Ready...set...MAMBO!

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: