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.

Her music heritage transcends the traditions of her family’s ancestry (Asia Minor) and the diversity of her musical education and her parents’ eclectic taste in music which encompassed anything from Sinatra and Theodorakis to Wagner and Verdi.

Yanna is an experienced pianist and accompanist. In 1987 she was awarded the Dimitri Sgouros ‘Prize and Scholarship’ by the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki from where she graduated in 1988 with the ‘Diploma for Piano performance and teaching’. In the previous year she won a Youth Makes Music competition to represent Greece in the Senior category at the ‘Jugend Musiziert’ competition in Frankfurt.

During her years at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yanna won the Cipriani Potter Exhibition prize in her second year as a student in the ‘Advanced Studies’ postgraduate course. She studied Advanced Studies piano with Hamish Milne, conducting with Denise Ham,  Chamber Music with Malcolm Martineau and 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. Yanna graduated the RAM in 1990 and took a year out to tour Europe giving solo and chamber music recitals. 

Yanna was accepted at the Eastman School of Music, U.S.A. in 1991 where she studied piano with Jeffrey Kahane. It was there that she discovered her real 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 she worked closely with Malcolm Bilson, an influential piano pedagogue and specialist in early keyboard instruments and 18th-19th century music.

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 until she decided to change direction and pursue a new career path as a secondary school music teacher. She was appointed Head or Director of Music in three of the  seven schools she taught in, across the UK. In 2016, she made the decision to retire from classroom teaching and find other pursuits outside music or education.

Alongside Director Caroline Lumsden and Mina Lazarides, Yanna forged the first 'Sani Classic' Festival in Halkidiki Greece in 1994.  Yanna conducted the 78-strong orchestra with one of Greece’s most famous pianists George Lazarides, performed Beethoven’s Triple with the Tivoli Trio and accompanied Greek leading Soprano Julia Souglakou.

Yanna has conducted small contemporary music ensembles, wind and brass bands and amateur orchestras but she mostly enjoyed conducting Musical Productions from the piano. Yanna worked extensively and for over 12 years with amateur Theatre and Opera companies but also Choirs as an accompanist both in London and Gloucestershire. She founded a Children’s Choir in the Forest of Dean and a Youth Choir within Gloucestershire’s Music Hub.

Working with amateur musicians has been hugely fulfilling. As part of her role as Director of Music or as a P/T teacher of Music, Yanna collaborated with many schools and organisations to create large scale events always striving to bring people together through music.

In 2018 Yanna has 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 now aims to start recording Greek piano music for YouTube and Soundcloud from her new Music Room (now established as Animo’s ‘Eden’s Hill Studio’) playing on a Bosendorfer 214 VC. She hopes ANIMO will take her on a new journey of performing live all over the world. Part of this new career drive is commissioning ‘new music’ for Animo as well as premiering new works for solo piano.

Yanna believes in living life to the full and sharing music without borders or conventions.