Music

It's All in the Playing At NSO's 'Video Games Live'

Two different entertainment cultures form an unlikely alliance: Orchestral musicians play and the game Beyond Good &  Evil appears on a big screen.
Two different entertainment cultures form an unlikely alliance: Orchestral musicians play and the game Beyond Good & Evil appears on a big screen. (By Michele Lee Wilson)

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By Grace Jean
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, July 2, 2007

The National Symphony Orchestra lured hundreds of video game fans away from their computers and consoles Friday night for an entertaining and clever multimedia presentation of popular game music at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

You didn't have to be a gamer to enjoy "Video Games Live," a concert event that has been touring the world for two years featuring video game sequences, synchronized lighting and interactive segments. The production, here for the first time, involved the NSO and members of the Master Chorale of Washington. Video game music came to the forefront in a sweeping performance imbued with the sort of epic grandeur and emotional drama found in film scores and operas.

Conducted by "Video Games Live" co-creator Jack Wall, the NSO and 16 choristers explored the evolution of video games through music. From the early bleeps and bloops of Pong and the simplistic tunes of Duck Hunt, Gauntlet and OutRun to the sophisticated compositions found in Advent Rising, Myst, Civilization IV and World of Warcraft, the performers synchronized their music to projected video images.

Not all the action was relegated to the large screen. During music from Metal Gear Solid, host and composer Tommy Tallarico, portraying Solid Snake, the game's main character, hid beneath a large cardboard box and inched his way across the stage. A patrolling guard wearing black tactical gear took notice, and when a glowing blue exclamation point popped above his head, the sellout crowd roared with delight.

Of course a video game concert could not proceed without at least one gaming opportunity. The NSO provided real-time music to Space Invaders and Frogger as contestants drawn from the audience competed onstage in those games for prizes.

While the orchestra's renditions of music from the Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., God of War, Halo and Final Fantasy VII were crowd-pleasers, the most affecting performance arrived during Medal of Honor, as historic black-and-white footage of World War II played onscreen.

The concert also included a performance by pianist Martin Leung, who wrote a suite based on the music from the Final Fantasy series.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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