When composer/musician Tommy Tallarico created the Video Games Live experience more than a decade ago, he wanted to help the medium of video games work as a bridge into the world of classical and symphonic music.
“One of the main reasons I created Video Games Live was to help usher in a whole new generation of young people to appreciate the arts and symphonic music,” he said.
Today, the show continues be an ambassador for both symphonic music and gaming alike, and continues to tour worldwide, and released its third CD, Video Games Live: Level 3 in February.
Funded with Kickstarter, the CD raised more than $285,000, making it the third-highest grossing album in Kickstarter’s history.
The majority of the studio album was performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, and around 175 musicians and 27 game composers contributed their talents to the disc.
The CD certainly demonstrates the importance of a well-written and well-performed score, to the performing and media art, and this includes the now-prominent art form of video game design. When listened to without the visual accompaniments of the live performances, or the games themselves for that matter, much of this music is impressive in its own right: full choral pieces; Asian, Caribbean, and Eastern European orchestral works; driving rock instrumentals; and lively bits of operetta are mixed with recognizable game themes.
One of the fun things about this album is playing around young gamers and watching their faces light up with recognition when they hear a piece from their favorite game: “Oh my gosh, this is from Final Fantasy!”
Likewise, it’s also a great joy to have non-gamers comment on the beauty of a piece, and watching their reaction when you reveal it’s from the video game Chrono Cross.
Other notable games featured include Skyrim, Tetris, Pokemon, Street Fighter II, and World of Warcraft, as well as the 25th Anniversary Overture for Zelda.
Tallarico said he is still thrilled to see the multi-generational appeal of the Video Games Live performances.
“It’s so incredible to see moms and dads, grandparents and grandkids, all enjoying an event that has some kind of relevance of each of them,” he said.
One thing to note: Some of the music featured in both the Video Game Live performances and albums, including Level 3, may be taken from Mature-rated games, but there is no inappropriate content for listeners of any age. The guitar-driven “Theme of Laura,” by Akira Yamaoka from the dark and violent game Silent Hill 2, is actually one of the album’s most dynamic pieces, giving the album a slight departure from the more classical-centered pieces with its flowing alternative jazz sound.
The CD’s closing piece, a live performance of the catchy “Still Alive” from Portal, prominently features audience members of all ages singing along to that cute little passive-aggressive anthem from GLaDOS, featuring lyrics like, “We do what we must because we can/For the good of all of us/Except the ones who are dead/But there’s no sense crying over every mistake.”
Tallarico said being able see different generations come together, have fun and experience beautiful music together, is something he will always find exceptionally rewarding.
“I’m always reminded of the story when a woman in one of the symphonies came up to me right before the start of a show with tears in her eyes thanking me for bringing something like this into the world,” Tallarico said. “She said that she has been with the symphony for over 20 years and she’s been trying to get her 17-year-old son to come and see her play in the symphony for over a decade, but he would never go…until that night! And not only that, but he brought all his friends and was bragging to his classmates how his mom was going to be playing Halo on stage that night.”
GeekMom received a copy of the album for review purposes.