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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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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10 Places From Movies And TV You Can Visit In Real Life

It's like stepping into Hollywood!

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I am constantly so enamored by the world of Hollywood and by going to visit places I have seen on screen. It's always such an unreal feeling to see where my favorite pieces of entertainment were shot. Here are 10 places from some of our favorite movies to see and visit in the real world!

The High School from "10 Things I Hate About You"

If you have ever wanted to dance on the same stairs as Heath Ledger or just stand in the same courtyard as Julia Stiles then you're in luck! Along the water in Tacoma, Washington, Stadium High School is located which was used both inside and out as the high school from one of the greatest teen movies of all time. This school is massive and so beautiful it's almost Hogwarts level stunning.

Pacific Coast Academy from  "Zoey 101"

Growing up I always dreamed about going to Pacific Coast Academy and being best friends with Jamie Lynn Spears and one of those things can (kinda) become a reality! Located in Malibu is a beautiful campus called Pepperdine University and it is the school they used to shoot scenes of Zoey and the gang at PCA. It is a christian based college and is prestigious in it's own right so if unlike me you are smart enough you can live out my dreams.

Central City Police Department from "The Flash"

Have you ever wanted to show up to Detective Joe West's place of work? Well head to the Vancouver City Hall in Vancouver, Canada and you will recognize your surroundings as the Central City Police Department! If you are lucky enough to show up on a filming day, you might even seen the man himself — Barry Allen.

Forks High School from The Twilight Saga

Personally, I am more invested in Bella and Jacob but for all my Team Edward ladies (and gentleman) you can visit the real-life school where Bella and Edward first met and their love blossomed into whatever obsessive weird thing it was. They also used the parking lot at this school to film the infamous scene where Edward saves Bella from getting crushed by a car. The school is called Kalama High School and is located in Kalama, Washington

Max And Dani's House from "Hocus Pocus"

Anyone with taste loves the movie Hocus Pocus — that's just facts! And I have some good news for fans of the film...you can visit the infamous Denison house! Located in none other than Salem, Massachusetts you will find this beautiful home where my favorite siblings once lived.

Silent Hill from "Silent Hill"

I will say before talking about this place that visiting it is EXTREMELY dangerous as just like in the movie the town as been burning from below for years and years. This small town is called Centralia and is located Pennsylvania and has a roaring population of about four people.

Hobbiton from "Lord Of The Rings"

I am personally not a fan of Lord of the Rings but I know a lot of people are so I wanted to include this super cool place on the list. If you ever find yourself in New Zealand you can visit Hobbinton from the movies and spend a day living like your favorite characters.

Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter Series

Now this place will unfortunately be packed with muggles of course but you can find it at King's Cross Station in London! If you are anything like me and are obsessed with these magical movies this is a dream destination just don't run too hard at the wall if you're a muggle it will probably end in a concussion.

East High from the High School Musical Saga

Located in Salt Lake City Utah is the real life East High that was used in the filming of all three High School Musical movies. It is my absolute dream to attend this high school and walk the halls of the greatest high school of all time. They used both the outside and inside and the school so every inch of the school will remind you of these great teen movies.

Gus and Hazel's Bench from "The Fault in Our Stars" 

If you ever wanted to visit the site of this kiss between star crossed lovers you're in luck! Located along a canal in Amsterdam is a bench that is clearly marked by all the fault in our stars graffiti. Recreate this cute picture with your significant other and use a quote from the movie — then you'll just win in life.

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