To become a YouTube star, you need only two things.
A camera and a dream. Granted, skill helps. Possibly a good gimmick. Maybe some famous fans. Definitely loads of hard work. And, for the men of 2Cellos, those two cellos certainly didn’t hurt, either.
The Internet sensations turned classical music rock stars will play a sold-out show at the Gallo Center for the Arts on Thursday. Modesto singer-songwriter and Valley’s Got Talent winner Francesca Bavaro will open the show.
Classically trained Luka Sulic, 27, and Stjepan Hauser, 28, are the two cellists. Like fellow YouTube classical-crossover stars the Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling, who have both played sold-out shows at the Gallo Center, the Croatian duo have amassed millions of views for their imaginative takes on popular music.
In 2011, the pair’s performance of the Michael Jackson hit “Smooth Criminal” catapulted 2Cellos into viral-video fame. The duo soon was invited to play for Ellen DeGeneres. Sony Masterworks signed the act to a record deal that same year. Elton John called the men personally to ask them to join his worldwide tour. The players even reprised their “Smooth Criminal” hit for a special Jackson tribute episode of the Fox TV series “Glee.”
Since then, the cellists have covered Coldplay, Rihanna, AC/DC, and many more. They’ve toured the world with their own headlining show, selling out arenas. Hauser said their success comes from stretching the bounds of what people think about the cello.
“We have always liked different kinds of music,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald recently. “If we just stick to one kind of music, our creativity is limited. We wanted to extend the audience for the cello, especially the younger people, and to show them how cool and how powerful and how diverse the cello can be.”
Their frenetic, dueling, string-shredding style of play also attracts new fans, many of whom wouldn’t normally go to a classical concert. They’ve also been able to translate their music videos onto the live stage and popular albums. The duo released its third studio album, “Celloverse,” in late January. It debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard Classical and Classical Crossover charts.
The new album features covers of the Paul McCartney and Wings hit “Live and Let Die,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and U2’s “With or Without You.”
But Sulic and Hauser said their skills aren’t just in taking popular music and rock songs and making them classical pieces. It’s about finding music that transcends.
“We try not to divide music into categories,” Hauser told the Albuquerque Journal last month. “We take the piece of music as a whole and look for the message in the music.”