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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. The group has gained momentum through countless media venues including The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Katie Couric, Fox News, YouTube, Facebook, and the list goes on. Their creativity knows no bounds. They shoot their music videos with a grand piano and cello in extremely dangerous locations at times, such as on a cliff. You never know what is coming up next.
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 genres, ranging from Classical to Pop, sometimes in the same piece. They don’t shy away from combining any types of music, even if that means incorporating Mozart into Michael Jackson. In describing their genrebending sound, Steven Sharp Nelson calls it “familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.” Al van der Beek says, “There’s no rulebook, there’s no specific music theory that we stick to.” Jon Schmidt simply states, “We just know when it feels right, you know?”
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 fan base.
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 Van Der Beek soon joined the group to handle production and recording. Paul Anderson is their cinematographer.
From YouTube Videos to Recording Studio
The began producing videos for YouTube. In June 2011, their YouTube channel, which today has more than 5.5 million subscribers, won the “On the Rise” contest for the most up-and-coming channel. As of late March 2017, their videos have been viewed more than a billion times.
In September 2011, they signed a recording contract with Sony. By the end of 2011, Anderson had closed his piano shop to work full time for the group. 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 album was released in October 2012.
Although they often film on location, in 2012, the group considered recording a Christmas video which became the highlight of their career. The video was 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 typically used for the filming of short Bible story videos. They also recorded a special Christmas version of the video for the Mormon Channel.
With 5.5 million followers on YouTube and an average of 5,000 new subscribers every day, each of their videos quickly pulls in more than 1 million views. For example, their video "Let It Go (Disney's "Frozen") Vivaldi's Winter" has garnered more than 74 million views. And their video "Mission Impossible" featuring world-class violinist Lindsey Stirling has received over 16 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. With the help of over one thousand participants, the goal was achieved. The final video premiered on The Piano Guys’ YouTube channel and as of late March 2017 has been seen by more than 15 million viewers. 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.
In March 2015, they debuted at Carnegie Hall. Anderson has set the goal to video the group in front of each of the Seven Wonders of the World. They have filmed on the Great Wall of China and by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. They have also filmed in Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Roman Colosseum, and Petra.
Apart from releasing frequent music videos, The Piano Guys released 5 CDs: The Piano Guys, The PianoGuys 2, The Piano Guys Wonders, The Piano Guys A Family Christmas, and The Piano Guys Live!
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