Because she doesn't hate Yanni is not a real reason to break up with a girl," says Ross, the iconic character from Friends, to his commitment-shy friend Chandler. Now such a jibe would make any classical musician cringe, but not the Grammy-nominated artist in question: Yianis Hrysomallis (popularly known as Yanni). The Greek musician lets the snide remark roll off his back with a shrug.
"It's up to them whether they want to make fun or not. Music is art and once you become an artist you need to learn how to accept criticism," said Yanni in an interview with tabloid! prior to his maiden UAE concert on Friday at the Burj Park, with the fountains and the towering Burj Khalifa serving as a spectacular backdrop. But the famous composer doesn't let go of it either.
"It's like me asking you ‘How do you like your tea — do you like it with honey or lemon?' Some people like it with nothing at all and those people go ‘you put lemon, I don't like it at all.' When it comes to my music there's no right or wrong. If you don't like my music, just don't listen to it," he said in a placid tone that would make a saint proud. But his millions of fans who have witnessed this New Age instrumentalist in action will vouch that his music is definitely their cup of tea.
This keyboard genius, whose concerts are an amalgamation of soul-stirring orchestra, display of dazzling lights and showmanship, has also earned the rare distinction of being the only artist who has performed in front of monuments including the Taj Mahal in India, The Forbidden City in China and the Acropolis in his native land. But with global attention comes greater responsibility, believes Yanni.
"These type of events are very difficult to put together. And when you do music concerts at Taj Mahal and the Acropolis, you have to be careful about your performance being appropriate with the place that surrounds you. It has to be appropriate to the culture — it should fit the building behind you, the environment you are playing it in and the culture of that place." Perhaps, that's the reason why he bills his forthcoming concert in Dubai as an evening that will start on a slow pace but reach a crescendo akin to a modern, powerful rock concert toward the end.
"It's going to be a magical and a phenomenal night. But I like to surprise people, so don't want to explain it from start to finish. I know the internet pretty much gives it away. But let me tell you, the Dubai concert will have the best orchestra that I have ever had. Some of the best musicians in the world will be with me creating the best sounds that they have ever heard."
He adds that the rhythm and sound will remind concertgoers of life. Tracks from Yanni's new album Truth Of Touch — touted as the self-taught pianist's first studio instrumental album in over seven years since his record-selling 2003 Ethnicity — will also feature.
"It's going to be a mix of old and new and my fans will be able to hear different sounds and rhythms from the beginning of my career to this day."
By the time you read this article, as many as 6,500 tickets would have already been sold making it a sell-out gig. As the local organisers Dubai Events & Promotions Establishment puts it, Yanni's music cut across boundaries and cultures.
"Yanni's multicultural approach to music as a universal language fits perfectly in the social mosaic of Dubai with its more than 200 nationalities mixture," said DEPE in a statement. The long-haired musician has a more simplistic take on his enduring appeal.
"I don't like to define my music. To me music is pure emotion. It's language that can communicate certain emotions and the rhythms cuts across genders, cultures and nationalities. All you need to do is close your eyes and feel those emotions."
DUBAI: "I love it. The moment I stepped off the plane, the border guards recognised me. Though I was pleasantly surprised by that, it was their ‘Welcome home' that won me over."
LIFE ON THE ROAD: "I love the road and I love coming in contact with the fans. They talk to me and that's irreplaceable. But when I get tired, I head to the studio and I am in there for a long time."
Did you know
Yanni will perform at Burj Park, Downtown Dubai, on Friday. Doors open at 8pm and concert starts at 10pm. Tickets are sold out.