SINGAPORE – American classical musicians and YouTube stars The Piano Guys have made videos of themselves playing at iconic locations such as the Great Wall of China and in the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico.
If they had their way, their next performance location would be at one of Singapore’s most recognisable locations.
Cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, 45, says in a recent Zoom interview: “One of these days, we’ve got to put a piano and cello on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, right on that endless (infinity) pool that sits there and drips off into nothing.”
The Piano Guys – which also comprise pianist Jon Schmidt, 56 – are indeed heading back to Singapore for a show, but their Tuesday gig will take place at a more traditional concert venue – The Star Theatre.
It is a stage the Utah-based duo are familiar with – they played there back in 2013, 2015 and 2018.
Nelson, who is looking forward to being back, says: “Singapore is one of our all-time favourite places to be. It was really one of the most important places for us since the beginning of The Piano Guys in terms of an international location.”
He fondly recalls their first time at The Star Theatre, where they ended up spending three hours after the concert meeting fans and taking photos with them.
“We just love the warmth of the Singaporean people. We love the beauty of the country, and we absolutely love chilli and black pepper crab.”
Like in the 2018 show, they are looking for local musicians to open their concert.
In February, concert organisers LAMC announced a contest for musicians from music school Yamaha for that particular reason.
Nelson says the idea to have Singaporeans perform came from LAMC co-founder Lauretta Alabons, whom he calls “one of our favourite promoters”.
“We love the idea of supporting local musicians – that’s a really critical aspect of our show.”
Known for playing classical renditions of pop and rock hits from singers and bands such as Christina Perri, OneRepublic and Coldplay, The Piano Guys gained fame in 2011 when their YouTube videos started going viral. Their channel now boasts 7.06 million subscribers and more than 2.2 billion views.
Their discography includes seven albums such as The Piano Guys (2012) and 10 (2020), which went to No. 1 on the United States classical album charts.
Their most recent album Lullaby, which contains covers of The Police’s Every Breath You Take and Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger, was released in 2021.
The Piano Guys also regularly release new batches of songs on YouTube as well as music streaming services and Spotify and Apple Music.
Asked how they decide which songs to cover, the pair of fathers listen to their children’s choices. The music must, above all, be family-friendly.
Nelson says: “We get lots of suggestions from our kids. They’re really helpful with picking the tunes. We only work with tunes that we’re okay with our kids listening to.”
A big part of their repertoire is putting a new, unexpected twist to popular songs. Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine, for example, was turned into a classical piece, while rock anthem Eye Of The Tiger became a lullaby.
He adds: “We like people hearing something familiar, so they associate themselves with it, and yet we put it in an unfamiliar tone, so that they are pleasantly surprised by it too.”
Book it/The Piano Guys Live In Singapore
Where: The Star Theatre, 04-01 The Star Performing Arts Centre, 1 Vista Exchange
When: Tuesday, 8pm
Admission: From $88 to $208 via Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)