It’s a YouTube sensation! The 2Cellos latest music video – their take on AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ – has gone viral, with over 12 million views to date. Watch it and you’ll never view the cello – or Thunderstruck – the same way again! It’s certainly an amazing performance; but even more amazing to me is that it was filmed in Porec, at our little theatre, and features the local ‘Friends of Giostra’ as the audience! How did that happen? Dying to find out more, I spoke with Elena Uljancic-Vekic, Giostra’s founder and director of the Porec museum.
“It was very simple,” explained Elena. “I know both Stjepan Hauser (one of the 2Cellos) and Kristian Burlovica (the producer) – Stjepan comes from Pula and has played in Porec Basilica many times, and Kristian produced our Giostra video. ‘Friends of Giostra’ is a society of local people who get together to celebrate baroque life and culture, as our video shows. So when the 2Cellos came up with the idea of setting Thunderstruck in this period, Kristian immediately thought of us.”
Before I saw this clip, I hadn’t heard of the 2Cellos, so perhaps I should quickly introduce them. They are Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic, two young Croatian cellists who graduated from British music schools in 2011 (Luka from the Royal Academy of Music in London and Stjepan from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester). They’ve both been winning musical awards since childhood and were set for great classical careers … until they decided to break the mould.
“Stjepan first made his name as a Bach specialist,” continued Elena. “So the 2Cellos wondered how an 18th century audience would have reacted, if the musicians had broken into hard rock rather than the expected Bach cello suite?” As the video shows, they would have been … thunderstruck!
Making a video
Few of us ever get to appear in a music video, especially one which will go on to be seen by millions, so what was it like, I asked Elena? “Extremely exciting,” she said. “When I got Kristian’s call, I couldn’t believe it. We were being asked to perform with the 2Cellos – wow! I am a big fan: I went to see them perform in Pula last summer , but I never expected to meet them or get to work with them! Everyone else in Giostra was equally excited, especially all the ladies. We’re just a small, local group and, while we’ve performed throughout Istria and at some international festivals, we’ve never done anything like this. It was a huge honour: great for the ‘Friends of Giostra’, great for Porec … and great fun.”
All the filming took place in a single afternoon. For the Giostra team, it started at 8 am with make-up and hair – and with seventy extras to prepare, it took quite a while. At 10:30 everyone else arrived: filming started at 1 pm and by 6:30, it was all finished. As Elena said, “It was all very fast and efficient.”
“The thing that impressed me the most was the team’s professionalism,” she said. “They knew exactly what they wanted from us, and how to get it. Every move was choreographed, yet they managed to make it look totally spontaneous.”
She was equally impressed with the 2Cellos themselves. “Their focus and endurance was amazing. And they were such nice guys … despite being mobbed at times!” As Elena puts it, some of her ladies ‘perhaps got a little over-enthusiastic’! It’s a sentence that conjures up a scary image – a hoard of clamouring, bewigged baroque ladies, in full war paint and huge dresses. It sounds terrifying, but Elena said Stjepan and Luka took it all in their stride. “Despite working so hard,” she said, “they had time for everyone and even signed some of our petticoats!”
This isn’t the first time the 2Cellos have ventured from the expected classical repertoire. They first rose to fame in 2011, when their version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal became a YouTube smash. It led to a record deal and a world tour with Elton John.
Happiest when playing live, the 2Cellos have since had a string of sell-out tours of the Far East, US and Europe. “Of course, they’re well-known here in Croatia and are building a name for themselves elsewhere,” said Elena, “but they are already really huge in Asia. For example, they performed on Chinese Television’s New Year’s Gala, a concert watched by more than one billion viewers!”
I hope that’s whetted your appetite – so do you want to see more of the 2Cellos? Last summer, they performed in Pula arena: click here to see part of their YouTube performance and more. For more information on the 2Cellos see their website .
You might not have got to see the 2Cellos filming, but you can see the signed petticoats. This summer, Giostra will be performing every Tuesday at 9 pm in Porec’s main square. They will also be in action at the Giostra Festival in September and at various other Istrian events. If you ask nicely, I’m sure one of the ladies will happily show you her 2Cellos petticoat!