AN EVENING WITH YANNI; one night only; Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City; running time 2 1/2 hours, no intermission
SALT LAKE CITY — It's obvious that Salt Lake City loves Yanni.
The crowd filling up Abravanel Hall started applauding when the orchestra came out to tune their instruments and only stopped applauding after more than two-and-a-half hours of music and three encores.
"I love you too!," said the Greek artist who has performed in Salt Lake almost every year since the start of his touring career.
Yanni said the Salt Lake crowd is one of the loudest, most appreciative crowds he's heard and despite the toll the altitude takes on some sensitive instruments, he can't see doing a North American tour without Utah on the list.
He described touring all over the world including Thailand, South Korea and China where he was presented with the honor of being allowed to symbolically adopt a panda bear cub.
"We call her Santorini," he said. "Of course, she's the most beautiful panda anywhere."
Yanni and his talented band of gifted musicians opened with the signature Santorini that marks Yanni's concerts and flowed to music from his early albums to his latest "Truth of Touch" CD.
In his iconic stance, he played two keyboards while standing between them and directing his orchestra.
Waves of rich music washed over the audience as he brought back songs from his "Live at the Acropolis," "Tribute" and "Dare to Dream" albums.
Solos from his drummer of almost 30 years, Charlie Adams, violinists Mary Simpson and Samvel Yervinyan — who played impossibly fast and well — and vocalists Lauren Jelecovich and Lisa Lavie also impressed along with harpist Victor Espinola and keyboard artist Ming Freeman.
Abravanel Hall proves to be a wonderful venue for Yanni's music, providing an intimacy and sound reflection that earlier concerts in the former Delta Center did not offer.
Yanni spoke about the reception his music is getting not only in Utah but around the world and urged his audience to remember that lines between countries are lines that only exist on maps and not in the hearts of people.
"We are, after all, all one people," he said.
He said his music is designed to lift hearts and help the mind and heart let go of negative emotions.
This concert proved his point.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.