Dance of the Blessed Spirits

To evoke the necessary mood for our latest music video, we surrounded the piano in breezy silks and filmed our performance in ultra slow motion — at 120 fps, to be exact. Of course, this presented us with an incredible challenge while filming: in order to sync the footage with our previously recorded audio, we had to perform the piece four times fast. Think "Flight of the Bumblebee" fast.

In the end, we think it was worth the struggle. We aspired to create a film that conveys the beauty and eternity of Orpheus & Eurydice's tragic love ... as if we were them, lost in the underworld, surrounded by spirits.

Find the sheet music here.


We are thrilled to present our newest music video:

Filmed last October on location throughout New York City, this was one of the most high-octane shoots we've ever undertaken. In devising the concept, we wanted to accentuate the mind-boggling aspects of Steinway's new Spirio* instrument while paying homage to the Big Apple: the provenance of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, Steinway & Sons, and our duo itself. (Incidentally our alma mater Juilliard now stands at the very locale of Bernstein's beloved, brilliant musical.)

In the history of our music videos, the scope of this project was unprecedented in terms of its location-per-duration ratio. (In two short minutes, we basically traverse Gotham!) When Greg and I originally conceived the concept of the video, we imagined the Spirio working its magic in various iconic NYC sites; in order to bring this vision to life, we had to jump through a variety of daunting logistical hoops (while trying to focus on our "day job," i.e. concerts), such as crisscrossing the city during the scouting process, applying for permits and insurance, anxiously awaiting approval of these applications, then anxiously checking the hourly weather forecast as the shoot approached ("What's the precipitation percentage??"), and finally schlepping one of the rare Spirios in existence from borough to borough. Such feats were made possible by our excellent producer, Victoria Sendra (who also collaborated with us on our Taylor Swift video, which we shot later that weekend) and our supportive colleagues at Steinway. Normally our filming operations are super small—just Greg and me with one or two people helping out—but this time, we utilized a talented and enthusiastic (yet still relatively condensed) film crew. When the first day of filming finally arrived, it was a butterflies-in-stomach sensation to arrive at Washington Square Park just after sunrise and take in the sight of the Steinway piano, grand and gleaming, between the famed arch and fountain. Amid the intensity of the day's schedule, I made sure to soak in the scene as well the excitement of the crowd that spontaneously gathered around us. (Shout-out to the NYU students, sightseers, and urbanites hanging out at the park that day!)

Some standout memories of Day 1:

  • Teaching our extras to shout "MAMBO!" on cue and urging them to jive to the music
  • Cutting my finger on the inside of the piano during our "percussion" shenanigans #bloodonthekeys
  • Getting photographed by celebrity photographer Christopher Peterson and appearing on his Instagram feed immediately after we wrapped our park footage (let's just say I was tickled to be featured among the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alexa Chung, and Naomi Watts):
  • Eating lunch with the crew on the park grounds, dazed and trying to process the epic madness that had just unfolded!
  • Right after lunch, piling into a cab to a street corner in trendy Greenpoint and watching the movers unload the Spirio in front of a graffiti-laden backdrop (with the Manhattan skyline majestically in view from another angle)
  • Jamming with our friend, Juilliard violist Drew Alexander Forde, for the Brooklyn scenes:
  • Finding random folks on the street to join our shoot, including the guys who supported our "busking" efforts and a mother riding on a tandem bicycle with her adorable kids (we love the gung-ho spirit of New Yorkers!)

Day 2 of the shoot took place at the Steinway Factory in Astoria (also the mise en scène for our spooky music video of Schubert's Der Erlkönig). This time we filmed in a cavernous woodshed on site, which was impressively lit by John Frisbie. We chose this location as a direct reference to the birthplace of the American Steinway instruments, but also for its raw, urban quality (a nod to the ghetto of West Side Story). We juxtaposed the grit of the environment with glamorous outfits and lighting for a cinematic feel.

Waiting between takes ... behind-the-scenes at the Steinway Factory in Astoria, NY

Waiting between takes ... behind-the-scenes at the Steinway Factory in Astoria, NY

In the end, this video celebrates bold innovation, joyous collaboration, and NYC's inimitable spirit. We give our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who brought their invaluable energy, skill, and passion to this project, and we thank YOU for watching! EJR (+ GA)

*Here is a video of us speaking about the Spirio, filmed last year after our very first encounter with this unique, state-of-the-art instrument:

Shake It Off!

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present our latest music video:

Taylor Swift is undeniably one of the biggest superstars of our time, obliterating sales records left and right with her catchy and canny songs (thus keeping the recording industry afloat), selling out stadiums worldwide, and inciting countless conversations about feminism, power, commerce, celebrity, aesthetics (country or pop?), philanthropy, #squads, and so much more. She is beloved yet scrutinized, a receptacle for both dreams (see the legions of passionate Swifties who idolize this down-to-earth dynamo) and controversy (albeit unwitting and often imposed by others—the infamous Kanye incident at the 2009 VMAs and the media's colorful speculations on her love life immediately spring to mind). Amidst all the hype, Taylor has stood tall and resolute, largely thanks to a recently (i.e. 1989-era) claimed attitude of "shaking it off." All of us, in every walk of life, can take possession of our own happiness by ignoring the "haters" and abiding by our own truth. A powerful message indeed.

As children of the '80s and aficionados of pop culture, Greg and I decided to take on "Shake It Off" and transform it into a virtuoso two-piano mini-fantasy, incorporating elements of minimalism, jazz, and dubstep. I personally couldn't resist the call of 1989 when it was released, and it became an oft-played album on my phone ... or should I say "Walkman"? ;-) The confidence and cohesion in Taylor's new sound appealed to me, and I also enjoyed Ryan Adams' introspective homage to this record (especially his covers of her massive hits "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood"). Taylor's songwriting prowess and autonomy over her artistic trajectory deserve respect; she writes from the heart and refuses to let her creative voice be dimmed (in the harsh glare of the spotlight, no less). Moreover, she seems to genuinely care about connecting with her fans in a generous way. We admire these qualities of hers.

This video is an ode to Taylor's craft and persona, with its vintage look and styling: "You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye / And I got that red lip classic thing that you like" (to quote "Style," another excellent 1989 track). Crimson lipstick? Check. Cateye? Check. Minidress? Check. Dapper guy? Check. With the Grammys airing on Monday (she is nominated in categories across the board, including the coveted "Album of the Year") we wanted to pay tribute to her charismatic, romantic, and irreverent spirit.

We filmed the video on a chilly autumn day at the Steinway Factory in New York City with filmmaker Victoria Sendra, an imaginative and intrepid collaborator. Her background in dance served us well: she literally ran circles around us dozens of times to give the camerawork a swirling and ecstatic feel, and when we asked her to "get in our way" in order to capture action-packed shots of our hand and arm gymnastics, she managed to do so with grace and precision. (Per usual, Greg and I also had great fun behind the camera, experimenting with an array of different vantage points and movements.) To be sure, the dancelike energy of the video is an affectionate nod to Taylor's dance-centric "Shake It Off" music video. And while we wished we were swathed in warm coats and scarves during the shoot (A&R music videos = sacrifice of personal comfort!), we treated ourselves to a very satisfying meal at Roberta's afterward. As always, we give our heartfelt thanks to the awesome team at Steinway; placing two valuable concert grands alfresco is no small feat!

And as you can see in the third image above, Greg's video editing is a piece of art unto itself, a mosaic of ideas and images...

Hope all of you enjoy our cover and video! "It's like I got this music in my mind / saying 'It's gonna be alright.'"

Yours in Swiftiness,
Liz (& Greg)