THE PIANO GUYS Bring 'Christmas Together' to The Palace
The Piano Guys became an internet sensation by way of their immensely successful series of strikingly original, self-made music videos that showcase their highly innovative blending of classical and pop. They've created more than 65 since joining forces in early 2011, including an innovative, 10-handed version of One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" that became an internet phenomenon and led to the release of their self-titled debut album in 2012. The Piano Guys are currently touring in support of their seventh studio album, Christmas Together.
CAPA presents The Piano Guys: Christmas Together at the Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.) on Wednesday, December 5, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $50-$178 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.
The Piano Guys consists of only one piano player, Jon Schmidt, and one other instrumentalist, Steven Sharp Nelson, on cello. Yet the other two - Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek - are equally significant members of the group. Their name comes from Anderson's piano store in St. George, Utah, which was called The Piano Guys. Looking for an alternative to low-yield, conventional advertising, Anderson devised a Facebook promotional page and YouTube channel featuring the most famous pianist he could find - local pianist, Jon Schmidt. A self-described "New Age Classical" player, Schmidt was indeed well-established locally, thanks to eight albums and seven piano books of his song transcriptions. He also performed concerts throughout Utah, one of which featured a young guest artist, Steven Sharp Nelson, who adventurously combined traditional cello playing with percussion effects.
When Nelson moved from Salt Lake City to the suburb of Sandy, providence, if not serendipity, intervened. Al van der Beek, who came from a musical family and played several instruments and sang, lived down the street from Nelson's new place and helped him move. "I suggested we 'collaborate' sometime and he hesitated because I think he didn't want to disappoint me if I was horrible!" says van der Beek, laughing. "But," says Nelson, "I checked out his home studio and started playing some of my unfinished songs, and he told me what the titles should be and their meaning - and finished them on the spot! The guy is music incarnate!" In The Piano Guys, van der Beek is charged with the studio operations, as well as co-writing and some vocal texturing, music arranging, "and a lot of percussion work," adds Nelson.
Anderson was so taken by the music of Schmidt and Nelson that he closed his store at the end of 2011 in order to devote himself to the group, which only became a full-time operation in February 2012.
The spectacular The Piano Guys videos have so far netted more than 1.2 billion YouTube views (their YouTube channel also has more than 5.4 million subscribers) and their Facebook page has more than 4.6 million fans.
"We try to put a 'wow factor' in every video," says Anderson, promising that future videos for The Piano Guys tracks will likewise factor in plenty of wow. "We love showcasing the beauty of the earth-where people don't expect to find classical instruments," says Anderson.
With van der Beek's studio prowess together with the inventive cinematography of Anderson, Schmidt and Nelson have forged a fresh approach to the growing classical crossover fusion of classical and pop music that in their case has connected quietly but emotionally with a massive audience.