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The Saenger Theater: Yanni, maybe not what you would think

Editor’s Note: Music enthusiast and photographer Steven Hatley pairs up with “Snippets of New Orleans” illustrator Emma Fick to capture the inside and outside of The Saenger Theater. Feature image is by Emma Fick, while photographs and text are by Steven Hatley. That’s a nice well-rounded pair.

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Yiannis Chryssomallis, better known by his stage name, Yanni, has been transforming World Music for more than 35 years. Maybe Yanni is on your go-to playlist at the moment, but he tends to take on a whole new identity with each performance. That was the case with his groundbreaking concert at the Acropolis in 1993, and in every show since. His recent concert at The Saenger Theater was no exception.

Substitute the glorious ruins of the Acropolis with an amazing revitalized and renovated turn-of-the-century theater and you had the makings of a beautiful evening. The set was the definition of a musician’s clinic. Yanni made it a point throughout the show to feature a musician or vocalist at all times. While the solos were picturesque and breathtaking, the band as a whole played as a fine-tuned machine. One with Yanni himself at the helm.

Female vocalists Lisa Lavie (“The Keeper”) and Lauren Jelencovich (“Nightingale”) rounded out the grans orchestra, adding powerful performances. “Nightingale,” according to Yanni, has been a work in progress and has evolved greatly throughout the years. Jelenovich’s vocals were nothing less than stellar, and her operatic range couldn’t even halfway be processed by my brain.

Yanni surprised the crowd with a new song that hasn’t been released yet, “Human Condition.” This new song is by far the outcome of his evolution, which has been shaped immensely by his endless world tours. The light show complements the backing music so well that at time it is intoxication, and you just seem to get lost in it. I could go on and on at how amazing the evening was and still barely scratch the surface. Yanni will be close by again in June when he plays a concert on June 18 at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts. When he circles back through New Orleans, and we now there’s no way he can stay away, you can indulge in the performance yourself.

For now, visuals and words will have to do, so you can see an extended gallery here of the concert from The Saenger Theater here.


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