Aiming for the next generation of classical fans, with videogame concerts

Posted on: October 14, 2015

“Once considered a gimmick, performances featuring videogame music are now a regular part of pops orchestra programming,” writes Sarah Needleman in Monday’s (10/12) Wall Street Journal. “Videogame performances offer a full orchestra—trumpets, harps and other classical instruments—plus choirs and jumbo video screens that synchronize gameplay footage to the music. Costumed attendees—dressed as dragons, wizards, princesses, fairies, knights and sorcerers—often engage in mock battles. Marriage proposals mid-show aren’t unusual; some end with fireworks. In Philadelphia, the 80-year-old Mann Center has held videogame concerts since 2012. Representatives say the shows attract as many as many as 6,500 attendees, roughly double the average attendance at classical concerts.… Heidi Harris, the associate concertmaster for the St. Louis Symphony, was surprised how much she enjoyed performing Zelda in a concert this year. ‘I thought it was very beautiful,’ she said…. Mathew Grigsby, a 28-year-old freelance illustrator in Portland, Ore. … has attended symphonic orchestra performances to hear scores from ‘Mass Effect,’ ‘Halo’ and other favorite videogames. The concerts, he said, inspired him to attend performances of works by … Vivaldi and Mozart. ‘I developed a taste for classical music through videogames,’ he said.”

Posted October 14, 2015

Pictured: A performance of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at Philadelphia’s Mann Center in August. Photo by Derek Brad