PLAY! A video game symphony

After walking around downtown Seattle in light rain, a blister, then traveling across the Puget Sound on ferry, and coming back home only to take a three hour nap… I’m back and ready to write about the concert I attended only hours ago.

PLAY! A video game symphony, is a live performance of many memorable (and not so) pieces from timeless classics such as the Mario Bros. Medley to modern pieces from games such as Halo, World of Warcraft, and now Guild Wars. Along with the live performances, a few pieces are also accompanied by visuals that also come from these game pieces. For Seattle’s performance, we were blessed with the performances of the Seattle Orchestra, the Northwest BoyChoir, and Vocalpoint! Seattle. What we weren’t blessed with, was the appearance of Maestro Arnie Roth. For those unfamiliar with him, he was also the man who had conducted Voices, Dear Friends, and many other video game concerts around the world. Maybe he was too good for the second performance, but I guess who am I to complain? The first performance (Thursday, Jan. 24) was sold out and the second performance was only made by popular demand for a second showing.

Instead of Maestro Arnie Roth, another conductor from Benaroya Hall was present. In absence of Arnie Roth, however, we were gifted with the appearances of two men from the video game industry. One was one of the men who had composed the Halo music himself! Which, I suppose, would have been great if I had actually played Halo…

The program for the day included:

PLAY! Opening Fanfare
FINAL FANTASY VII – Liberi Fatali
Super Mario Bros.
Shenmue
Battlefield 1942
FINAL FANTASY VII – Aerith’s Theme
Sonic the Hedgehog
Metal Gear Solid
Kingdom Hearts

Intermission

THE ELDER SCROLLS IV- OBLIVION
FINAL FANTASY SERIES – Swing de Chocobo
Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross
World of Warcraft
Silent Hill 2
HALO
the Legend of Zelda
New: Guild Wars
FINAL FANTASY VII – One Winged Angel

The striked song is what was removed from the program in favor of adding more time to play a piece from Guild Wars. Was it worth it? For those who were probably tired of the Final Fantasy fanaticism? Yes. For those who were looking forward to the old Chocobo theme like myself? Then you were probably as bummed out as I was.

One concern going into this concert was that a friend who had attended Thursday’s performance mentioned a noticeable problem with the percussionists. I didn’t notice anything off about the percussionist this time around, but I found that the stage presence of the violinist and overall presentation for the Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross performance to be very lacking. Time Scar had a very strong violin solo segment that went very soft during today’s performance at Benaroya. It was quite noticeable, especially since it was one of my favorite pieces that had me hooked onto Chrono Cross in the beginning! There was also a time when the trumpets seemed off, and when other segments just didn’t seem to be on key with each other.

The choir, while very talented and fresh sounding, did not exactly seemed ‘right’ to me during the vocal portions of the show. Then again, they were a very young group, and so some of the areas which you’d expect an older voice the choir would come off sounding like these children were being placed into slave camps. It was a little ridiculous, and I felt horrible seeing how bored the females were looking in the choir. It actually depressed me when I would occasionally glance at the choir form the screen.

Other than that, the performances were well played. A definite crowd favorite was Super Mario Bros and Halo. Also, despite my complaints about the choir, they did send chills through my arms when they had performed Liberi Fatali. Sure they sounded young, but at least they did a rather impressive job. Although part of me wished they hadn’t performed a piece from WoW, as I was already contemplating going back despite initial problems with my wrist and fingers. They also managed to give me a fresh view of the WoW music, which I had initially dismissed as being downright awful. Now I’ve rated it to be on better terms in my book, but I doubt my opinion of it will be any different with the actual background themes playing while in the game. I suppose, however, that is the beauty of WoW being in windowed mode! At least I can play more desirable music in the background…

Aside from the symphony, many people also brought their DSes with them. For the first time, I actually got to use Pictochat other than with people I am already familiar with. However, due to poor reception, I think I missed out on a lot of fun things that were going on elsewhere in the concert hall. I was also surprised to see that only two people decided to be daring and try to wear something a little different. One was a man wearing a panda hat down in the front row (yes, we could see you on the big screen) and a young lady sitting somewhere behind me wearing a lolita outfit. There were also a surprising number of older attendants, but I am merely assuming they were season ticket holders or people who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

Overall, I wholeheartedly encourage those who do like video game music to attend any concert that features a live performance. It was an absolutely wonderful experience to be able to not only hear the music, but to hear it performed live and actually see the people perform the music as well.

5 thoughts on “PLAY! A video game symphony

  1. haha was amazing right? :) did u get to talk to some geeks? was there a lot of people pulling out their DS to play during intermission? :)

  2. I didn’t talk to anyone, but I overheard a lot of conversations. The old people kept asking questions about video games and such, the guys in front of me who thought they were cool were talking about PS2s and dissing the DS’ers (they were kinda like, “lawl all the kids are playing Mario hur hur hur”), and the people on the DSes were trying to host Mario Kart tournaments and such during intermission. I couldn’t join though. ;o; I didn’t want to walk around with a blister!

  3. I’ve been only to an Uematsu concert, and it was so awesome ;;
    I wish I could be there as well, I love VGMs and it’s lame how it’s under-considered here in europe. So fail ;;;;;;

    I’ll die from massive gasm the day I’ll hear the whole Opera sequence live, lolFF6. x_x

  4. Glad you enjoyed your time more or less at Play! Out here in the heartland, we do not get such fancy stuff. Well, among the edges of it maybe but that is considered the north and south respectively. ^_^

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