THE PIANO GUYS
JON SCHMIDT & STEPHEN SHARP NELSON
FRIDAY & SATURDAY OCTOBER 19-20New age classical pianist John Schmidt has been making waves on YouTube (and in concert halls around the country) for his compositions with cellist Steven Sharp Nelson. The duo, under the name of The Piano Guys, have amassed millions of hits with their mash-ups of classical and popular music.
The Piano Guys will bring their unique and entertaining style to the Cox Performing Arts Center as part of Dixie State College Celebrity Concert Series on Friday and Saturday, October 19-20, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.
John Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson have been performing together for several years; they were both established artists individually before joining forces as The Piano Guys. Schmidt has eight albums and millions of song downloads to his name, along with original piano scores and a television special. Nelson has performed with the China Philharmonic Orchestra, and one of his recent symphonies was featured on the number one classical podcast and has over 38 million downloads. They both seamlessly combine humor and entertainment with unique inspiration and spirituality in their performances.
Jon Schmidt describes his style as "New Age Classical." He was born to German immigrants who acquainted him with the works of such composers as Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. He began songwriting at age 11. To date, he has released eight albums and seven piano books containing transcriptions of original arrangements.
His work is often described as New Age music with pop elements of hook and melody. He is also noted for his treatment of harmony, counterpoint, and rhythm. His works were also featured on sample discs for the Iomega Hipzip Digital Audio Player with the pieces "Sacred Ground", "All of Me", and "Waterfall." Schmidt's influences include Mannheim Steamroller, Billy Joel, and Beethoven.
Jon currently has more than 2.04 million hits on YouTube for his piano/cello arrangement of Taylor Swift's "Love Story" and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida", which is called "Love Story meets Viva La Vida"
Steven Sharp Nelson is a pioneer in “cello-percussion"—an alternative performance method that combines traditional, lyrical cello techniques with unconventional pizzicato and percussive technique. He was born and still resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. He began studying cello at age 8, percussion at age 12 and guitar at age 17. He has invented a new method of playing the cello that combines elements learned from each of these instruments.
He has studied the cello (still his primary instrument) under Ryan Selberg, Stephen Emerson, and John Eckstein. He obtained a degree in music from the University of Utah School of Music, graduating in 2002.
Nelson's true cello career began when he was 15. He was recruited by Peter Breinholt to arrange string parts and perform with Breinholt's band, Big Parade. Since then he has recorded on over 100 different albums ranging from folk & bluegrass to hip hop. He has also made his way as a solo artist. His first album Sacred Cello (2006) was atop the Billboard Charts. He has since two more solo albums that have also received significant acclaim (Tender Mercies, 2008 and Christmas Cello, 2010)
Nelson also teams up often with pianist Paul Cardall, as well as Schmidt, and has written most of Cardall's orchestrations. Nelson's shared performance and compositions with pianist Marshall McDonald are also of note. Among other works, Nelson and McDonald have composed two symphonies together (Spanish Trail Suite, 2006 and Africa, 2008), the second of which was featured in the number one classical podcast in the world and was download over 30 million times.
Nelson's influences include Victor Borge, Bobby McFerrin, Peter Schickele, Yo Yo Ma, U2, Sting, and James Taylor. His trademark style is to always including parody, comedy, and musical “shtick" in every performance.