Flexibility is key in the music industry, especially the music video industry.
Classical pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson shot their most recent YouTube masterpiece in local music venue Muse Music Cafe. The video was intended to be shot in a Salt Lake alleyway, but poor weather forced the duo indoors. Schmidt’s videographer called Muse, looking to rent the venue for the day. They brought in a $110,000 piano, a film crew and the works, setting the stage for Schmidt and Nelson’s “Michael Meets Mozart.” The duo is returning to Muse tonight and recreating the setting for a local concert.
The crew filmed the video in the back room of Muse, a venue which usually hosts rock shows. For Muse, this was definitely a departure from the norm. Justin Hyatt, a manager at Muse, thought the video provided a nice contrast to the club’s regular features.
“It’s fun to help any musician out — they become a part of the community,” Hyatt said. “He’s a classical pianist playing a really nice piano in a rock venue. It’s the same kind of juxtaposition as Michael Jackson and Mozart.”
Schmidt and Nelson were grateful for Muse’s hospitality at such short notice.
“This was our first big go at a real video,” Nelson said. “Muse was a huge blessing; without it we wouldn’t have been able to pull things together.”
Schmidt and Nelson first “went viral” in 2009 with “Love Story meets Viva La Vida,” a mash-up of Taylor Swift and Coldplay. With more than 1 million YouTube views, not to mention an almost constant rotation at the Wilkinson Center’s piano, the compilation is both well-known and well-loved. “Michael Meets Mozart” is the duo’s most recent piece, featuring a combination of hip-hop and classical music.
Finding the perfect mash-up is a bit of science, a lot of things can go right and a lot can go wrong. Overall, it’s a unique music trend that allows for another facet of creativity in making music.
“The process is part experimentation and part inspiration,” Nelson said. “You have to keep everything fresh and new. Without lyrics to break it up, mash-ups bring a new element — it becomes a brand new song.”
“Michael Meets Mozart” was a labor of love, taking nearly six months to complete. Schmidt and Nelson wanted to create a unique sound, recording more than 100 different cello tracks to achieve the music heard in the video. Everything from a piano opening and closing, two types of cellos and a penny against a cello’s strings were used to create the full range of sounds, Nelson said.
Schmidt and Nelson are putting on a show at Muse tonight, recreating the atmosphere of the popular video.
“Expect a light and spontaneous show, we usually shoot from the hip,” Nelson said. “We have old and new favorites and a small, intimate setting can make for the best show.”
Admission for tonight’s concert is $16 and tickets can be purchased through musemusiccafe.com