Yanni is bringing new age sounds to State College.
The renowned world music instrumentalist will perform at 8 p.m. March 29 at the Bryce Jordan Center, University Park.
"We have Elton John performing here two nights before him, and that's huge. But what some people don't realize is that Yanni is just as internationally recognized [as Elton John]," Bernie Punt, director of sales and marketing, said. "His new tour came into the U.S. just last week and we're anticipating a great show. He's not been in the states for quite a while, and he hasn't been to the Bryce since back in March 2003. He and his band were phenomenal. They were some of the most talented musicians I've ever seen. He tours with some of the best in the world."
Yanni will be performing songs spanning the entire canon of his recorded works, 14 albums which date back to 1984, as well as numbers from his newest release, Punt said. "Truth of Touch," has been described by critics at NewAgeMusicWorld.com as a "cutting-edge new sound."
"I was just having fun with this album. I designed quite a lot of new sounds. It's a little more defined and a little more westernized," the 57-year-old composer and Kalamata, Greece native said in a recent phone interview from his home in Palm Beach, Fla. "I had no real direction. I just wanted to do things that turned me on. I had so much to talk about [through music] because I'd traveled the world, had a lot of new experiences. When you hear it, you'll know it's not a typical Yanni album. I took a lot of chances because I didn't care. I was just writing music that turned me on. It's a fun album. I think it's one of the greatest I've ever done."
Of the artists who rose to popularity as part of the new age music boom of the 1980s and '90s, few, if any, enjoyed greater or more lasting success than Yanni, according to allmusic.com. Composing and performing instrumental music with a pronounced sense of drama, dynamics, and romanticism, Yanni broke through to a significantly larger audience than his peers, thanks to adult alternative radio airplay and a commanding performance style that attracted fans through frequent appearances on public television as well as worldwide concert tours.
He earned Grammy nominations for his 1992 album, "Dare to Dream," and the 1993 follow-up, "In My Time." His breakthrough success came with the 1994 release of "Yanni Live at the Acropolis" deemed to be the second best-selling music video of all time. He has since performed live in concert before in excess of two million people in more than 20 countries around the world; has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies; and is considered to be one of the top fundraisers of all time for public television. His 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. His music is frequently described as "New Age," though he prefers to not be pigeonholed.
"It's useful to have labels in the world, but not in music," he said. "When you start categorizing art, that's where I have a problem. When I first started doing this type of music, I was using keyboards. And back then, that was anathema ... people didn't know what to do with my music. I just want to call my music 'music.'" He cited artistic freedom as the key to his success.
"I didn't have anyone telling me what do with music, and what the correct way to write it is," he said. "I'm into the creative process. When you create, you make things that don't exist. But unfortunately, our schools teach us so much, kids don't learn how to function without them. But maybe that's improving. But when I was in school, the decision not to take lessons wasn't a conscious one. As a kid, I didn't like teachers. I just climbed up on my father's piano and taught myself. Thirty years later, I look back and I'm glad I learned that way."
Punt described this months's all-star line up at BJC as the arena's "own version of March Madness," with Yanni's show preceded by John and Celtic Woman and followed by rap star Lil' Wayne, adding that despite the fact that many students might not be familiar with Yanni's work, there also are plenty who are.
"We have so many students right here at Penn State University who are very excited to see him," he said. "Many of the kids from Pennsylvania aren't familiar with his music, but we have quite a few international students who know he is. When the tickets for this show went on sale right before Christmas, I couldn't believe the number of young international students who were there ready to buy tickets."
Yanni said his main objective with the current tour is "to win audiences over."
"I'd like to hold them, emotionally uplift them ... look down on them and see them smiling, crying and hugging each other," he said. "It's a a tall order, but it can be done."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.