The other ‘group’ that I discovered, quite by accident, last year is the fantastically talented 'The Piano Guys'. I cannot remember what I was actually looking for on Youtube, but noticed them on the suggested list of stuff that appears on the side. Being a huge fan of piano music, decided to have a look-see, and am so glad I did.
(from left) Jon Schmidt, Al van der Beek, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson
The whole thing was started by Paul Anderson (group’s producer and videographer), the owner of a piano store, called The Piano Guys, and he wanted to try a different, novel approach to get people interested in pianos, and to buy pianos, which he believed he could do through Youtube and Facebook. One day, Jon Schmidt, a pianist and composer, walked into his store and asked if he could practice on one of the pianos in preparation for a concert he was doing that night. Paul broached his idea to Jon, and asked if he would be in a video promoting the store, and also Jon’s music. Jon knew Steven Sharp Nelson, a cellist; they’d been performing in concerts together since they’d first met and shared a stage together when Steven was 15. The fourth member is Al van der Beek (music producer and songwriter). When Steven moved to the same road, they got together and began writing music together.
Jon had been composing music since he was 11 (!), and already had a 20-year solo career when he started with The Piano Guys. He composed this piece, 'Waterfall', when he was 17. Steven is a pioneer in ‘cello-percussion’, which combines traditional cello techniques with percussion techniques, nicely highlighted in 'Moonlight'. He started learning the cello at age 8, percussion at age 12, and guitar at age 17. He's also a songwriter.
Their music tends to be ‘mash-ups’ of, usually, a classical piece and a contemporary piece. All the music you hear is the piano and the cello, but there are so many layers, and all the percussion is done on the cello! They are so tremendously talented; so far, I’ve enjoyed every piece of music I’ve listened to. Not easy choosing just a few for the blog …
This is the first one I listened to, 'Titanium/Pavane'. It’s not just the music that's beautiful, they film their videos in gorgeous surroundings, which adds to the enjoyment. At the end of this one, there’s a little snippet showing how the different sounds are made on the cello.
This is one of my absolute favourites – 'Paradise/Peponi'; has a distinct African flavour to it ...
This one, 'Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends', was shot on the Great Wall of China … the beginning is so tender and moving, then the pace picks up ...
Shall also mention 'What Makes You Beautiful'. I cannot bear to listen to this when it’s sung by One Direction – ‘hate’ is a strong word, but I do have an aversion to ‘boy bands’. But ‘The Piano Guys’ version … love it!
Watching various snippets of videos, not only are they very talented, they all come across as really nice guys, with a great sense of humour. And, personally, I could watch Steven Sharp Nelson play that cello all day, every day :)