The Million Dollar Piano! You may have been lucky enough to see the show live, many international travelers to Las Vegas have. Now everyone can see Elton John’s amazing Caesars Palace spectacular, The Million Dollar Piano on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Since September 2011, international mega-star Elton John has been playing a residency at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas based around Yamaha’s amazing technological achievement, the Million Dollar Piano. Audiences have not only been able to experience many of the legend’s worldwide hits such as Bennie And The Jets, Rocket Man, and Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), but also marvel at this unique piano.
“I’m going to have a fabulous piano that Yamaha have been working on for four years, and that’s the reason why the show is called The Million Dollar Piano,” said Elton John prior to the show’s launch.
So what makes this 9′ concert grand piano and performance so spectacular? Apart from Elton’s incredible repertoire and showmanship, the piano itself shares equal billing. The Yamaha piano features an exterior casing made of angular panels, which creates reflections that cannot be achieved on a regular polished ebony surface. It really is a perfect combination of technology and art. Rather than being supported by wooden legs, the Million Dollar Piano rests on prism-like acrylic foundations that reflect and refract light and make the piano appear to float or hover above the ground.
Where the visual wow-factor really comes into play though, is the state-of-the-art 3mm HD-resolution video LED panels, which delivers crisp and ultra-vivid colour. Sixty eight LED video screens and programmable LED lights are used to transform the piano into an ever-changing array of images, patterns, lights and colours.
Built-in MIDI sensors in the keyboard not only mean that technicians are able to trigger and manipulate light, sound, video and other effects in real time but Elton too has a degree of control. Depending on how hard or soft he makes contact with the keys, he is able to add sonic enhancements and trigger visual effects.
Make no mistake, the instrument, which weighs 3,200 pounds (1,451 kg), is not just a visual showpiece. This pristine sounding piano is a highly-modified, hand-assembled Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano, with harp and hardware made from nickel as opposed to conventional brass.
The Million Dollar Piano project began as a collaborative creative concept between Elton John and Chris Gero of Yamaha Entertainment Group.
“What if the piano was, first of all, a work of art, and, secondly, it was a chameleon onstage?” Gero told Broadwayworld.com earlier this year about his initial thoughts on the project. “What if it was part of the set and it featured into different musical pieces because it can morph with video? Or, what if it became the epicentre of the moment, just based on the mood of the song?”
It was 29-year old Akie Hinokio of the Yamaha Design Lab who came up with the final piano design. It was important to Yamaha, that not only would the piano offer amazing visual capabilities but it also needed to function as a premium grand piano. Once the piano had been created, it just required Elton’s famed performance magic to bring it to life.
The LA Times said of the show: “To fully appreciate the spectacle that is Elton John’s new show The Million Dollar Piano at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, you have to pay attention to the details, such as the jumbo piano-roll swirls that flank the piano player and change colors throughout the night, shifting from gold to ruby to emerald to sapphire. Not that you can miss them. They’re the size of stretch SUVs. Or the pair of cocker spaniel bas-reliefs tucked at the base of another set piece, representing John’s two canine companions, which sit beneath a handful of cupids leaning on a ledge and peering down amid bountiful grapevines. Or the tennis-court-sized screen behind John and his five-piece core band, which displays dozens of animated backdrops to accompany the songs, moving from glowing sunsets and spinning candelabras to carnival scenes to live-action clips of John throughout the years in many ridiculous outfits.”
The wonderful band featured in the Million Dollar Piano film includes Davey Johnstone (guitars and vocals), Nigel Olsson (drums and vocals), the late Bob Birch (bass), John Mahon (percussion and vocals) and Kim Bullard (keyboards) plus 2 cellists (Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic), backing vocalists Rose Stone, Tata Vega, Jean Witherspoon and Lisa Stone. The Million Dollar Piano show was also a perfect opportunity for Elton to bring back long-time friend and percussionist, Ray Cooper. “It’s joyous to be back again,” Ray said of the reunion, “especially with Elton. He was the first person to give me the key, which opened so many other doors.”
Elton John’s Million Dollar Piano show is an ongoing residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and tickets can still be purchased, or you can watch the DVD or Blu-Ray in the comfort of your own home. For a taste of the show, view Elton performing I’m Still Standing from the concert film below.
For more information on Yamaha pianos: au.yamaha.com
WIN A BLU-RAY COPY OF THE MILLION DOLLAR PIANO
To win one of 5 Blu-Ray copies of The Million Dollar Piano, email us and tell us which American city the show was filmed in
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Competition open to Australian residents only. Entries close Thurs 31 July, 2014