Concert Review: Yanni

Concert Review: Yanni

The King of World Music takes Newport News by storm.
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This past Monday, the Greek superstar Yanni (real name Yiannis Chrysomallis) brought his spectacular live show to Newport News’ Ferguson Center for the Arts. Yanni’s eclectic concerts, which feature some of the most virtuoso instrumentalists and vocalists in the world, continually thrill audiences of all ages. His style blends contemporary instrumental music with world music, often performing updated versions of famous classical melodies. A world-class performer, some of his most famous recordings have been at the Acropolis in Athens, El Morro in Puerto Rico, and the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. After reading his biography and researching his live shows, I knew that this performance was one not to be missed.

One of the challenges with a concert based in world music is how much of the world to represent in the program. That being said, Yanni’s eclectic setlist drew influences from France, Italy, and his native Greece, with a hint of Middle Eastern influence as well. Yanni uses his performers to display the broad spectrum of world music to an advantage. His two superb vocalists, Lauren Jelencovich and Lisa Lavie, are extremely versatile, capable of singing classical as well as popular styles. The merge of these two styles was epitomized in their duet “Aria,” an updated worldbeat version of the Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera "Lakme." While Delibes’ melody is not as instantly recognizable here, Yanni’s vocal arrangements allow for the two voices to mesmerize even the farthest corners of the venue. Jelencovich’s big vocal moment came when she sang Yanni’s fan favorite “Nightingale.” Inspired by a trip that Yanni took to Venice, “Nightingale” has been performed in past years with a Chinese flute playing the melody. However, Jelencovich replaces the flute with her soaring soprano voice. Her ability to sustain sixth-octave melodies would give opera singers such as Natalie Dessay and Diana Damrau a run for their money. Meanwhile, Lavie brought down the house with a stirring rendition of Yanni’s “Niki Nana (We’re One),” a thrilling uptempo song about how we are spiritually connected as humans. The combination of the prominent brass chords, the disco-like drumbeat, and Lavie’s complex vocal runs á la Celine Dion lifted the audience to its feet for an irresistible dance party.

The talent, however, was not limited to the vocalists. In fact, two of Yanni’s longtime fellow performers, harpist Víctor Espínola and violinist Samvel Yervinyan, were two of my favorites in his ensemble. In numbers such as the fast, danceable “For All Seasons,” the instrumentalists display their solo talents one after the other. Yervinyan’s solo was the most exciting since his virtuosity is unrivalled against any other violinist I’ve seen live. His agility and delicate approach to seventh-octave harmonics is spellbinding. In the same number, Espínola’s harp skills were as ferocious as they were mind-blowing, spanning everything from syncopated plucked chords to bullet-fast arpeggios and glissandi. With the force he exerted onto his instrument with his fingers, it’s a wonder to me how the harp’s strings did not snap. Elsewhere in the ensemble of honorable mention was the drummer Charlie Adams, who showcased his virtuosity during the number “Marching Season.” His drum solo, which lasted for seven minutes, encompassed various time signatures at breakneck paces, in addition to a vast array of dynamics and magnificent crescendos.

Another reason why Yanni’s shows are so great is because of the interaction between him and the audience. His unexpected one-liners in between songs kept the audiences entertained, and his charisma is impossible to dislike. I did not immediately realize how broad the age range was at the concert, and many concert-goers appeared to be longtime fans of Yanni. Some fans would stand up and dance the whole way through during the more uptempo numbers. This notion was especially in the concert’s closer, “The Storm,” based on “Summer” from Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons." For this encore, the entire audience clapped in tempo to each soloist’s final virtuoso passage. Clearly, the unbreakable dynamic between Yanni and his fans remains the Greek musician’s forte (pun intended.)

One feature that I wish had been different was reducing the use of keyboard substitution for more exotic instruments. In certain numbers, the sound of a sitar was often replaced as a patch on an electronic keyboard. Although the electronic sound was still identical to a real sitar, I would love for Yanni to find an actual sitar player. Having one would enhance the all-encompassing nature of his take on world music.

Overall, Yanni's concert was an experience like no other. The millions of fans who have experienced his shows should consider themselves fortunate to have such a brilliant figure unite cultures through music. Yanni will return to the United States this summer, starting June 18 in Houston, Texas.

Cover Image Credit: 2 Down Front

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Poetry On Odyssey: I was I am

A poem for those struggling with who they were.

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it seems almost like a page

in someone else's book now


how there was

a time that i thought

i could have been happy

with someone like you


a million years before

i knew who i was

and that i should mean so much more

than i ever did to you


i almost can't remember

the way you held your elbows or

the way you said the letter o or

the way you told me goodnight


it seems now

that all i can recall

are my relentless tears and

the fear that this was the love

that everyone spoke about


the fear that this

was what id have to live with

for the rest of my life


i remember those late nights

just you and i

you always got what you wanted

i was always too afraid to upset you

looking back i wonder why

i couldnt leave you then


but you kept me

my misery maintained until

i felt like nothing


that night was the record scratch

When I knew my life

Shouldn't be like this.


It wasn't until I finally broke our ties

That I started to remember

Who I am.

But my mind is clear now.

I can remember

How strong I am,

How perfectly happy I am

On my own.


It seems almost like a page

In someone else's book now.


You're finally fading away.

I just wish my scars could fade as quickly.

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