Play! A Video Game Symphony this weekend, and I don't think I've ever seen more 10 - 15 year old boys at the symphony ever. In fact, at intermission there weren't even any lines for the women's bathrooms, something I've never experienced. And how often do you hear whistles and thunderous applause in the middle of a piece of music at the symphony (by the way, this was encouraged by the conductor, so the audience wasn't being rude, just ebullient!)
This is a touring concert (coming next to Vancouver, Canada), but each city that hosts it uses their own symphony and choir. Here, it was guest-conducted by Andy Brick, who is a composer of game music himself and did an excellent job in the conductor's role. He was also a great speaker who is obviously very conversant with the world of video games and so he did a good job introducing all of the pieces. Also, in the audience on the night we saw it was Jeremy Soule who composed my favorite piece of the evening, the theme to Elder Scrolls Oblivion.
I also liked seeing how the choir was used basically as an instrument. In most of the video game pieces, the choir doesn't actually use any language, they are just singing notes with an open vowel sound. So in essence, they are more like an instrument than a chorus. There was only one piece where they had any lyrics, and I couldn't tell if it was in Latin or in some made-up language like Orcish or something.
Mackenzie's favorite pieces were Zelda which, as he says, has some of the best video game music ever composed. He was a little disappointed that they didn't include any music from the Ocarina of Time, or Epona's Theme which is another popular piece of music from the Zelda series. We both thought that the piece they played for the encore, One Winged Angel from the Final Fantasy series was probably the most intriguing of the night. Apparently the composer Nobuo Uematsu said in an interview that this piece was designed to be a fusion of the musical styles of Igor Stravinsky and Jimi Hendrix!
All in all, we had a terrific evening, the symphony and choir were great as always (for such a small city, we have terrific arts and music). Although Mackenzie is a classical music lover anyway, I do think it's cool that the symphony is reaching out to new audiences in unique and creative ways.