ThePianoGuys: Live At Red Butte Garden
Airs Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. on KPBS TV
Originally published March 4, 2013 at 12:43 p.m., updated March 7, 2014 at 2:02 p.m.
Filmed at a September 19 sold-out concert at a stunning outdoor venue in Salt Lake City, Utah, "ThePianoGuys: Live At Red Butte Garden" is the television concert premiere of a musical group on a meteoric rise. YouTube sensation ThePianoGuys, featuring Steven Sharp Nelson on cello and Jon Schmidt on piano, perform such favorites as “Peponi,” an African version of Coldplay’s “Paradise” featuring singer Alex Boyé, their mash-up of the "Bourne Identity" soundtrack with Vivaldi’s “Double Cello Concerto,” and a brand new cover of David Guetta’s “Titanium."
While ThePianoGuys produce beautiful music, they are best known for their interpretations of well-known favorites. For a mash-up of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Simple Gifts,” the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic and One Voice Children’s Choir accompany the band. When performing Beethoven’s “Five Secrets,” groups of philharmonic musicians planted in the audience stand up one by one to join in, playing their own instruments in an orchestral flash mob.
Also on the program are ThePianoGuys’ versions of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” Dave Guetta’s “Without You,” Christina Perri’s “Thousand Years” and “Bring Him Home” from "Les Misérables." The concert special incorporates some of the duo’s YouTube videos such as “Cello Wars,” cellist Steven Sharp Nelson’s take on the "Star Wars" theme.
ThePianoGuys, newly signed to Sony Masterworks, are five Utahans: Jon Schmidt, the Piano Guy; Steven Sharp Nelson, the Cello Guy; Al Van Der Beek, the Music and Studio Guy; Paul Anderson, the Producer and Videographer Guy; and Tel Stewart, the Videographer and Editor Guy.
Amazingly, the group came together through an advertising campaign for Paul Anderson’s Piano Guys music store in St. George, Utah. Looking for low-cost and effective promotion for the store, Anderson created a Facebook page and YouTube Channel and hired local pianist Jon Schmidt to perform. Anderson’s store began producing the YouTube videos that characterize ThePianoGuys and, in the process, stumbled upon a musical sensation.
ThePianoGuys’ elaborate YouTube videos, showcasing stunning Utah locales, have received more than 160 million views. They grow 3,000 to 5,000 new YouTube subscribers while their channel garners 500,000 to one million views a day.
“Our passion is to put pianos and cellos in crazy locations,” says Anderson, who eventually closed his store to devote himself full-time to the group. “We’ve had them on 1,000-foot cliffs, on moving trains and jumping out of planes. We love making these videos. Someone once asked us, ‘Where do you see yourselves in five years?’ We said, ‘If we can keep doing what we’re doing, that’s where we want to be.’”
They say their vision is to create music and videos that inspire and uplift. “We like to put a new spin on classic stuff and a classic spin on new stuff,” says Anderson. “Whatever we do, we put our heart and souls into every note and frame.”
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