Elton John to Debut Live, Remote Piano Technology

Elton John has a formal relationship with Yamaha, meaning he endorses their pianos and sometimes assists in their promotions. Credit Richard Mushet via Wikimedia Commons.

Elton John has a formal relationship with Yamaha, meaning he endorses their pianos and sometimes assists in their promotions. Credit Richard Mushet via Wikimedia Commons.

The Franklin office of piano maker Yamaha was given a big assignment for the company’s 125th anniversary: throw a concert heard around the world. Literally.

When Elton John takes the stage at Disneyland Friday night, he’ll effectively be playing pianos in Moscow, Vancouver, and Seol. Every stroke of the key and tap of a pedal will be measured by a computer and instantly reproduced on real, acoustic pianos in roughly 60 cities across the world.

The concept of a computerized player piano is nothing new. Disklaviers, as they’re called, have been on the market for a quarter century. But in the past, they only played recorded performances, not live ones.

Yamaha Entertainment Group CEO Chris Gero says the hope is that live communication between instruments will go beyond spectacles like this week’s concert.

“Now a master class can be taught in Tokyo, taught to 500 kids around the world, and it be completely tactile.”

The concert falls to Gero’s office because they handle Yamaha’s efforts to have musicians showcase the brand. As of last fall, that includes an in-house record label based in Franklin.

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