Video Game Pianist
Martin Leung, the Video Game Pianist, in San Diego, CA, 2009
|Genres||Video Game Music|
Martin Leung, 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.
Early life 
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 attending the University of Southern California. He graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Yale School of Music. 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 first online 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.
In February 2005, noticing his skill and growing popularity, Tommy Tallarico asked Leung to join his upcoming Video Games Live tour, the first North American concert tour devoted entirely to video game music. Before making appearances with VGL, Tallarico asked Leung to perform at the newly minted Walk of Game and at 2005’s Game Developers Conference’s Game Audio Network Guild Awards (G.A.N.G). In May 2005, he was hired by BradyGames to perform piano at its E3 booth. On July 6, 2005, Video Game Live's premiere, Leung performed piano arrangements of Final Fantasy’s "The Prelude" and "One Winged Angel” to approximately 11,000 fans in the Hollywood Bowl. Notable attendees include Hideo Kojima, Koji Kondo (via pre-recorded video), Lorne Lanning, Yuji Naka, Marty O’Donnell, and Ted Price .
At the March 2006 Game Developers Conference, Leung performed his piano arrangements of the Zelda, Monkey Island, Halo 2, Myst, and Advent Rising games at G.A.N.G; some of the composers for these games including Tim Larkin, Clint Bajakian, Marty O'Donnell, Jack Wall, and Tommy Tallarico were in attendance. During the GDC, Leung also played songs from Final Fantasy at the Video Games Live sold-out concert in the San Jose Civic Auditorium.
While playing in Video Games Live from 2005 to 2012, Leung performed several pieces, including his Final Fantasy Medley, Super Mario Brothers music, and a rendition of the music to Tetris. A number of these performances have been done blindfolded.
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