Renowned Greek composer and pianist Yanni enthralled a sell-out crowd at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) on Thursday in a concert held under the supervision of the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment.
Yanni, 63, enjoyed a great reception from fans as he arrived on stage with his 12-piece orchestra.
The show kicked off with a short introductory performance by the trumpet players, with Yanni assisting them on the piano. At the end of this ephemeral piece, Yanni told the crowd, “I am so happy to be in Saudi Arabia. It feels like home… it’s just perfect.”
After the powerful introductory piece, Yanni calmed things with a performance of his popular 1992 track “Felitsa” — composed for his mother — under a bright spotlight, with dim red and blue spotlights falling on orchestra members, accompanied by a sea of smartphones held aloft by the crowd.
While Yanni’s performance included many new compositions, it was the blockbusters the crowd most wanted to hear and he did not disappoint, airing classics including “Nostalgia,” “Marching Season,” and “Standing In Motion” to rapturous applause.
“The Rain Must Fall” was enlivened by the outstanding skills of bassist Gabriel Vivas, while an exquisite rendition of “Nightingale” revealed the phenomenal vocal range of American soprano Lauren Jelencovich.
Perhaps the wildest reception of the night (aside from those afforded Yanni himself), though, was reserved for drummer Charlie Adams’ extended solo — performed with dazzling speed and dexterity — during which he amused the crowd by sipping from his coffee.
Yanni concluded his show with his upbeat composition “The Storm,” which featured a beautiful performance by Armenian violinist Samvel Yervinyan and Lindsay Deutsch, an American violinist. The crowd was noisily appreciative of the awe-inspiring pace at which the musicians performed this intricate piece.
Speaking to Arab News before the show, Yanni’s daughter Krystall Ann, who is travelling with her father, said: “I’m just so happy and thrilled that we can actually be here. It’s been beautiful. I’m excited that we’ll be here a full two weeks, from coast to coast. It’s been lovely so far.”
Yanni performed another show in Jeddah on Friday. He will play at the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University auditorium in Riyadh on Dec. 3-4, and at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran on Dec. 6-7.