Imagine two musicians who have never met, playing beautiful music together and becoming viral YouTube sensations overnight. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Alex Lebron and Alberto Gestoso.
The two men, who live just a stone’s throw away from Basílica de la Sagrada Família, have been serenading their neighbours by playing their piano and saxophone in sync during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Not only have they impressed their community in the Spanish city, Alex and Alberto have also grabbed the attention of people all over the world. But considering they’ve never actually met each other in person, how did these jamming sessions come about?
“I got back from a trip and entered my flat and saw the rest of the people on their balconies and I could hear something,” Alex told Uspire. “I saw a piano from up somewhere and could see Alberto playing, and it was amazing. I instantly thought to go and get my saxophone and see if he wanted to jam with me.
“It was beautiful and just amazing to be a part of it. I gestured to him and he said, ‘go on’. He was playing Celine Dion’s My heart Will Go On and I had learned that song years ago, so I was able to play along. The response was so humbling.”
On Sunday, March 15, a day after the Spanish government formally issued a stay at home order due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Alberto decided to move his keyboard to the balcony of his apartment. “I wanted my neighbours to enjoy a little bit of live music during the quarantine, and after two or three songs, Álex asked to join in,” Alberto told Uspire.
The pair are now putting on one or two concerts a week, but didn’t want to do it every night in order to “keep it special”. The response has been incredible, and Alex and Alberto still can’t quite believe it.
“It’s been so so huge! It started in the first couple of hours where it had 500,000 views. When I woke up the next morning, I saw that we’d racked up 2.5 million views!” Alex said. “I pinched myself and thought, ‘this is something now’! It was a huge snowball effect which is still ongoing.”
Alberto revealed that at the heart of it is their surrounding community: “Our neighbourhood is simply amazing. They are always supporting us and waiting for the next concert. I know many of my neighbours by Instagram these days and they want more music. That’s really amazing!”
Alberto first started playing the piano 22 years ago at the age of 15, and is a computer programmer by day, but wanted to make a difference in his spare time.
“The only purpose is entertainment, because the only thing people talk about these days is the coronavirus. We just want them to forget about it just for a little while with the music,” he said.
Alex echoed these sentiments, and added: “First thing for me was the magic feeling as for the first couple of minutes when I first heard Alberto, I was the audience, but had that feeling of complete awe. I thought it would be great to also give this to people rather than just receive it. I’m hoping to give people that magic moment too.”
But you might be wondering how Alex and Alberto manage to practice for these mesmerising performances when they’re not even allowed to be in the same room as one another?
Admitting it’s difficult because they’re not together, Alberto explained: “I usually record myself playing the song on the piano and send it to Alex so he can practice over it. That’s all we can do now. But luckily for us, we usually do nice performances.”
Alex added that WhatsApp has been a huge help as they message each other on there until they find three or four songs that they both “vibe for”.
He explained: “After practicing, we then choose a day and go for it! The whole thing has been growing into what it is. People are asking for tours in other countries, if we’ll have live shows when this is all over. It’s crazy and so humbling.”
Alex actually plays 11 instruments in total but has been practicing the saxophone a lot more in the last four years, and he’s keen to continue once life is back to some sort of normality in Barcelona.
“I’ve been talking to my friends saying the street is normally vibrant, and maybe it won’t be the same again, but the people will be back and so I’m going to go crazy with this balcony!” he said, while Alberto revealed they have spoken about doing a concert on the street when the lockdown is over.
But for now, Alex and Alberto are content with their balcony concerts – providing the Spanish sun is out: “For the moment we will try to play every time the weather allows us. These rainy days aren’t so great for playing outside!”