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Yanni

  • Overture Hall 201 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

You could laugh, or you could listen, as the Greek composer celebrates the 25th anniversary of "Live At The Acropolis." Info/tix

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Yanni is often written off as a punchline somewhere between Enya and John Tesh, though it's unlikely that anyone who's laughed at the jokes or made them has ever actually listened to Yiannis Chryssomallis' music. Which, well, is typically the pattern for figures like the Greek composers: People outside their immediate audiences make up their mind and think that's the final word. For his part, though, the operatic pop pianist Yanni long ago denounced the "new age" appositive he's usually saddled with as both "silly" and irrelevant. In 1992 he set the record straight by preferring to instead be described as writing and performing contemporary instrumental music. That was, of course, a long time ago.

These days, Yanni has spoken about how his biggest influences aren't necessarily other musicians but figures like Gandhi. While that, and the fact that his 2016 album is titled Sensuous Chill, will likely only invite more ridicule, Yanni also deserves some credit for pushing boundaries where he could, including frontiers like marrying orchestral arrangements with electronic instruments—something commonplace today (in film scores, for example) but when he first did it, anything but. The term "world music" isn't all that helpful in describing any music, much less Yanni's, who marries jazz, classical, and rock in an attempt to distill the feeling of cities and cultures instead of moods. His stuff can, admittedly, sound schmaltzy at times, but it's still an exploration of humanity that merits more than a dismissive gut reaction. His current tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Live At The Acropolis (his first live album) should rise to the occasion by bringing some more bombast and power. —David Wolinsky

Earlier Event: June 16
Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers