Video Game Pianist
Martin Leung, the Video Game Pianist, in San Diego, CA, 2009
|Genres||Video game music|
Martin Leung (born 1986), also known as the Video Game Pianist or the Blindfolded Pianist, is one of the first pianists to gain worldwide recognition for playing popular video game music on the piano, both in concert venues and in online videos.
Unlike many recognized musicians, Leung's breakthrough occurred almost entirely online when, on 2 July 2004, a video of him playing the Super Mario Bros. theme blindfolded debuted on eBaum's World and later appeared on numerous viral video websites. Leung has been covered by Advanced Media Network, The Plain Dealer, Nintendo Power, GAME Magazine, CUBE Magazine, Night Life Montreal, MTV, 1UP.com, GameSpot, and Slashdot.
Born in Hong Kong to Chinese and Japanese parents, Leung moved to California when he was three years old and began taking interest in the piano at the age of 4 when, after hearing his sister play, he began imitating songs. His parents noticed his potential and enrolled him in piano lessons.
By the late 1990s, Leung had developed into a talented musician, placing first two times at the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, once in 1998 and once in 2000, and placing third at the 2002 Oberlin Piano Festival. Leung made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2003 at the age of 16 in the Isaac Stern Auditorium, performing Mendelssohn's Concerto No. 1 - Presto.
In 2004, as a high school senior at University High School, Leung put two of his passions — piano and videogames — together, listening to the music of Super Mario repetitively so he could arrange it for piano. On 2 July 2004, the video he and a friend had created of him performing songs from the Super Mario Bros. series blindfolded debuted on eBaum's World and later appeared on other websites.
Leung is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at the University of Southern California. He graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Yale School of Music with a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in piano performance, respectively. Leung has several goals he wishes to accomplish: promote and elevate the image of video game music, enhance the piano’s image so that it will become a more mainstream instrument, and to help increase awareness of classical music.
After Leung’s Super Mario Medley internet video was viewed by an estimated 40 million people, he began performing video game music from other popular gaming series including Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Halo, Earthworm Jim, and Final Fantasy. As Leung released more videos of himself performing a broader collection of video game music, his work began to show up on iFilm, MSN Video, Ebaum's World, Gprime, and Albino Blacksheep.
Leung's Super Mario Medley video was one of the first Internet videos showcasing a solo performance of video game music. As a result of many people seeing the video, Leung was invited to perform at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the BradyGames Booth (May 2005 and May 2006), Penny Arcade Expo (August 2005 and August 2006), Harucon II (April 2006), Game Developers Conference Game Audio Network Guild Awards (March 2006 and March 2007), Gallery 1988 (May 2006), SITACon (October 2006), (March 2007), German Games Convention at the 4Playders.de booth (August 2007 and August 2008), Brasil Game Show (October 2011), and in several Video Games Live shows (July 2005 through December 2012).
Leung gave his first live all-video-game-music piano recital at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, TX in 2005. Leung gave 21 encores.
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