In Yanni's own words, his chances as a young boy of getting where he is today "were zero." As an aspiring musician from the small Greek village of Kalamata, becoming a full-time professional artist alone could count as a feat. But Yanni not only plays music: he has been touring the globe, playing and composing music — instrumental music, no less — for over three decades to legions of faithful fans, staging memorable live performances. Indeed, his Live at the Acropolis counts for the best-selling concert video of all time, and the second highest-rated music video, second only to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." And the Acropolis isn't the only UNESCO World Heritage Site this self-taught maestro has adopted as his stage. Others include the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal and Beijing's Forbidden City.
Accounting for Yanni's success are his personality and his musical choices, both of which are subtle and bold by turns. Blending global-music styles with rock and classical music, Yanni clearly feels empowered to take down artistic categories. And so, with his characteristic panache, Yanni suggested we conduct this interview musically, stating in an email (via his publicist, of course), that he prefers to let the "music speak for itself," giving us only the titles of the response and the and the responses themselves We decided to give a go, and below you'll find his answers, via flute, trumpet, drum and other instruments, to questions Westword posed about his career, his creative process and his latest release, Sensuous Chill, which he will be highlighting on his current tour. And lucky for Yanni fans, that tour is also making stops both in Colorado Springs, on Monday, March 7, and in Denver on Tuesday, March 8. In the interview below, just click on the playback button to hear what Yanni has to "say."
What first drew you to play music as a boy growing up in Kalamata, Greece?
Response Title: I Was A Boy
I Was A Boy
You just released your latest album, Sensuous Chill, in January. What makes this record stand out?
Response Title: Sensual Thrill
You spend a lot of time writing music and performing. Is there one you prefer, composing and recording in the studio, or playing live in front of thousands of people?
Response Title: Musical Monk
Having played at some of the most cherished historical sites in the world, such as the Acropolis and the Pyramids, what's it like playing Denver's Bellco Theater?
Response Title: Bellco Theater
When you're not front and center, you've recorded music for films - even music for NASA. How do you go about composing for astronauts living on the International Space Station?
Response Title: Space Bliss
Were you seriously gifted a panda by the Chinese government? Why did you choose to name her Santorini?
Response Title: The Isle of Santorini
The Isle of Santorini
Adopting Santorini has led you to a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. What is it like having become a spokesperson of sorts for the WWF?
Response Title: World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund
Editorial Note: Yanni did not, in fact, grant Westword an interview, whether via words or music. This article is a work of imagination. Special thanks to Esther Hernandez and Luke Thinnes for their help conducting this "interview."
Catch the real Yanni in Colorado Springs on Monday, March 7, and in Denver on Tuesday, March 8. To learn more about the artist, visit his website.