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Video Game Symphonic Shows Some Of The Best In Video Game Music

Imagine listening to your favorite orchestral soundtracks from your favorite video games. This time, however, imagine an actual orchestra performing it. Gamers and casual fans got treated to a blast in the MSO Rush Hour Concert: Video Game Symphonic. The event occurred last May 9, 2019, at the Ayala Museum in Makati. Folks from the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) gave their iconic MSO Rush Hour Concert series a pop culture twist. This time, they featured soundtracks from popular video games!

Wait, this is a thing? Apparently so!

Video Games: Blending Art Through Music, Emotions

Avid gamers will likely agree that one of the most moving aspects of its video games is its musical score. And while a lot of the general might still see video games as “low art,” a lot of creators do pour in a lot of effort in a title’s soundtracks. In fact, some of the most iconic and touching pieces of music video games have often fall under different genres. However, one can’t deny it’s grand orchestral scores that really set apart a lot of games from others. And some orchestral scores make enough of an impact that actual symphony orchestra series actually include in their repertoire of pieces to perform.

This has been happening over the years. Publications such as the Wall Street Journal once said thatvideo games are saving the symphony orchestra.” This year, Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) makes a mark in history as well. They have joined the ranks of illustrious performers such as Video Games Live and Video Game Orchestra with their MSO Rush Hour Concert Series.

The MSO Rush Hour Concert: Video Game Symphonic adds a pop-culture flavor in the MSO’s traditional orchestra line-up. This had them feature songs from The Beatles, Queen, Broadway musicals to, now, video games! This is thanks in part to the performance of Conductor Jeffrey Solares, in close coordination with Concertmaster Diomedes Saraza Jr.

Although being mostly a stranger to the video game music landscape, Conductor Solares shaped a night to remember for gamers across the country.

An Assortment Of Medleys For Gamers

The audience knew they were up for surprises when Monster Hunter’s “Proof of a Hero” began. Fans will recognize the song with the roll of the drums and the blare of the horns. His Excellency Ambassador Koji Haneda and other Japanese embassy staff graced the event, marking the incalculable contribution of the Japanese to the video game industry.

Following the Monster Hunter theme were a plethora of game-themed medleys. MSO performed their rendition of popular songs from Nintendo heavyweights  Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda.

Fans of Final Fantasy got treated with “To Zanarkand (FFX)” and “Tifa’s Theme (FFVII)”, both of which serving as some of Nobuo Umeatsu’s most famous pieces. Conductor Solares duly noted that video game pieces tend to use classical music, citing examples such as “O Fortuna,” used in Final Fantasy VII.

And while Concertmaster Saraza Jr. chose the bulk of the MSO setlist, Conductor Solares insisted he include the only video game he’s played – Angry Birds.

Meanwhile, the MSO also continued the nostalgia train with their  Pokemon Medley. In this, they’ve included the franchise’s iconic “Main Theme,” “Battle Theme,” and “Team Rocket Theme.”

MSO also played iconic music from mega-hit franchises such as World of Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. The group also stunned viewers with their Grand Theft Auto Medley, successfully converting the classic radio songs into a orchestra piece.

Manila Symphony Orchestra followed through with a surprising rendition of “Nate’s Theme” from Uncharted. This really stretched MSO’s musical abilities with its frequent changes in dynamics and tempo.

Video Game Symphonic: Not Just Games

Despite Video Game Symphonic being billed as a “video game concert,” pieces featured by the MSO didn’t limit themselves to the genre.

Video Game Symphonic concert was billed as a video game concert. However, there are so many awesome orchestra music from other forms of media that gamers also love. Conductor Solares pushed “Symphony No. 7” as performed in Nodame Cantible,  an anime about a budding conductor. It’s easy to see why it was appealing.

Fresh off the epic Endgame is the “Avengers Theme.” This served as an easy shoo-in to end the night with such an epic orchestra score. However, the Infinity Saga wasn’t the only pop culture juggernaut ending this month. MSO couldn’t resist adding the earworm that is the opening of the Game of Thrones series.

If you want to check out how the entire event unfolded, you can actually watch the entire Facebook live stream event here.

A Ton More Waiting To Be Featured

One can’t deny that the Video Game Symphonic turned out to be a huge success. There’s just so much energy from the crowd, young and old alike.

However! If anything, one can surmise that there’s a ton more material that can be tapped from various pop culture genres, not just in video games.

For instance, Metal Gear Solid would be an instant shoo-in as a crowd pleaser. “Distant Worlds” showed that an entire concert can revolve Final Fantasy music. And even then, Square Enix has a treasure trove of excellent orchestral music. MSO can revisit old-school classics like Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger or utilize niche franchises like the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of Nier: Automata.

If MSO can invite a great choir, we can have pieces like the “Skyrim Theme,” “Halo 3 Theme,” or “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII. Grammy-award nominee Journey would add a ethereal atmosphere to any show, should they be invited to sing.

Plenty of pieces can also be practiced form anime. These include Hibike Euphonium, a competitive high school symphonic band, or the box office hit Your Name. Everyone who attended the concert can surely provide their own suggestions for the second Video Game Symphonic concert. Striking a balance between the new and old and between the niche and the mainstream cand definitely elevate any subsequent performance!

Music touches the hearts of people like no other. It is a deep hope that efforts like this can share the beauty to behold in this hobby so many FIlipino geeks hold dear.

Emile Josef

Jack of All Trades, Master of None, I'll write about anything under the sun. Anime, Games, Comics, or Food, I'll give it a looksie, as long as it's good.

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