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The Piano Guys
The Piano Guys are five men, all musicians, husbands and fathers, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church are often mistakenly called Mormons.
The Piano Guys form a musical group, some performing onstage and some working behind the scenes, to create videos and music that are capturing the hearts of people around the world. Their music is a mesh of several different styles, ranging from classical to pop, sometimes in the same piece.
The group began when Jon Schmidt was in St. George, Utah, and needed a place to rehearse for an upcoming concert. He located a piano store owned by Paul Anderson and the two became friends. Anderson felt there was great potential in Schmidt, who was popular in Utah, but not nationally. He was looking for ways to promote his store more effectively and set up a Facebook page and YouTube channel featuring Schmidt, who already had eight albums and a large local following.
Stephen Sharp Nelson, who is a cellist, was a featured guest artist at one of Schmidt’s concerts when he was just fifteen. He became the second musician for the group when it formed, and the group was named after the store. Anderson took on the role of studio engineer. They sought advice from Al Van Der Beek, who lived down the street from Nelson. Nelson played some of his unfinished songs for Van Der Beek, who quickly showed him how to title and finish them. Al soon joined the group to handle production and recording, as did Tel Stewart, who worked as a piano mover for Anderson and is now the videographer.
They began producing videos for YouTube. In June of 2011 their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers, won the “On the Rise” contest for most up-and-coming channel. In September of that year, they signed with Sony. By the end of the year, Anderson had closed his piano shop to work full time for the group, and in February of the following year, the group became a full-time operation. Today, they are widely known through television appearances, specials, and tours. Their first album was released in December of 2011, and their second in October, 2012.
Although they often film on location, The Piano Guys considered the filming of a Christmas video in 2012 the highlight of their career. They filmed on a set in Goshen, Utah, that was built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to resemble ancient Jerusalem and is typically used to film short videos of Bible stories.
Their popular YouTube videos include:
- Michael Meets Mozart, a mash-up of classical and hip hop using more than one hundred tracks to give the impression of a large orchestra, a common technique in their recordings. The name of the video references the music’s homage to Michael Jackson and Mozart.
- The Cello Song, an adaptation of J.S. Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude Moonlight, which was written by Steven Sharp Nelson and inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and the 7th Symphony.
- Rock meets Rachmaninoff, based on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor.
- Cello Wars, based on Star Wars music.