Hahn-Bin is Dead, Amadeus Leopold Lives

The Classical Violinist Formerly Known as Hahn-Bin: Amadeus Leopold

After Amadeus Leopold’s performance of “Till Dawn Sunday,” a classical music concert that he’s morphed into a performance art show, audience members young and old filed out of UCLA’s Royce Hall theater with little to say other than “Wow.”

by Ada Tseng

When asked by Australia’s Limelight magazine whether he ever has to defend himself as a serious classical artist because of the way he dresses (dramatic makeup, androgynous high-fashion clothing, hair often styled into a mohawk and/or dyed primary colors), Amadeus Leopold replied: “I don’t blame people who judge based on appearance because they haven’t heard me play, but they will shut the fuck up when they hear me play.”

Amadeus Leopold’s former self was Hahn-Bin, a Korean American child prodigy who began playing the violin at age 5 and, by age 12, had made his international debut at the 42nd annual Grammys in February 2000. In the last few years, the caterpillar has blossomed into a butterfly, and with the 2012 name change (“Amadeus” taken from Mozart, “Leopold” as a nod to both Mozart’s father and Leopold Auer, the Hungarian violinist) comes a force of nature who’s determined to fulfill the mission of The Renaissance of Classical Music, a project he started back in 2008, in which he vows to “bring the quarantined genre into mainstream culture.” Rumblings of his grandiose breakthrough began to attract pop culture attention in 2011, when Vogue reported that Madonna herself had attended one of his concerts — and later invited him to collaborate on her 2012 MDNA album. Since then, he’s also collaborated with The Scissor Sisters on their album Magic Hour.

“Hanh-Bin is dead,” Amadeus Leopold, now 25, declared with much flair to a full audience at UCLA’s Royce Hall on January 10, 2013. “The only way I could move on to my future was by murdering my past.”

“I know some of you loved Hahn-Bin,” he continued. “But I couldn’t. Because sometimes the wounds of our past just won’t heal.”

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