The Piano Guys

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Biography

Hailing from Utah, The Piano Guys became an Internet sensation […]
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Hailing from Utah, The Piano Guys became an Internet sensation by way of their immensely successful series of strikingly original self-made music videos. They’ve made over 35 since joining forces in early 2011, including their hit video, an innovative 10-handed version of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” But it’s the Guys’ highly original blend of classical music with pop that has really been the cause of an Internet phenomenon that brought them to their major label self-titled debut album released on Sony Music Masterworks in 2012.  This release was followed by their sophomore album, The Piano Guys 2, holiday album, A Family Christmas, and recently released Wonders, all available now on Portrait, an imprint of Sony Music Masterworks.

The Piano Guys have performed everywhere from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to The Today Show as well have been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Buzzfeed, People Magazine, Mashable and so on.  Their remarkable video for “Batman Evolution,” off the album Wonders, featured Batmobile replicas of the 1966 version, the 1989 and the Tumbler from The Dark Knight. The scenes were shot in the style of the show/movie they appeared in so that it’s an evolution of Batman as the music follows the progression as well.

But just who are The Piano Guys? Actually, there’s only one piano player, Jon Schmidt, and one other instrumentalist, Steven Sharp Nelson, on cello. Yet the other two – Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek – are equally significant members of the group. The Piano Guys’ name comes from Anderson’s piano store in St. George, Utah, which was called The Piano Guys. Looking for an alternative to low-yield conventional advertising, Anderson devised a Facebook promotional page and YouTube channel featuring the most famous pianist he could find – local pianist, Jon Schmidt. A self-described “New Age Classical” player, Schmidt was indeed well-established locally, thanks to eight albums and seven piano books of his song transcriptions. He also performed concerts throughout Utah, one of which featured a young guest artist, Steven Sharp Nelson, who adventurously combined traditional cello playing with percussion effects. “I was 15 when I met Jon and started playing with him,” Nelson recalls. “I had to get a ride to shows! But we’ve had a great brotherhood that’s now lasted 20 years.”

When Nelson moved from Salt Lake City to the suburb of Sandy, providence, if not serendipity, intervened. Al van der Beek, who came from a musical family and played several instruments and sang, lived down the street from Nelson’s new place and helped him move. “I suggested we ‘collaborate’ sometime and he hesitated because I think he didn’t want to disappoint me if I was horrible!” says van der Beek, laughing. “But,” says Nelson, “I checked out his home studio and started playing some of my unfinished songs, and he told me what the titles should be and their meaning – and finished them on the spot! The guy is music incarnate!” In The Piano Guys, then, van der Beek is charged with the studio operations, as well as co-writing and some vocal texturing, music arranging, “and a lot of percussion work,” adds Nelson.

Anderson was so taken by the music of Schmidt and Nelson that he closed his store at the end of 2011 in order to devote himself to the group, which only became a full-time operation in February 2012. “I had to let the piano store go!” he says, laughing. “Some of the pianos are still in storage and have been used in the videos.”

The spectacular Piano Guys videos, which have so far netted nearly 600 million YouTube views (their YouTube channel also has over 3.6 million subscribers), are essentially divined by Anderson. “Jon had built up a fan base for 20 years, and we used that as a springboard for getting exposure,” Anderson notes, “but it’s all about the merits of the videos, and share-ability. People see them and then share them with their friends on Facebook, and before you know it, they can take off.”

And sure enough, The Piano Guys have over 1,277,706 Facebook fans who have shared videos like “Michael Meets Mozart,” which features over 100 tracks of cello textures, including a deep bass drum sound created by tapping on the cello body; a shaker sound made by Nelson rubbing rosin on his bow; and a record-scratch noise caused by his scraping a quarter on the strings. “Michael Meets Mozart” is on The Piano Guys debut CD, as is “Cello Wars,” the ambitious video which resulted from a six-month production required to realize its Star Wars-inspired light saber/cello bow concept, since rewarded by over 14 million YouTube views.

“We try to put a ‘wow factor’ in every video,” says Anderson, promising that future videos for The Piano Guys tracks will likewise factor in plenty of wow. This certainly is true for “Peponi (Paradise),” the Guys’ African spin on Coldplay’s “Paradise,” for which the group, hours after coming up with the concept, helicoptered a grand piano onto the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff, where stellar African guest vocalist Alex Boyé sang the translated words. Same with “Code Name Vivaldi,” which blends The Bourne Identity soundtrack riff with a similarly intense Vivaldi cello concerto in a breathless video culminating with Schmidt and Nelson, who was originally swayed into classical music by the Vivaldi piece, performing on a flatcar on a high-speed train. Titanium/Pavane” is a mash-up of French classical composer Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane” with David Guetta’s “Titanium.” – the Guys having previously lensed a lovely take on Guetta’s “Without You.” A clip will certainly be created for “Arwen’s Vigil,” a Piano Guys original. “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” merits special mention. The piece itself employs five separate melodies from the four movements of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, in conjunction with One Republic’s “Secrets.”

“We love showcasing the beauty of the earth—where people don’t expect to find classical instruments,” says Anderson, and sure enough, the Beethoven video combines stunning outdoor performance footage from the mountains surrounding St. George, Utah, with a concert featuring the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, thereby manifesting The Piano Guys’ dual goal of bringing people to classical music and inspiring young musicians.

“Lots of parents are using our music to show their kids how fun classical music can be and motivate them to learn instruments,” says Schmidt. The Piano Guys’ cover song mash-ups, adds Nelson, have become “a great way to introduce ourselves and make an instant connection with our audience as a classic spin on new stuff – and a new spin on classic stuff.”

With van der Beek’s studio prowess together with the inventive cinematography of Anderson, Schmidt and Nelson have forged a fresh approach to the growing classical crossover fusion of classical and pop music that in their case has connected quietly but emotionally with a massive audience.

“We’re all spiritual guys, and the only way to properly explain it is not to take credit!” says Nelson. “It really seems meant to be.”

March 2015

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Press Release

THE PIANO GUYS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM UNCHARTED BUSTING GENRE BOUNDARIES, UTAH CHART-TOPPERS FUSE MOVIE THEMES, CLASSICAL, AND POP, ADDING FIRST-EVER VOCAL SINGLE Album Available Now On Tour Now

THE PIANO GUYS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM UNCHARTED  BUSTING GENRE BOUNDARIES, UTAH CHART-TOPPERS FUSE MOVIE THEMES, CLASSICAL, AND POP, ADDING FIRST-EVER VOCAL SINGLE Album Available Now On Tour Now With over a billion YouTube views of their more than 50 music videos, The Piano Guys announce the release of their new album Uncharted (Portrait). Released on October […]
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THE PIANO GUYS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM UNCHARTED

 BUSTING GENRE BOUNDARIES, UTAH CHART-TOPPERS FUSE MOVIE THEMES, CLASSICAL, AND POP, ADDING FIRST-EVER VOCAL SINGLE

Album Available Now On Tour Now

With over a billion YouTube views of their more than 50 music videos, The Piano Guys announce the release of their new album Uncharted (Portrait). Released on October 28, it includes the upbeat new song “Okay” written by hit-makers Andy Grammer and Dave Bassett. The “Okay” music video is on YouTube now – check it out here as well as the music video for their cover of Justin Timberlake’s hit “Can’t Stop The Music” – view it here.

Uncharted literally charts new territory for The Piano Guys. Continuing their “Wonders of the World” quest, they’ve shot three of their recent hit videos far afield – Scotland, Mexico, Jordan – while “Okay” shows them in the recording studio where they create their inspirational music, and in front of a cheering crowd of 20,000 at the USANA Amphitheatre in their home state of Utah.

Uncharted features all their recent hits, including “Fight Song/Amazing Grace” (video filmed in Scotland), “A Sky Full of Stars,” “Hello/Lacrimosa,” “Jungle Book/Sarabande” (video shot in Chichén Itzá, Mexico), and “Indiana Jones and the Arabian Nights” (video filmed in Petra, Jordan), all available for the first time on CD. The Deluxe Edition includes a DVD featuring all of those recent hit music videos.

The Piano Guys weave their magic from a cornucopia of musical sources. Fusing pop hits from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Adele, Coldplay and Rachel Platten with Hollywood scores from legendary masters like John Williams and Hans Zimmer; timeless classical pieces from Mozart, Händel and Rimsky-Korsakov; and their own original compositions, emerging with a tapestry of inventive, inspiring songs with multigenerational appeal.

“We’ve now ventured deeper into “uncharted” territory than we could have ever dreamed of traversing,” says Steven Sharp Nelson, the group’s cellist, explaining both the album’s title and the band’s ongoing fan-fueled journey. It’s not just the far-flung video locations; the music itself isn’t limited to any one genre or chart. “We hope it transcends conventional classification and instead reaches beyond boundaries, finding audiences from all walks of life that want positive content and fresh takes on old and new music,” Nelson says. “Also, it’s actually very difficult to accurately ‘chart’ our music into sheet music since it features so many unprecedented and untranscribable sounds. Combine all of these elements with more of our signature fusion of film score, classical music, pop and original music, our first vocal single, and even more groundbreaking textures and sounds, we believe this to be our best record yet. We can’t wait for people to hear it!”

The Piano Guys – Steven Sharp Nelson, Jon Schmidt, Al Van der Beek and Paul Anderson – became an online sensation by way of their immensely successful series of strikingly original self-made music videos, which recently surpassed 1 billion views and garnered over 5 million subscribers on YouTube. The band has played sold-out concerts around the world, accrued a massive social media following, topped the Billboard charts, and made over 50 music videos since 2011, including their breakout hit, an innovative multi-handed version of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” and a gorgeous reinvention of the hit song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. Uncharted is the four Utah dads’ sixth major label album on Portrait/Sony Music Masterworks. It follows Wonders, The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, a holiday album called A Family Christmas, and most recently The Piano Guys – Live! -featuring live music from their sold out Red Rocks and Carnegie Hall concerts. Uncharted is available physically and digitally now.

Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh, Portrait, Masterworks Broadway and Flying Buddha imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.SonyMusicMasterworks.com.

For more information on The Piano Guys and tour dates visit:

Website: www.thepianoguys.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePianoGuys/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pianoguys

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PianoGuys

Instagram: http://instagram.com/thepianoguysofficial

Buy Links:

iTunes – http://smarturl.it/Uncharted-itunes

Amazon – http://smarturl.it/Uncharted-dlx-cd

Google Play – http://smarturl.it/Uncharted-gp

 Listen to tracks from the new album Uncharted here:

Spotify – http://smarturl.it/Uncharted-str

Apple Music – http://smarturl.it/Uncharted-am

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

 

Nov. 30                       Westminster College                      New Wilmington, PA                       Tickets

Dec. 1                         PPAC                                        Providence, RI                                   Tickets

Dec. 2                         Kupferberg CPA                     Queens, NY                           Tickets

Dec. 3                         Shea’s PAC                             Buffalo, NY                            Tickets

Dec. 6                         DPAC                                       Durham, NC                           Tickets

Dec. 7                         Lyric Opera                            Baltimore, MD                                  Tickets

Dec. 8                         State Theatre                                    Easton, Pa                             Tickets

Dec. 9                         Newark Prudential Hall      Newark, NJ                            Tickets

Dec. 10                       Hershey PAC (Matinee)       Hershey, PA                           Tickets

Dec. 10                       Hershey PAC  (Evening)       Hershey, PA                           Tickets

Feb. 15                                   Broward Center                    Fort Lauderdale, FL              Tickets

Feb. 16                                   Phillips Center                                 Orlando, FL                            Tickets

Feb. 17                       Florida Theatre                    Jacksonville, FL                    Tickets

Feb. 18                       Ruth Eckerd Hall                  Clearwater, FL                                   Tickets

Feb. 21                       Thomas Wolfe Auditorium            Asheville, NC                                    Tickets Soon

Feb. 22                       Ovens Auditorium                Charlotte, NC                         Tickets Soon

Feb. 23                       Chrysler Hall                         Norfolk, VA                            Tickets

Feb. 24                       Carpenter Theatre               Richmond, VA                                   Tickets

Feb. 25                       Gaillard Center                    Charleston, SC                                  Tickets Soon

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