Music Worth Exploring: ThePianoGuys
The photograph above decidedly does not represent ThePianoGuys. However, it does reflect how much music means to my family. The musicians from left to right, are a close family friend (Lee), my brother (Marek), my oldest son (Jeremy), and my other brother (Gregory). The occasion is Thanksgiving dinner at my house two years ago.
The women were inside cooking and setting the table; the grandchildren were joyously underfoot inside and outside; the four cats had wisely retreated and were hiding under one of the beds; and the men (or most of them, anyway) decided to retreat to the garage for a musical jam session. Their music was great and so was their fellowship.
A perfect moment in family and musical time captured on film. I want to share some music with you that we think is amazing performed by two extraordinarily gifted musicians.
Bring Him Home from Les Miserables
Quite by accident, perhaps by spiritual design, I stumbled upon the music of ThePianoGuys about a year ago. You know how it goes, while searching YouTube for a particular song you find something else equally, if not more wonderful than what you wanted to hear. Well, I found ThePianoGuys, and I promptly listened to everything they had posted on YouTube (there was no DVD or MP3 available at that time).
Of course I inflicted them (shared is what I meant) upon all my friends and family. When you receive an unexpected and generous gift, you want to share it with others. A couple of months later I bought their CD. They are wonderful musicians, but they are also extremely visual. I could try to explain what I mean by that, but I would much rather show you. You do not need to be a fan of Vivaldi or the "Jason Bourne" films to appreciate this.
Bourne and Vivaldi
ThePianoGuys consists of five individuals with various occupations, possessing quite different skill sets, from different locations in the United States. Each of them individually had a well established career: a piano store owner/videographer (Paul Anderson), a music producer (Al van der Beek), a videographer/editor (Tel Stewart), a pianist (Jon Schmidt), and a cellist (Steven Sharp Nelson).
Together they possessed the tools, passion, and drive needed to create an extraordinarily successful music video production company.
Rolling in the Deep - Adele
After they began collaborating ThePianoGuys quickly took off; they produced numerous high quality music videos and posted them to YouTube. In December 2011 they released their first album through ThePianoGuys channel on YouTube. Their popularity and YouTube views have increased exponentially and by September 2012, they had signed a contract with Sony. Their first album was released by Sony Masterworks on October 2, 2012.
Jon Schmidt, often described as a New Age Classical pianist, had previously released eight albums and seven piano books of his song transcriptions, and was quite well known locally. He met Steven Sharp Nelson, who combined traditional cello music with unusual cello based percussion effects, when Steven was just fifteen. They started playing together, eventually performing concerts throughout Utah.
Desert Symphony - Southern Utah
Hailing from Utah, The Piano Guys quickly became known for their immensely successful series of self-made music videos. However, it is the unique combination of classical, pop, and rock music that has generated their phenomenal success. The fact that Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson are incredibly gifted and amazingly innovative musicians, of course has contributed to their meteoric rise.
As ThePianoGuys have said, "Our vision is to create music and videos that inspire people. We want to take that music to the world and make a difference. . . . . We like to put a new spin on classic stuff and a classic spin on new stuff. " All five members of the group clearly put their heart and soul, as well as a great deal of hard work, into every composition they write and every musical video they produce.
PianoGuys Version of Cold Play's "Paradise" (Peponi)
As you will see in the following two videos, ThePianoGuys, especially Steven Sharp Nelson and Jon Schmidt (watch for him, because he is in the video as well, just not playing a piano). have quite a sense of humor. They see no conflict between beautiful classical music and whimsical, humorous videos. In fact the two - gorgeous classical music and humor - often go together quite well.
The first selection begins with a very serious rendition of Pachelbel's Canon intended for what is usually a solemn occasion, a wedding. In no time at all the music has been transformed into Rockelbel's Canon with Four Cellos and the wedding becomes a joyous and celebratory party. All this is accomplished courtesy of Steven Sharp Nelson, who plays all four cellos, and of course the other members of ThePianoGuys production team.
Our final selection, "What Makes You Beautiful" orchestrated by Jon Schmidt, is without a doubt a beautiful piece of music, but to fully appreciate its intricacies, and to understand how closely the five members of the group work together, you simply must see the video. Enjoy!