“I’m transcended and transfixed every time”; “My faith in humanity has been restored”; “I was hooked from the very first note”. These are some of the multitude of fan responses to The Piano Guys’ performances on YouTube. And the YouTube sensation, with a large fan following, has finally made it off the net and onto the stage for all to see live.
The two main musicians, Jon Schmidt (Piano) and Steven Sharp Nelson (Cello), are a couple of dads from Utah whose mission, along with their partners Al Van Der Beek (Song Writer) and Paul Anderson (Producer), is to impact people in a positive way thorough their style of musical collaboration.
Both Jon and Steven were very humble and charismatic as they joked with each other on stage and with the audience. Their mutual admiration and friendly competition—piano v. cello—was quite entertaining.
What’s special about The Piano Guys’ performance is that they are able to intermingle various songs as they play. The melodies of the songs in which they select to mesh fit perfectly together and create a whole new transcending vibe.
While listening to The Piano Guys, many of the audience members closed their eyes in order to truly absorb all of the heavenly and transcending melodies that Jon and Steven produced through the various songs they played. Some of my personal favorites are their cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” and “Paradise” (Peponi – African Style), and Christina Perri’s “1000 Years”.
At one point in the show, Steven explained to the audience the differences between the three cellos with which he performs, and the difference in sound that they make. Steven uses a cello made out of fiber optics, an electric cello, and a traditional cello. The electric cello is quite a work of art all its own, with an “S-like” curvature. But no matter which cello Steven plays, he produces a sound that takes the listener to another planet.
The most touching of all their covers is their rendition of One Direction’s “Story of My Life.” As they played, the accompanied video in the background tells the story of a little boy who plants a tree as a child, meets a little girl, they become friends, and as the tree grows, so do they and their love for one another. After that performance, there probably was not one dry eye in the entire theater.
The most beautiful part of The Piano Guys’ videos is that they are mostly filmed in outdoor, natural settings. Because their music is so pure and transcending, the natural settings are a perfect match to the majesty of their musical creations. The lush green forests and golden pastures; the snow-lined streams; the red rock mountains and landscapes of Utah and Arizona; and the historical landmarks such as The Great Wall of China, add an extra mystique to The Piano Guys’ already exceptional genre of music.
The show ended with Jon and Steven inviting their partner in music, Al Van Der Beek, to perform their most popular cover; One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”, using only the inside strings, keys, and the body of the piano to produce this unique rendition that sets them apart from the rest.
At the end of their set, there was a standing ovation from the audience who cheered and screamed, “Encore, encore.” Of course, The Piano Guys were thrilled and humbled at the same time, and obliged to give their fans what they wanted; more music.
A truly magical night of strings and keys, The Piano Guys are a group that will continue to delight and enliven new and old fans with every performance and new covers of songs they choose to bring to life in a whole new way.
For more information about the Piano Guys and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, please visit:
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Review & Photos by Sophia M. Papadopoulos
Additional Photos by Matthew Mountford