PASO ROBLES — Dane Senser and his family recently attended the Yanni Acropolis Anniversary concert at Vina Robles Amphitheatre for a reason one could never imagine.
Senser and his family also attended a Yanni concert 25 years ago as a tribute to his brother, Karl, who should have been there with them, but was brutally murdered in a San Diego carjacking.
Karl Senser, who worked as a clipper for the local newspapers and as a ballroom dancing instructor, was planning on going to the Yanni concert in San Diego in the early 90s. He was dreaming about how wonderful it would be to take his mother, Mildred, as a Mother’s Day gift.
But Karl Senser never made it to the show.
Instead, on Mother’s Day, when he was returning from a retreat with two female friends in Borrego Springs, 43-year-old Karl Senser was kidnapped, robbed and murdered. Two men killed Senser so they could drive his car back to their home in the same city, a violent act that was later found to be part of a string of crimes the men committed in San Diego at the time.
This tragedy shook Senser’s family of 10 to their core. Senser said his father never recovered. The killers were sent to prison and the family was left with the broken pieces.
Senser, an Atascadero local whose career has included working as a wine country tour guide in the North County, copes with the loss of his brother by finding ways to remember him.
Dane Senser said after his brother’s death he searched for signs from his brother and yearned to keep a connection with his spirit. He learned of his brother’s love for the music of Yanni, who was known to “blast Yanni at all hours.” At the Yanni concert after his brother’s passing, the family bought an extra seat in Karl’s memory and, by chance, after the another Yanni concert, Senser’s brother Richard was working at the front desk at the same San Diego hotel Yanni was stopping at on the next leg of his tour.
A string of events found Dane Sensor and his brother sitting and talking with Yanni and actress Linda Evans (Yanni’s lady friend then and still now). Yanni was touched by Senser’s story, and arranged for the brothers and the rest of the family to attend his concerts along his tour, from San Diego to San Jose to Chicago, Ill. His kindness and compassion struck a chord with Senser.
Now, two-and-a-half decades later, Senser said a day does not go by without listening to Yanni’s music, and though he didn’t start out a fan or even know of Yanni’s music, he has been a devoted fan ever since meeting the legendary performer and composer his brother so loved. As a special treat, his sister bought him a V.I.P. pass to meet Yanni before his show at this year’s June “Meet and Greet” at Vina Robles in Paso.
Senser said the concert and meeting with Yanni was both surreal and exceptional.
“It’s like meeting an angel again,” he said.
He said both he and Yanni had lost their parents over the years, and in talking to him, he learned the performer is both spiritual and philosophical. His jovial nature has developed in time, Senser said, and the seriousness of life has melted away. Senser said Yanni told him that moments when he learns that his compositions have reached people’s souls were the very reason he creates music.
“The whole thing was such a healing and therapeutic thing for our family,” Senser said of the twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity, saying he and Yanni were once again in tears. Yanni shook his hand and told Senser to give him a hug. After all these years, Senser said Yanni and even some of Yanni’s staff and family, had remembered what had happened to his brother.
When Senser met Yanni in person they talked about it for a long while. Then Senser handed him a piece of prose inspired by Yanni’s song, “Love Is All.” In it, Senser wrote: “The darkest place in our universe can never stop the light of a single candle burning.” That candle is for his dear brother, Karl, forever within his heart.
Dane Senser (far right) stands with Yanni (second from left) and his family after the Yanni concert back in 1994. (Photos courtesy of Dane Senser)
R.I.P Karl Senser, one of Yanni’s biggest fans.
Dane Senser with Yanni at this month’s concert at Vina Robles. (Photo courtesy of Yanni)