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The Piano Guys
The Piano Guys are four 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.
Steven 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. Tel Stewart, who worked as a piano mover for Anderson, joined the group but now works for them only occasionally.
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.
Over 3 million subscribers to their YouTube channel. Their video of “Let It Go” had over 27 million views. Their “Mission Impossible” video with Lindsey Stirling gleaned over 8 million views as of November 2014. Each of their videos quickly pulls in more than 1 million views.
The Piano Guys were invited to participate in the December 2014 video created along with the effort to claim the Guinness Book of World Records’ title for largest live Nativity, which was achieved with over one thousand participants. The final video premiered on The Piano Guys’ YouTube channel and attracted over seven million views. Along with the live Nativity, The Piano Guys, David Archuleta, Peter Hollens, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”
The group has appeared on television, toured internationally, and released multiple videos. They released new CDs “Pop Meets Classical” in September 2014 and “Wonders” in October 2014.
They debuted at Carnegie Hall in March 2015. Anderson has set the goal to video the group in front of each of the New7Wonders of the World. They have filmed on the Great Wall of China and by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Next will be Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Roman Colosseum.
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.
- Frozen, based on music from the Disney movie "Frozen." They had the location picked out and were searching for a song to film, when the Disney film burst onto the scene. Filmed in the ice castles in Midway, Utah, they combined “Let It Go” with themes from Vivaldi’s “Winter.”