Video Game Pianist aka Martin Leung is one of the first musicians to gain recognition for performing live video game music on a solo instrument. He also started the trend of musicians posting videos of their performances of video game music on the internet. The East Bay Express calls Video Game Pianist’s work the “gold standard” for his bold musical explorations.
In 2004, Video Game Pianist’s “Super Mario Medley” piano performance became a viral internet video. On October 18, 2007, “Super Mario Medley” received the following YouTube honors:
- #1 – Top Rated (All Time) – Japan
- #1 – Top Rated (All Time) – Music – Japan
- #1 – Top Favorites (All Time) – Japan
- #1 – Top Favorites (All Time) – Music – Japan
- #1 – Most Viewed (All Time) – Music – Japan
- #1 – Most Discussed (All Time) – Japan
- #1 – Most Discussed (All Time) – Music – Japan
- #3 – Most Viewed (All Time) – Japan
- #3 – Most Linked (All Time) – Music – Japan
- #5 – Recently Featured – Music – Hong Kong
- #8 – Recently Featured – Hong Kong
- #49 – Most Discussed (All Time) – Music
- #71 – Most Linked (All Time) – Japan
- #98 – Top Favorites (All Time) – Music
Within 6 years after the release of the viral video, Video Game Pianist performed video game music in 15 countries. Video Game Pianist performed video game music in notable venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, Royal Festival Hall (London), National Concert Hall (Dublin), Caird Hall (Dundee), The Sage Gateshead, Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Benaroya Hall, Théâtre Saint-Denis (Montreal), Massey Hall (Toronto), Chicago Theatre, Schnitzer Concert Hall, Kimmel Center, Heinz Hall, Microsoft Theater, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Convention Centers in Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Rio de Janeiro, Leipziger Messe, among others. Video Game Pianist has performed video game music with The National Philharmonic and Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, among others.
In 2007 in San Francisco, Video Game Pianist performed Super Mario Medley with Nintendo legends Shigeru Miyamoto and Koji Kondo in attendance.
Video Game Pianist maintains a YouTube channel. As of April 3, 2017, Video Game Pianist has 79,031 subscribers and 16.9 million video views. Many videos were created within less than 24 hours after users requested Video Game Pianist to play a certain video game piece. The process to create a video includes selecting a video game piece to learn, transcribing by ear the selected video game piece, arranging the piece to be playable for solo piano, learning and memorizing the piece at the piano, recording the piece, selecting an appropriate take, and uploading the video to YouTube.
Video Game Pianist has been reviewed or mentioned in the New York Times, The Times (United Kingdom), The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wired, and more. In 2006 Video Game Pianist was featured in an MTV series called “The G-Hole.”
As a classical pianist, Martin Leung holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Stewart Gordon, a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Claude Frank, and a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly and Daniel Shapiro. Martin currently studies with Myong-joo Lee, whom he also studied with from 1998-2004.
Martin has performed Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the University of Southern California Symphony Orchestra and conductor Carl St. Clair (2014), the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and conductor Victor Sawa (2013), and with the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra and conductor Tito Muñoz (2008). Martin has performed Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Regina Symphony Orchestra and conductor Victor Sawa (2011). He performed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and conductor Victor Sawa (2011). In 2003 Martin appeared on NPR’s “From the Top,” where he played Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 – III. Presto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lucas Richman. In 2003 Martin gave his Carnegie Hall debut, performing Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 – III. Presto with the University High School Symphony Orchestra and conductor Peter Fournier.
In September 2016 Martin became an adjunct faculty member at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.