Elton John’s phantom fingers: the remote presence piano show of your dreams
Trent Wolbe experiences a phantom Elton John
It was a dark and stormy night in Sherman Oaks and I was not ready to add a new emotion to my repertoire. There was a grand piano in the corner of the showroom at Keyboard Concepts and Sinbad was on the TV next to the piano. All of us were getting tired of waiting for Elton John. Those of us on the couch could wait it out no problem but Sin’s improvised routine, which had been running on fumes for half an hour, finally puttered out at 11:08. He passed the mic to the Senior VP of Yamaha, also improvising as he explained to us that we were making history as the audience of Elton John’s first-ever Remote Live broadcast: all of this audio was radiating warmly from inside of the grand piano, a Disklavier DC1E3. An ethernet cable ran discreetly from the back of the instrument to a hub that also hosted the laptop that feeding the TV its signal. Forty-five minutes after his scheduled appearance Sir Elton took his seat and launched into the opening bar of “Your Song” but nothing very historical-feeling was going on quite yet. A few bars later the Disklavier display blinked into consciousness, “RemoteLive Start!!,” and the black and white keys began to move exactly as if Elton were there but Elton was in Anaheim at the Hyperion Theatre with Toto and Sarah McLachlan and Michael McDonald.