Classical pianists may no longer be the rockstars of the musical scene in the same way they were in centuries past, but they can still put on a decidedly impressive show. While pianists, violinists, and other instrumentalists often epitomize the struggling artist, faced not only with dwindling job opportunities, but also with a generally unappreciative, disengaged audience, every once in a while, an artist really hits the jackpot in terms of bridging the gap between the art form and the common audience.
In the case of Sonya Belousova, it seems that this piano virtuoso may have just found the sweet spot. In a rather gimmicky but nonetheless impressive showing of skill, Belousova plays a series of super mario themes on a piano thats been aesthetically transformed into a Nintendo. The music is certainly far more accessible, if not more entertaining, than playing Liszt’s Concert Etudes on a 9-foot Steinway.
In a mix of more than 50 videos, all available on YouTube, Russian-born pianist Sonya Belousova shows off her more whimsical side, performing everything from the Super Mario Bros. medley to the Doctor Who theme. Not only does Belousova give brilliant performances of these pieces, she’s also responsible for their excellent arrangements — indeed, the renowned pianist is also known for her compositional chops, and has won “multiple international composition and piano competitions, including the first prize at the Rodion Shchedrin’s Piano & Composition Competition.” She was also awarded the Russian Ministry of Culture Award, deemed “the most prestigious Russian ward granted on the basis of exceptional talent.”
The videos, which all take more traditional piano repertoire out of its comfort zone, both in terms of the types of compositions being performed and the setting, feature Belousova playing unexpected but familiar pop culture tunes, all on creatively decorated or colored pianos. The entire effect is somewhat theatrical, making the viewing experience one that is perhaps more commonly entertaining than hearing a Carnegie Hall performance of a Beethoven concerto.
For example, in Belousova’s Game of Thrones theme video, the pianist appears dressed as Daenerys Targaryen against an almost movie set-like background. No surprise considering Belousova has had her music appear in films that “have been premiered at the largest film festivals across the globe, including the Cannes International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival.” These videos, all produced by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, have garnered millions of views, and also gained her international recognition within the Comic Con community.
So while classical pianists may not seem to have all that much in common with cosplay and gamers, one woman is bridging the gap, and bringing beautiful music to at least a portion of the masses.