Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Greek magic at the Pyramids

Greek magic at the Pyramids
Greek magic at the Pyramids
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Greek new age music legend Yanni will perform at the foot of the Giza Pyramids on 30 and 31 October, part of his Dream Concert series.

Born in 1954 in Kalamata, a Greek city on the Peloponnese peninsula, Yanni (Yiannis Chryssomallis) is among the best-known prodigies of new age music. His trademark instrumental blend of pop, jazz, rock, classical and world music has made him a household name since the late 1980s. His 1992 album Dare to Dream was his first Grammy nomination. It included a pop version of the famous Flower Duet from Leo Delibes’ opera Lakmé. In My Time, a year later, was his second Grammy nomination. In over three decades Yanni has won many awards, selling over 25 million copies of his albums. Starting in 1993 at the Acropolis, Yanni took the world by storm when he adapted a rich visual-musical format to a series of mega-productions at historical sites, later turning the “live album” into a film. The Acropolis concert was the No.1 New Age album and its film one an Emmy nomination in 1994. It was followed by India’s Taj Mahal and China’s Forbidden City, released as a single album, the United Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa, Russia’s Kremlin, Puerto Rico’s El Morro Castle, Lebanon’s ancient city of Byblos, Tunisia’s Roman Theatre of Carthage, India’s Laxmi Vilas Palace – and now the Giza Pyramids.

At a press conference on 27 October, Yanni, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou and Promoters International head Ashraf Haridy, the man behind the organisation of the concert, responded to a large number of journalists. The presenter opened the event by announcing that this is Yanni’s first visit to Egypt. For his part Yanni said, “A part of my dream to come to Egypt, the primary reason of my presence here is to celebrate Egypt. I want to send a message to the rest of the world about this country and its people.” Since landing on 26 October, he said, “I could see the excitement and happiness. People show me an enormous respect and I don’t feel any danger.”

Yanni also revealed that he prepared a surprise piece of music for the Pyramids concert. “I composed a piece especially for Egypt naming it ‘In Celebration of Egypt’ which will be performed during the concerts. Music that I write has to do with emotions, it bypasses the language and goes directly to your soul and this communicates with everyone in the world. When, as a very young man, I was beginning to write music, I never imagined that the world would understand me. But as I started travelling, I learned that being honest about emotions and music helps you reach everyone across the world.”

Yanni revealed that he listens to all kinds of music, from classical to rock and roll, from East to West. “I grew up listening to a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music. In fact, I was also listening to music on the radio, to music from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, not always aware which cultures they represented in particular. I enjoyed them all, just like I enjoy all music. All I ask for music is to be honest and not manufactured,” he explained.

Asked about his past as a swimming champion in Greece and studying psychology in the US – two things he did before embarking on a career in music, Yanni explained that all his experiences are linked. “Swimming teaches you how to become strong and to control your body, psychology gives you tools to better understand your fellow men. Both disciplines are useful in the creative process. You cannot write music because you studied psychology or because you are a swimmer but there is an indirect relation between all those disciplines. Everything that you create depends on who you are.”

For his part Zaazou announced that the concert is part of a plan to host a large number of similar events. “We need to have more events of this grandeur. Why not reach out to locations such as Luxor as well, why not one concert every two months… This kind of event gives the clearest message about Egypt we can send to the world.”

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