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YouTube champions: Utahn musicians Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson win video contest, expect 40 million views

Published: Thursday, June 23 2011 11:17 p.m. MDT

Pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson are well-known in Utah for their music. Thanks to winning a YouTube contest, their fame is spreading.

With the help of "some amazing video people" (aka ThePianoGuys, who own a Yamaha Piano dealership in St. George), Schmidt and Nelson recently released a couple of new music videos on YouTube. "Michael Meets Mozart" features Schmidt at the piano and Nelson playing a variety of cello and cello-like instruments (spare auto parts, anyone?). "The Cello Song" has Sharp playing with eight selves as he answers the question: "What if the coolest music ever written for one cello was actually written for eight cellos?"

The videos proved instantly popular online and ended up in YouTube's "hits" charts.

"We were subsequently nominated by YouTube as 'rising stars' and they pitted us in a week-long competition against three others, including the Harlem Globetrotters, who have also recently released videos that have garnered attention," Nelson says.

After a week of voting, which closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Schmidt and Nelson came out on top, with 63 percent of the votes. Their videos now will be posted on the front page of YouTube and on YouTube's Facebook/Twitter accounts, where more than 40 million people are expected to view them. "And there might be a few more perks," Nelson says. More information about the contest can be found on YouTube's blog

Besides the Globetrotters, who finished second, the other nominees included a "recreational mathematician" named Vi Hart; and Tommy, a chihuahua, and Gracie, a cat, who are best friends.

Find out more about the musicians at www.jonschmidt.com and www.stevensharpnelson.com.

Email: carma@desnews.com

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