Or at least start to take over more respectable venues. Yes, I was at Video Games Live at the Kennedy Centre last night ( event web page here ), and it was fantastic to see such a diverse crowd of youth in what they would probably imagine is a classical venue stuffed with suits. It was also impressive to see and hear the National Symphony Orchestra as they powered their way through a wide variety of musical types.
The show caters to a fairly geeky audience. You may think that the number of people who appreciate video game music might not seem as significant as the number of opera fans, but the numbers are changing every day. I know that games are no longer the limited beeps of my youth ( 1980’s Atari 2600 [actually we had a 4 switch model CX2600A]) and my wife’s work within the video games industry, plus her being a musical genius, means I can appreciate the hard work and compositional talent required to compose a score that is not only as good as anything your hear at the movies, but also adaptable enough to cope with the interactivity of a game. Almost every title has a score these days, and many are performed by classically trained orchestras, yes I feel this may be the future of classical music!
So on with the show. I hate to say it but I felt old in amongst some of the audience. When the three guys sat behind us (who had spent the pre-show wait uber-geeking each other by bragging about high scores and gadgets they owned) didn’t know whether Tron was a game or a movie I managed to restrain myself from spinning around and demanding that they learn the history of their culture. What made it worse was realising that some of the Nintendo DS waving throng had not even been born when game titles my wife and I had worked on were released… The next generation will not know of a world before broadband internet and next gen consoles! Age and experience limitations aside (when a contestant confessed she’d never played Space Invaders a small percentage of the audience gasped in shock) we could all appreciate the quality of the music, and the video screen showing game moments in time with the score was a wonderful way of linking the classical with the modern.
Stand out moments for me would have to be the Nintendo Mario medlay, introduced via video by Koji Kondo, because it drew from the entire game pantheon for both graphics and tunes, and you never forget those 8bit melodies! I was also impressed by the music from Advent Rising (composed by our host Tommy Tallarico [shorter than he looks]) especially when he invited the classically trained opera soprano soloist featured on the original game soundtrack to sing the vocals live. During the final applause the soloist returned on stage to take her bow carrying a camera and grabbed several shots of the packed auditorium all applauding what for her may have originally been a quick game gig between professional performances. This really tied the link between the gamer and the musicians as far as I was concerned.