Friday, January 25, 2008

Concert: Designers at Play!

So as part of our Christmas bonus, our entire company got tickets to the Play! concert at Benaroyal Hall. This a concert featuring the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Boychoir, and Vocalpoint! Seattle chorale groups playing music from computer games.

No, really. It was pretty cool, so much so they have a second concert added for Saturday.

Computer game music is a challenge, since it expected to be supportive and secondary of the game experience (at best) and innocuous (at worst). Its a tough situation for a composer, and produces music which often lacks the dramatic stabs or lyrical hooks that define other types of modern music. So bringing the music to the forefront is a challenge.

And in general, backed up by a full orchestra and chorale, it works. The best piece was (and I am horribly prejudiced on this) the Guild Wars Suite, in which Jeremy Soule merges together the highly recognizable themes from the four Guild Wars projects into a flowing, dynamic whole. It was beautiful, unified, and should be added to their regular play list. Also good was Martin O'Donnell's Halo collection and Hikaru Utada's Kingdom Hearts (Which also holds recognizable thematic hooks). Oh, and Koji Kondo's collected themes from Super Mario Bros, and a swing version of the Chocobo themes.

The orchestra is backed up by three huge screens, which show clips from the games mixed with shots of the orchestra itself. The LB and I have mixed reactions to this - she likes the fact that they can have shots of things we could not normally see - (the piano players hands, the percussion in the back row), but I found myself watching the screens as opposed to engaging fully with the music. Maybe I'm too much of a traditionalist.

It was a great concert, and repeats on Saturday. I ran into a number of LJ friends at the shindig, and the audience was definitely heavy in the geek department (a lot of black fleece hoodies and one of our number was counting utilikilts).

And I really want a chorale group for GW2. Just saying.

More later,