Michael Martinez - Biography
Solo Pianist & Composer
"I wish to thank all the generous
Donors and organizations for their
support in funding Colleagues Of
The Arts. I am very proud to be
included as one of the recipients."
I would like to tell you about myself and my background in music.
I was born and raised on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in the town of Pacific Grove. I'm currently a Junior at Pacific Grove High School and my future plans are to attend the Monterey Peninsula College.
At age nine, the only interest I had in music was just fooling around on a small Yamaha keyboard. By age 12, my interest in piano playing grew and I began taking private piano lessons. To the surprise of my piano teacher, I began composing my own songs just weeks into my first lessons. With my new piano skills, I began entertaining residents at several local retirement homes, thus enabling me to quickly fulfill community service hours required by my middle school.
I continued to perform for many local community events and eventually got my first job at age 14, playing piano on Friday and Saturday evenings at a popular little Italian restaurant in Pacific Grove. I was employed as their pianist for a year and a half. I will always be grateful to Nino and Marie Favaloro for trusting in me and giving me the chance to entertain their guests.
It was at this time in my life that I was introduced to a well known local pianist and recording artist named Jonathon Lee. He was a resident of Pacific Grove and was frequently seen driving his electric scooter around town, delivering music CDs to his local accounts.
Jonathon Lee had been struggling with diabetes since early childhood and the disease caused the eventual amputation of both legs below the knees. Sadly, his hands also became affected by the disease and he no longer was able to play the piano. At the time I was introduced to him, he was recovering from a diabetic stroke that left him frail and weak.
I was fascinated with Jonathon's music style and I loved the types of songs he played. In the year that followed, Jonathon taught me many new piano techniques and inspired me to compose several songs, two of which I dedicated to him.
In April of 2004, Jonathon Lee began planning his last annual Lover's Point Piano concert. After lots of hard work and last minute preparations, the Lover's Point Concert finally arrived on a beautiful Labor Day weekend in September of 2004. Hundreds of Jonathon's fans attended the concert and I felt a strong sense of pride in being the pianist chosen to play Jonathon's music. I played many of my own compositions along with several of Jonathon's favorite songs. I was fourteen years old at the time, and I knew I had a long way to go before I could ever fill Jonathon's shoes. It was an exhilarating afternoon, especially after Jonathon publicly invited me to take his place, playing piano for him at the Big Sur International Marathon held each spring.
The following weekend, Jonathon planned a barbecue to celebrate the success of the concert. To my disappointment, the get-together never happened, for Jonathon fell seriously ill just days after the concert and ended up needing hospital care. In the year that I had known him, I had become accustomed to his many hospital stays, but this one was different. He was never to return home again. Jonathon Lee's life long struggle with diabetes took his life just 29 days after our memorable Lover's Point Concert. From that day on, my life has never been the same. I became known as the young pianist that Jonathon Lee chose to carry on his music. What an honor it has been !
In the months following his death, I continued to work hard, studying his music style. My new piano teacher, Michelle Galindo, played an important roll in giving me the support and guidance I needed for my first Big Sur International Marathon performance which was only months away. I had to be ready to carry on Jonathon's tradition as the tuxedo clad pianist, performing on the 9 foot concert grand piano, atop a cliff at Bixby Creek Bridge, serenading marathon runners as they ran past.
I have proudly carried on Jonathon's tradition as Big Sur Marathon's "Grand Piano Man" for the past two years and hopefully for many more years to come.