have been discovering new sound ideas and have been inspired with the possibilities of creating new music. I hope to be composing again during this year if the creative moment captures me.
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