When Bach meets Jackson 5

When The Piano Guys play, the lilting harmonies of Bach meet the funk of The Jackson 5 and Vivaldi meets Elsa in a frozen mash-up between Winter and Let It Go.

The Utah-based quartet have built a successful career out of colliding classic and contemporary in cheekily titled videos such as I Want You Bach and Rock Meets Rachmaninoff.

Since their formation in 2010, Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek have uploaded more than 35 videos on their YouTube channel, which has more than 3.7 million subscribers.

Their most watched video is a cover of Christina Perri's A Thousand Years using the piano and cello, which has racked up more than 43 million views since May 2012. In comparison, the pop singer herself has only about 1.3 million subscribers.

Now, across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they are gaining 1,000 to 2,000 new followers a day, in addition to about 3,000 new subscribers daily on YouTube.

Speaking to Life! over the telephone, cellist Nelson, who at 37 is the self-professed "baby of the group", says: "YouTube has effectively provided a more accessible means for artists like us to tour the world without leaving our hometowns."

He adds that for the group, whose members are aged between 37 and 48 and have 16 children among them, "leaving home is a very challenging thing".

Nonetheless, they tour. They will be performing on two nights at The Star Theatre here next week. They were last here in 2013 and played to close to 5,000 concertgoers at the same venue.

For their concert in Singapore, Nelson says their setlist will be chosen based on the YouTube response to their songs, with a few surprises thrown in. "It's the people choosing what we play live, which is really fun for us. It's sort of like our greatest hits."

They will also be including comedy sketches, similar to their previous concert's nod to Star Wars in a bows-as-lightsabers duel. "We're all just nerds at heart," Nelson gleefully lets on.

While some of their videos are arrangements of popular songs such as Swedish House Mafia's Don't You Worry Child and Coldplay's Paradise, the group also incorporate iconic classical compositions into their works.

Faure's Pavane and Beethoven's Ode To Joy are just some of the many themes which have been given fresh twists in their hands.

Nelson says: "One of the ingredients we love to use is classical music, just as we use pop, jazz, oldies, funk, disco and just about anything out there.

"There are wonderful melodies in classical music that are so good, they have been around for hundreds of years.

"Hopefully, showing people the highlights of classical music like we do will draw them in and make them dig a little deeper."

Nerds or not, The Piano Guys have not let fame and their sold-out concert tours get to their heads.

"We're not rock stars," says Nelson. "We're not even near to rock stars. We're just ordinary guys, four dads from Utah, who have found a place to put their music.

"Our career is built on the shoulders of people who have supported us."

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