Although video games and classical music bear a generational gap, the music in video games can bring lovers of both forms of entertainment together.
Video gamers and classical music fans gathered at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Saturday to listen to original arrangements of video game scores performed by the Gamer Symphony Orchestra (GSO). The crowd spanned many generations, from young children to students and parents.
“We are an orchestra that focuses on symphonic orchestrations of video game music,” said Joe Wang, a member of GSO. “We do all of our arrangements in house. We take video game music and make it fun.”
The Gamer Symphony Orchestra formed in the fall of 2005 with only six members and today has 120 members. GSO takes the original compositions found in video games and student musicians create their own original arrangements to perform on stage.
“Maybe one or two of our core arrangers are music majors, but everyone else is regular students,” Wang said.
Until this year, Maryland’s GSO was the only college video game orchestra in existence. Ithaca has recently formed a video game orchestra, and two others are in the works at Towson and the University of Delaware.
“I really enjoyed the Symphony for the Hero of Time and Nightsong, because those are from the two games I actually play,” he said. “It was very interesting to hear the way they adapted the music for an orchestra and chorus.”
Junior Austin Roche was surprised by the collaboration between GSO and the chorus.
“I know the music director so I already knew what was coming, but I really liked how the chorus was in there,” Roche said. “I’ve never been to a concert with both an orchestra and a chorus.”
The concert included other combinations of musicians than the orchestra and chorus. The song “Que Sera Sera” from Katamari Damacy featured a four piece jazz band, and “Glorious Morning” from the flash game Age of War featured a small collaboration between a few musicians.
Highlights from the concert included: the Donkey Kong, Opus 64, arranged and performed as a piano solo by co-conductor Jacob Coppage-Gross; Twilight Princess, arranged by Katie Noble and Rob Garner; and a 10-minute opera from Final Fantasy VI, Maria & Draco, arranged by Greg Cox, an alumnus of the group.
“I really enjoyed the Twilight Princess medley because the song actually wasn’t in the game, it was only in the trailer,” Roche said.
The Gamer Symphony Orchestra will be performing at MAGfest 11, a video game and music festival Jan. 3-6 at the National Harbor in Baltimore.