The Piano Guys treat UConn to entertaining, inspiring performance

Members of The Piano Guys are seen performing at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, Connecticut on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

“Has anyone seen our videos here tonight?” Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys shouted across the University of Connecticut’s packed Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

The audience responded with a deafening roar of confirmation.

The Piano Guys, four dads famous for their successful series of YouTube music videos that combine classical music and pop, treated a fans both young and old to an energetic and entertaining show Friday night.

Opening the concert with a mash up of Vivaldi’s “Winter” and “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, elicited a thunderous applause that would be repeated numerous times throughout their performance.

Schmidt and Nelson also entertained the audience with their humorous banter and anecdotes.

“Thumbs up for the dude who doesn’t even know what instrument he’s playing,” Nelson deadpanned, quoting a commenter who stumbled across The Piano Guys’ channel for the first time when watching one of their few cello-only videos.

Besides making the audience laugh, The Piano Guys’ goal to inspire their fans, especially the young, was obvious.

“It lit me on fire as a kid,” Nelson said when speaking of Vivaldi’s “Double Cello Concerto.”

His and Schmidt’s performance of its mash up with the Bourne soundtrack, complete with its music video playing synchronized above them, was clearly meant to encourage any aspiring musicians watching them. 

Another memorable moment of the night was Schmidt and Nelson’s riveting improvisation of U2’s “With or Without You.” Nelson—switching to an electric cello—used a loop pedal to create stunningly intricate layers of sound that mesmerized the audience. 

Following this touching performance, Schmidt—in an astounding feat of flexibility—lifted his foot onto the piano and performed “Heart and Soul” with his fingers and toes.

“How do I keep up with a loop pedal?” he joked. 

Not only did The Piano Guys play mash ups and covers, but Schmidt also performed an original solo piece called “Summer Jam,” which he said was supposed to evoke the feeling of a warm summer night. 

Before intermission, the other two Piano Guys, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek, joined Schmidt and Nelson on stage to perform their mash up of Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching” and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” The men’s love of music was obvious as they whistled, clapped and plucked on the piano together. 

After intermission, Nelson opened with a solo performance of “Secrets” by OneRepublic. About halfway through, he was joined by several young violinists from the Jorgensen’s JOY! Conservatory program, prompting enthusiastic cheers from the audience. 

All four of The Piano Guys returned to the stage when they closed the show with one of their most popular covers, “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction.

“Thanks for making us feel loved… we love you right back,” Schmidt said. 

After the show, the audience’s adoration and admiration for The Piano Guys was obvious. 

“It’s a stunning performance and the guys are really great. I’m lucky to be here,” Pavel Koval, first-semester PhD student in linguistics said.

Emma Florian, a first-semester pre-teaching major expressed similar sentiments. 

“It was great. I’ve been listening to The Piano Guys for a long time and I’m really glad to finally see them live,” Florian said.


Helen Stec is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.