That unique phenomenon Yanni is once again wooing audiences with his distinctive blend of world music sounds in a tour aptly titled Ethnicity. Once again, Peter Morse is Yanni's LD, working with an extensive lineup of High End Systems equipment.
Yanni's music is notably different from that of other touring artists, which means that his songs pose unique challenges to LDs and programmers. “There aren't two consecutive bars of 4/4 time,” says Morse, adding, “There's one song where I've yet to figure out the time signature. You've got to understand music to be able to count. He's very precise about accents and pickups.” Lighting director Bud Horowitz adds, “There are many internal cues. In a lineup of 22 songs, there are probably 2,000 cues. We have songs with over 200 cues in them. People don't always think there are lot of dynamics in his music, but they're seven to nine minutes long, with unusual time signatures, like you might have in jazz or classical music.” Morse says, “One song has as many as 300 cues because it is a loop of 5/4 accents that repeat; it's very cue-intensive.”
The gear list includes 130 High End Studio Colors®, of which, says Horowitz, Yanni owns 110, along with 24 Cyberlights®. “He got them before they did the India and China shows,” in the 1990s, says Horowitz. About this gear, he says, “They're really the workhorse of the rig, in terms of washes. There are 28 people onstage — that kind of big wash is important to us.” Morse notes that the use of vintage lighting equipment is “somewhat restrictive. The biggest problem is balancing the color between them and the newer fixtures that we use.”
Programming for the tour was handled by Eric Wade and Joel Young. Interestingly, given the show's complexity, a previsualization program was not used. Horowitz says, “It's all done by listening to the song, and Peter sitting with us, going through each song piece by piece, dissecting it by every element. I don't know how many hundreds of hours of programming there are in the show, but it's very moment-specific for every song.”
In addition to the Studio Colors and Studio Spots®, the rig includes 37 HES Turbo Cyberlights, four x.Spot™ HO units, 66 ETC Source Fours (in varying sizes), 24 color scrollers, 12 ACL bars, and two ETC Sensor dimmer racks, with control provided by two Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® II consoles linked together, because, Horowitz says, “We have more channels than one console can deal with.” The gear not owned by Yanni was supplied by Delicate Productions.
Horowitz notes that the Cyberlights are used to create beam patterns, pickups on musicians' solos, and fly-in and fly-out beam effects. The Studio Spots provide air graphics and coverage of the rhythm section, while the x.Spots are mostly aimed at Yanni and solo vocalists who make downstage appearances. Indeed, lighting the star is, perhaps, even more important than usual, as he is often projected, via five video cameras, on a 17'×36' (5×11m) screen located at rear center stage. “We spent a lot of time working with the video elements,” to get the right look, Horowitz adds. Indeed, as in Yanni's music, harmony and balance are the keys to overall effect.
Other personnel on the tour include lighting crew chief Donald Jacobelly, spot director Ryan Nicholson, dimmer tech Kevin Royan, and electricians Trevit Cromwell and Paul Eaves. The Ethnicity tour concluded in June and was taped for DVD release.