It was not Yanni’s dream alone. It was my dream and the dream of many young Egyptians to see the gifted Greek American singer, music producer, and composer perform in Egypt. And it was more ‘a dream come true’ because Yanni’s performance took place at the foot of the magnificent world wonder, the Giza Pyramid.
Yanni’s love story with Egyptian fans began long before his dream concert at the foot of the pyramids. Many had written on his Facebook page asking him to come perform in Egypt and, when he could finally make it this year and news circulated of his Dream Concert, his Egyptian fans were wild with excitement. They inundated his Facebook page with messages of warm welcome. They flocked to the airport to receive him with loud cheers, holding posters and playing his music on the sound system at the airport. Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou was on hand to receive him. EgyptAir had welcomed him on board the flight from Kennedy Airport with chocolate wrapped in Yanni’s picture. “Amazing what you find on EgyptAir. Homemade Yanni chocolates!” he laughed.
In Cairo, Yanni was treated to a tour of the Pyramids, Khan al-Khalili Bazaar, al-Muizz Street, and the Cairo Citadel. The photos shot during these tours were posted on the hashtag #ThisIsEgypt.
An excited and thrilled Yanni responded with a video message on his official YouTube channel: “You make me feel so welcome to your country, I cannot wait to perform in front of your magnificent pyramids. It’s going to be phenomenal!”
And phenomenal it was. The concerts held at the Sound and Light Theatre on 30 and 31 October were a celebration, a festival of the unique musician that is Yanni.
His music flowed, brilliant in melody and arrangement. His band played splendidly, the solo performances of their members gaining resounding applause. The audience were thrilled, their hearts captured by a performance that exuded passion.
True global artist
The repertoire was carefully chosen; the gentle songs followed by the more lively ones kept the audience on their toes and guaranteed a mood of joyful pleasure. Keys to imagination, Santorini, and One man dream were among the favourites. Felitsa, which he dedicated to his mother’s soul, was especially moving. Hearts were touched when he uttered the dedication “to the woman who brought me into the world”.
Aptly named “The Dream Concert”, it was the most recent in a string of concerts by Yanni in some of the most majestic historic sites in the world: the Acropolis in Greece, the Taj Mahal in India, the Forbidden City in China, the Buri Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, the Kremlin in Russia, the El Morro Castle in Puerto Rico, the ancient city of Byblos in Lebanon, the Roman Theatre of Carthage in Tunisia, and the Laxmi Vilas Palace in India.
Yanni, born Yannis Chryssomallis in 1954 in Kalamata, Greece, spent his adult life in the US. He gained fame for full-scale blending jazz, classical, and soft rock with music from various parts of the world to create music that has been called an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds. He popularised the combination of electronic music synthesisers with full large-scale orchestra.
Two Yanni albums, Dare to Dream and In My Time[comma] received Grammy Award nominations; he has performed in more than 30 countries on five continents, and accumulated more than 40 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totalling over 25 million copies.
With music that truly reflects his “one world, one people” philosophy, Yanni has been called a “true global artist”.
It was a wonderful surprise when, in the midst of the Dream Concert, a live broadcast was received from International Space Commander Scott Kelly.
Yanni interspersed his songs with words, words that expressed the warm-hearted sentiment he shared with his audience, and his love and respect for Egypt. “Here we are in the heart of civilisation,” he said. He and his band, he said, came to Egypt with a message of confidence and a sense of security at being there. He praised the Egyptian people, their kind hearts, beauty, noble feelings, patience, and forbearance.
Greece is his home, Yanni said; now he has a home in Egypt too. Twenty-two years ago, he said, he and his band began their international concerts with a performance in Greece. “Now we have come to this place, at the foot of the great Pyramids of Egypt.”
He spoke the the widely used Arabic words “salamu aleikum” (peace be unto you), “shukran” (thanks), and especially the great “Tahya Misr” (Long Live Egypt). The audience went viral. It was beyond doubt a fitting finale to a lovely dream come true.
4 November 2015