Biography - Yanna Zissiadou
Yanna was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. She has lived in the UK since 1993 and is a proud citizen of both countries. An educator, concert pianist conductor, accompanist, coach and proud grandmother of three beautiful girls, Yanna now enjoys life as a retired teacher and freelance musician.
Her music heritage transcends the traditions of her family’s ancestry (Asia Minor) and the diversity of her musical education and her parents’ unusual taste in music which encompassed anything from Sinatra and Theodorakis to Tchaikovsky and Verdi. Yanna frequently accompanied her parents and their friends on the piano reading from a faded 'fake book' photocopied sheet with all the Greek Tangos, Waltzes and Ballads of the 1930s and 40s whilst they sang in 3 and 4-part harmony.
Yanna is an experienced and eclectic pianist. Whilst still a student at the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki, she was awarded the Dimitri Sgouros ‘Prize and Scholarship’ in 1987. During the same year she won a competition to represent Greece in the senior category at the ‘Jugend Musiziert’ competition in Frankfurt. She graduated in 1988 with the ‘Diploma for Piano performance and teaching’.
During her years at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yanna won the Cipriani Potter Exhibition Scholarship Prize in her second year as a student of the ‘Advanced Studies’ postgraduate course. She studied piano with Hamish Milne, conducting with Denise Ham and Chamber Music with Malcolm Martineau. Yanna graduated with the 'Diploma of Advanced Studies' in 1990. An influential figure was the late John Streets MBE FRAM; a distinguished musician and hugely supportive tutor.
In 1989 Yanna toured Texas U.S.A. performing as a soloist with the Bochum Youth Orchestra following a successful performance with the same orchestra in Thessaloniki in 1987. After graduating from the RAM, Yanna took a year out to tour Europe giving solo and chamber music recitals.
in 1991 she was accepted at the Eastman School of Music, U.S.A. where she studied piano with Jeffrey Kahane.
It was at the ESM that she discovered her love for music, musicology, theory, forged lifelong friendships, worked in one of the busiest Concert Offices, was inspired by the Montessori education system and performed a vast amount of chamber music. It was there that she met and worked with leading authority on fortepianos Malcolm Bilson and gained an insight on 18th and 19th century performance practices. She gained her Master’s in ‘Piano Performance and Literature’ in 1993 and following a short spell back in Greece she made the decision of returning to the UK where she has lived ever since.
Yanna taught the piano in Greece since she was 16 years old and continued in the U.S.A. and UK for a few years until she decided to venture out as a secondary school music teacher and a Head of Music in numerous schools across the UK until 2016, when she decided to retire from classroom teaching.
Yanna was, and still is, a staunch supporter of young musicians. Throughout her career she strived to encourage young people to find their voice and believe in their abilities, regardless of whether they want to make music their career or not.
As the Co-Director of the first 'Sani Classic' and alongside Caroline Lumsden and Mina Lazarides they forged the first 2-week classical music festival in Sani Resort. An international youth orchestra was formed and conducted by 4 conductors giving 7 concerts with distinguished soloists. Yanna’s role was to recruit orchestra members, support the 78-strong orchestra, soloists and conductors but also perform as an accompanist, soloist and conductor; an immensely rewarding and humbling experience.
Yanna has conducted small ensembles, bands and amateur orchestras but she mostly enjoyed conducting big scale Musical productions from the piano. She worked with choirs and amateur dramatic and operatic societies. She was always adventurous in her programming believing that both audience and performer can be taken out of their comfort zones without the risk of casualties!
Working with amateur musicians has been hugely fulfilling. Yanna has collaborated with many schools and organisations to create large scale events always striving to bring people together through music, regardless of age, background or ability.
As a retired teacher and going back to her original roots as a concert pianist, Yanna has recently co-founded Animo, a flute and piano duo, with friend Sarah Waycott. Both at home in intimate and grand scale settings, Yanna believes in letting music speak for itself and directly to the audience.
Yanna and her wife, a writer, have just completed a lifetime project of renovating their home in Gloucestershire. She now aims to start recording Greek piano music for YouTube from their new Music Room playing on a brand new Bosendorfer 214 VC; a superlatively sensitive handcrafted instrument.
Yanna believes in living life to the full and sharing music without borders or conventions.