How many video game music downloads are on your iPod? The music from video games is so addictive, you sometimes can’t get enough of it from just playing the game. Not only have symphonic renditions of music appeared in video games, but video game music has appeared in symphony halls around the world.
I spent much of my life going to classical concerts – symphony performances, the opera house, etc. (Kinda hard to stay away when you’re the product of two classical music majors, one ex professor of music theory!) I’ll never forget my first experience at a symphonic performance for video game music. It was a couple years back at Davies Symphony Hall when the San Francisco Symphony performed the Distant Worlds concert, music from Final Fantasy. Never before have I seen so many young adults and teenagers at the symphony in my life! Many brought their DS’ and PSP’s, killing time by playing video games before the concert and during the intermission. It was like I’d entered the Twilight Zone – the symphony hall was packed with a demographic and casual style of dress entirely different from what I grew up with. It was a fantastic performance – clips from the Final Fantasy series accompanied the music with Nobuo Uematsu himself making an appearance at the end of the concert.
(Follow the link to see a short clip of Final Fantasy VI’s “Maria and Draco” at the Japanese concert Voices: Music from Final Fantasy. And for all you musicians out there, Final Fantasy Shrine is a good starting point for free sheet music from the Final Fantasy series.)
The Video Games Live concert series began in July 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Each year, the concert has expanded, resulting in over 70 shows worldwide in 2009. This concert not only has clips from video games but also synchronized lights and effects. Unlike other concerts for video games, the music is not solely focused on one game series. It includes music from a wide variety of games such as Castlevania, BioShock, Diablo III, Dragon’s Lair, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy, God of War, Halo, Harry Potter, Kingdom Hearts, The Legend of Zelda, Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, Metroid, Myst, Resident Evil 5, Super Mario, Tetris, World of Warcraft, etc. Each performance is different and includes different musical selections. PLAY! A Video Game Symphony also features music from many top video games and began in 2006. Music includes selections from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Halo, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, Shadow of the Colossus, Prey, Silent Hill, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, etc.
The Symphonic Game Music Concerts (or Symphonische Spielemusikkonzerte) debuted in 2003 and are known for the “being the longest running and the first of their kind outside of Japan.” Many selections have even been reused in Press Start – Symphony of Games, PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, and Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. This concert series differs from others in that it focuses more on music quality and performance as opposed to flashy lights and videos from games. In 2008, this concert series came to a close, paving the way for new music performances such as Symphonic Shades – Hülsbeck in Concert (featuring game music by German game composer Chris Hülsbeck, tickets for which were sold out after only six days), Symphonic Fantasies – music from Square Enix, Symphonic Legends – music from Nintendo, and Symphonic Odysseys – Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu.
There are many video game concerts in Japan such as the former Press Start – Symphony of Games (from 2006-2009) and Orchestral Game Music Concerts (in Tokyo from 1991-1996). In fact, the very first video game concert called Family Classical Concert took place in Tokyo back in 1987, which featured music from the first two games of the Dragon Quest series.
Video game concerts for 2012 include Video Games Live, which will tour all over North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and even Australia. PLAY! A Video Game Symphony currently has concerts scheduled in Canada for the coming year.
The truly special concert series of this year however, will be the concert series for the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, which will be produced by PLAY! A Video Game Symphony. The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert will debut in Dallas January 10th and will feature a 4-movement symphony. Nintendo members were even able to receive a 15% discount on tickets until the end of November. To follow upcoming Zelda concerts, follow the official website.
KitGuru says: We are truly in the midst of a new area of gaming, one in which video games are being taken more seriously as an art form and game composers are celebrated. These video game concerts are definitely worth shelling out the big bucks for, and you can be sure the special 25th anniversary concert series for Zelda will be a once in a lifetime experience!