Piano Phantom is a professional pianist based in London, UK, who is best known for busking on the street wearing various disguises and challenging stereotypes. He has over 243k subscribers on YouTube, where his videos have reached a total of 98 million views.
He has been posting on YouTube since 2006, starting with pieces which he performed at home, and began performing publicly while in disguise in 2019. Despite going viral, he has successfully managed to keep his true identity a secret, “leaving an impression but no trace”, according to his official bio. This explains the story behind his name, Piano Phantom.
Piano Phantom has performed disguised as a cleaner, a hoodie clad skateboarder and a homeless man. When a pro pianist goes undercover as a homeless man… starts off with Piano Phantom receiving a makeover. He is given a false beard and a change of clothes. He arrives at St Pancras Station with a bag of “belongings”, an empty coffee cup and a cardboard sign.
He already has a small audience, a family with two young children, who watch intrigued as he begins to play Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The donations start to come, and people stop to film, some looking surprised that what appears to be an unkempt homeless man is actually a classically trained musician.
The young girl from the family stands transfixed and lost in the music. Her father seems eager to move on, but ultimately decides not to disturb her until Phantom is finished. The crowd erupts into applause, and he collects some final donations, along with his belongings and walks away with a slight limp in his step, ensuring that he keeps in character. The show was set up in collaboration with homeless charity Crisis, raising funds as well as awareness.
A user comments to praise his “amazing talent used to highlight such an important problem in our world today.”
In another video, Piano Phantom approaches a piano in a department store disguised as cleaning staff. Leaving his bucket and mop to one side, he sits down and begins to play Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Passers by take a brief break from their shopping to watch, some take out their phones and start filming. Bohemian Rhapsody soon becomes a mini medley with a smooth transition into Don’t Stop Me Now. Phantom gives this performance the ultimate finishing touch as he stands up and goes straight back to mopping the floor, as though nothing unusual has happened.
Piano Phantom uses his talent to shine a light on the way society views homeless people and low skill workers, who are often ignored by the public. It is hard to ignore the important message Phantom is conveying through music. The people we try hard not to notice have their own story and passions, just like us.
Phantom shares his own passions not only through his viral videos, but also by teaching others to play the piano, supplying sheet music and even a course through his website, www.pianophantom.com. If you want to see more from this talented pianist, you can subscribe to him on YouTube or follow him on Facebook and Instagram