Play! A Video Game Symphony

PLAY! A Video Game Symphony was a concert series that features music from video games performed by a live orchestra. The concerts from 2006 to 2010 were conducted by Arnie Roth. From 2010, Andy Brick took the position of principal conductor and music director. Play! was replaced by the Replay: Symphony of Heroes concert series.

PLAY logo
PLAY! concert series logo
Play! A video game symphony V (526586156)
"Play! A video game symphony V": Anno 1701 soundtrack (2 June 2007)

History

In 2004, Jason Michael Paul was approached by Square Enix to organize a concert for music from its Final Fantasy series. After the concert sold out in a few days, Paul decided to turn video game music concerts into a series.[1] Arnie Roth, who had previously conducted the Dear Friends - Music from Final Fantasy and More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy concerts, was selected to conduct the concerts.[2] Andy Brick, who had previously conducted the Symphonic Game Music Concerts, was chosen as the associate conductor.[3] The concerts are performed by local symphony players and choirs.[4]

Play! premiered on May 27, 2006 at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois.[5] The premiere show featured performances by Koji Kondo, Angela Aki, and Akira Yamaoka,[6] and composers Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Yuzo Koshiro and Jeremy Soule were in attendance.[7]

Concerts

Each concert features segments of video game music performed by a live orchestra and choir, with video footage from the games shown on three screens.[2] An opening fanfare, written by Nobuo Uematsu, is performed at each show.[7] Music from all video game eras is performed at the shows.

According to Paul, the show is a "straightforward music program," designed "to keep the arts alive in a way that is classy."[1]

Performed music

Music from the following games has been performed at Play!:

Album

On January 9, 2009, a live album CD and DVD of the concert was released. It was recorded in Prague and was performed by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.[8]

Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."PLAY! Opening Fanfare"2:12
2."Commodore 64 Medley"8:24
3."Castlevania"6:52
4."Sonic the Hedgehog"6:41
5."Chrono Cross"4:45
6."Silent Hill 2"2:58
7."Halo"7:28
8."Kingdom Hearts"4:41
9."Battlefield"6:42
10."World of Warcraft"7:40
11."The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion"9:16
12."Guild Wars"6:56
Total length:74:35

Reception and legacy

The concerts have been well received. Audiences regularly give standing ovations after each song.[4] Jeremy Soule, composer of the music for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, said that he "consider[s] 'Play' to be the ultimate video-game surround system."[9]

According to Paul, Play! helps to promote the work of composers, as well as "lend credibility to the genre of video-game music."[4] Roth stated that the concerts help to also push the classical industry forward and to "draw new audiences."[4] According to Soule, video game concerts can help to educate old generations "that game music isn't just a bunch of bleeps and bloops."[1] One associate conductor stated that the performance crosses the generational gap, bringing together older and younger generations.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Musgrove, Mike (2006-08-03). "Mario's New World: Symphonies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  2. ^ a b "Interview with PLAY! A Video Game Symphony producer Jason Michael Paul". music4games.net. 2006-04-29. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  3. ^ "GP Q&A: Video Game Music Grows Up". GamePro. 2007-05-25. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  4. ^ a b c d Colbourne, Scott (2009-04-06). "Gaming's high note". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  5. ^ "Koji Kondo to attend Chicago world-premiere". Anime News Network. 2006-04-17. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  6. ^ "PLAY! A Video Game Symphony - Rosemont Theatre, Chicago (05/27/06)". music4games.net. 2006-06-05. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  7. ^ a b "Nobuo Uematsu to attend Chicago world-premiere". Anime News Network. 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  8. ^ "PLAY! A Video Game Symphony and the New Year!". Play! A Video Game Symphony. 2009-01-02. Archived from the original on 2009-05-31. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  9. ^ Buckendorff, Jennifer (2008-01-21). "Seattle Symphony playing with video games". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-09-04.

External links

Arnie Roth

Arnold "Arnie" Roth is an American conductor, composer, and record producer. His work includes conducting concerts for video game music. He is also a classically trained violinist and a member of the Grammy Award-winning music group Mannheim Steamroller. Roth is also the principal conductor and music director of the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Play! A Video Game Symphony, and several Final Fantasy concerts. He won the Best Score Award at the 2003 DVD Premier Awards for his soundtrack to the film Barbie as Rapunzel and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007 for his original song "Shine" from Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. Roth graduated from Bienen School of Music, an undergraduate and graduate institution of Northwestern University in 1975. He has a son and a daughter who are both also involved in music; his son, Eric Roth (born 1977), is also a famed conductor.

Fabian Del Priore

Fabian Del Priore (born 27 May 1978 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany) is a composer, arranger and sound designer. He has become an established tracker musician, known as "Rapture".

Final Fantasy concerts

Final Fantasy is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and owned by Square Enix that includes video games, motion pictures, and other merchandise. The original Final Fantasy video game, published in 1987, is a role-playing video game developed by Square, spawning a video game series that became the central focus of the franchise. The primary composer of music for the main series was Nobuo Uematsu, who single-handedly composed the soundtracks for the first nine games, as well as directing the production of many of the soundtrack albums. Music for the spin-off series and main series games beginning with Final Fantasy X was created by a variety of composers including Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Kumi Tanioka, as well as many others.

Music from the franchise has been performed numerous times in concert tours and other live performances such as the Orchestral Game Music Concerts, Symphonic Game Music Concerts, and the Play! A Video Game Symphony and the Video Games Live concert tours, as well as forming the basis of specific Final Fantasy concerts and concert series. The first such concert was the 20020220 Music from Final Fantasy concert on February 20, 2002, which sparked a six-concert tour in Japan entitled Tour de Japon: Music from Final Fantasy beginning in March 2004. A North American concert series titled Dear Friends -Music From Final Fantasy- followed from 2004–2005, and after its conclusion was followed with the More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy concert on May 16, 2005. Voices - Music from Final Fantasy was a concert held in Yokohama, Japan on February 18, 2006 focusing on vocal pieces from the series.

The longest running Final Fantasy concert series so far is the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert tour, which began in 2007 and continues to date around the world. The latest officially licensed concert is Final Symphony, featuring music from Final Fantasy VI, VII and X. All of these concerts have played only music from the main Final Fantasy series, and do not include music from the multiple spin-off series with the exception of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, the 2005 computer animated film sequel to Final Fantasy VII.

Halo 2 Original Soundtrack

The Halo 2 Original Soundtrack is the soundtrack for Bungie's 2004 video game Halo 2. The soundtrack was released as two separate volumes, released almost two years apart. Volume 1, released at the same time as Halo 2 on November 9, 2004, contains arranged instrumental pieces written by Martin O'Donnell and his partner Michael Salvatori, as well as "inspired-by" tracks from bands Incubus, Hoobastank and Breaking Benjamin. Volume 2 was released on April 25, 2006 and contains all the game music arranged in a suite form.

O'Donnell, who had previously composed the music for Bungie games such as Myth and Halo: Combat Evolved, sought to develop the "Halo sound" of the previous game as well as introduce new sounds and influences to the music. The music was based on what was happening in the game, rather than using leitmotifs or theme repetitively. The music was recorded in pieces with a fifty-piece orchestra at Studio X in Seattle, Washington. To mark its release both Microsoft and Sumthing Else Music Works planned an aggressive marketing campaign.

Upon release, the music of Halo 2 was praised. Critics were split on the merits of Volume 1, with some publications enjoying the bonus offerings while others felt the first volume lacked cohesion. Volume 2 was declared the "real" soundtrack to Halo 2. Upon release both soundtracks became commercial successes, with more than 100,000 copies sold. The soundtracks' success was pointed to as a sign of increasing legitimacy of video game music in the entertainment industry. Halo's music has since been played in concert settings, including Play! A Video Game Symphony and Video Games Live.

Hitoshi Sakimoto

Hitoshi Sakimoto (崎元 仁, Sakimoto Hitoshi, born February 26, 1969) is a Japanese video game music composer and arranger. He is best known for scoring Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, though he has composed soundtracks for over 80 other games. He began playing music and video games in elementary school, and began composing video game music for money by the time he was 16. Sakimoto's professional career began a few years later in 1988 when he started composing music professionally as a freelancer, as well as programming sound drivers for games. Five years and 40 games later, he achieved his first mainstream success with the score to Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. In 1997, he joined Square and composed for his first international success, the score to Final Fantasy Tactics.

In 2002, he resigned from Square to form his own music company, Basiscape, through which he continues to compose music for games, along with some anime series. Basiscape has expanded since its founding to 10 composers, and is currently the largest independent video game music production company. In addition to video game soundtracks, over the years Sakimoto has also worked on projects such as anime series and vocal albums. His music has been played at numerous music concerts by groups such as the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, and his work on Final Fantasy XII has been arranged for the piano and published as sheet music.

Jason Michael Paul

Jason Michael Paul is an American-born concert producer, promoter, and entrepreneur. His production company, "Jason Michael Paul Productions", produced “Dear Friends”, PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, and Nintendo's Legend Of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.

Jeremy Soule

Jeremy Soule (; born December 19, 1975 in Keokuk, Iowa) is an American composer of soundtracks for film, television and video games. He has won multiple awards and has been described as the "John Williams of video game music" and "a model of success" for Western composers. He has composed soundtracks for over 60 games and over a dozen other works during his career. He is best known for his work in The Elder Scrolls and Guild Wars series, and several other top-selling titles such as Total Annihilation, Neverwinter Nights, Dungeon Siege, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Harry Potter.

After several years of private composition studies he became an employee of Square in 1994. After finishing the soundtrack to Secret of Evermore in 1995, he left to join Humongous Entertainment, where he composed for several children's games as well as Total Annihilation, his first award-winning score. He left to form his own music production company, Soule Media in 2000, now called Artistry Entertainment. Through the company, Soule has created several award-winning soundtracks, including Icewind Dale, the Harry Potter series of games, and all of the main Elder Scrolls games since 2002.

In 2005, he founded DirectSong, a record label that publishes digital DRM-free versions of his soundtracks as well as those of classical composers. Soule's works have been played in several live concerts such as the Symphonic Game Music Concert in Germany and the international Play! A Video Game Symphony concert series. While many of his works are orchestral, he considers himself a "music practitioner", or someone who creates music in general rather than just one type of music. Several of Soule's soundtracks have been created with the help of his brother, Julian.

Jonne Valtonen

Jonne Valtonen (born March 23, 1976) is a Finnish composer, arranger and orchestrator. He is renowned for his contributions in the field of demoscene and tracker music, under the name Purple Motion, and with Future Crew.

Kenji Yamamoto (composer born 1964)

Kenji Yamamoto (山本 健誌, Yamamoto Kenji, born April 25, 1964) is a Japanese video game musician working for Nintendo, where he is notable for composing music in many titles of the Metroid series, mainly Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy. Yamamoto also plays a role as a music director at Nintendo, overseeing the audio for several of their games. He frequently collaborates with fellow composers Minako Hamano and Masaru Tajima.

In development of Super Metroid, Yamamoto came up with some of the game's themes by humming them to himself while riding his motorcycle to work. He was asked to compose the music for Metroid Prime to reinforce the series' continuity. Metroid Prime's Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound was mixed by a member of Dolby Digital. Developers from Retro Studios noted how the process of fitting all the sound effects for a world in Metroid Prime into 6 MB of space was crucial in producing a quality aural experience, as each sound had to be of very high quality to be included. Yamamoto utilizes heavy drums, piano, voiced chants, clangs of pipes, and electric guitar. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption took advantage of the increase in the amount of RAM that took place when the series switched from the GameCube to the Wii; this allowed for higher quality audio samples to be used and thus a better overall audio quality.The music from Metroid and other games have been played by ensembles and concerts. An orchestral arrangement of his music is included in PLAY! A Video Game Symphony that toured the United States and Europe and made its Asian debut at the 2007 Singapore Arts Festival.In an interview with Music4Games, Yamamoto detailed his experience working on the Metroid Prime trilogy. He described his thoughts on the inclusion of themes from Super Metroid as well as his composition process and sources of inspiration. He intends to continue working on the Metroid series into the future.

Machinae Supremacy

Machinae Supremacy are a Swedish band that combines modern heavy metal, power metal and alternative rock with chiptunes. Self-defined as "SID metal", many of their songs use a SidStation that features the SID chip of the Commodore 64. They have released 32 original recordings for free download on their site, with approximately 100,000 downloads a month.Deus Ex Machinae, the band's first commercial album was released in 2004 through the independent (and now defunct) MbD Records UK. The band is currently signed to Spinefarm Records, through which they released their second studio album, Redeemer in 2006, and a few more studio albums, with their latest album, Into the Night World, released on 16 December 2016, independently.

Merregnon

Merregnon is a soundtrack CD project for which video game music composers contribute new titles. By writing orchestral music the artists tell a story taking place in a newly created fantasy universe.

Composers such as Chris Hülsbeck (Turrican), Yuzo Koshiro (Shenmue), Fabian Del Priore (Cultures 2) and Andy Brick (The Sims 2) have joined this international project.

Music of Chrono Cross

The Chrono series is a video game franchise developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It began in 1995 with the time travel role-playing video game Chrono Trigger, which spawned two continuations, Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The music of Chrono Cross was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the main composer of Chrono Trigger and Radical Dreamers. Chrono Cross has sparked a soundtrack album, released in 1999 by DigiCube and re-released in 2005 by Square Enix, and a greatest hits mini-album, published in 2000 by Square along with the North American release of the game. Radical Dreamers, the music of which heavily inspired the soundtrack of Chrono Cross, has not sparked any albums, though some songs from its soundtrack were reused in Chrono Cross. An album of arrangements of Chrono Cross songs was first announced by Mitsuda in 2005, and later intended to be released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the game in 2009; its release date was pushed back several times since then. In 2015, Mitsuda released an album of arranged music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross entitled To Far Away Times to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Chrono Trigger.

The original soundtrack album has been hailed as an excellent video game music album, while the Chrono Cross Music Selection mini-album has garnered little attention. Songs from the soundtrack have been played at various orchestral concerts, such as the personal arrangements by Mitsuda for the Play! A Video Game Symphony concert series. Chrono Cross music has also been extensively remixed by fans, and such remixes have been included in both official and unofficial albums.

Music of Chrono Trigger

The Chrono series is a video game franchise developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It began in 1995 with the time travel role-playing video game Chrono Trigger, which spawned two continuations, Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The music of Chrono Trigger was mainly composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, with a few tracks composed by regular Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The Chrono Trigger soundtrack has inspired four official album releases by Square Enix: a soundtrack album in released by NTT Publishing in 1995 and re-released in 2004, a greatest hits album published by DigiCube in 1999, published in abbreviated form by Tokyopop in 2001, and republished by Square Enix in 2005, an acid jazz arrangement album published and republished by NTT Publishing in 1995 and 2004, and a 2008 orchestral arranged album by Square Enix. Corresponding with the Nintendo DS release of the game, a reissued soundtrack was released in 2009. An arranged album for Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, entitled To Far Away Times, was released in 2015 to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of Chrono Trigger.

The original soundtrack has been hailed as one of the best video game soundtracks ever made, and the Original Sound Version album met with similar applause. The reception for the other albums has been mixed, with the releases finding both fans and detractors among reviewers. Songs from the soundtrack have been played at various orchestral concerts, such as the personal arrangements by Mitsuda for the Play! A Video Game Symphony concert series. Chrono Cross music has also been extensively remixed by fans, and such remixes have been included in both official and unofficial albums.

Music of the Final Fantasy series

Final Fantasy is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and owned by Square Enix that includes video games, motion pictures, and other merchandise. The series began in 1987 as an eponymous role-playing video game developed by Square, spawning a video game series that became the central focus of the franchise. The music of the Final Fantasy series refers to the soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series of video games, as well as the surrounding medley of soundtrack, arranged, and compilation albums. The series' music ranges from very light background music to emotionally intense interweavings of character and situation leitmotifs.

The franchise includes a main series of numbered games as well as several spin-off series such as Crystal Chronicles and the Final Fantasy Tactics series. The primary composer of music for the main series was Nobuo Uematsu, who single-handedly composed the soundtracks for the first nine games, as well as directing the production of many of the albums. Music for the spin-off series and main series games beginning with Final Fantasy X was created by a variety of composers including Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Kumi Tanioka, and Yoko Shimomura.

The majority of Final Fantasy games, including all of the main series games, have received a soundtrack album release. Many have also inspired orchestral, vocal, or piano arrangement albums. In addition to the regular albums, a number of compilation albums of tracks from multiple games have been produced both by Square Enix and outside groups. Music from the original soundtracks of the games has been arranged as sheet music for the piano and published by DOREMI Music Publishing, while sheet music from the piano albums have been published by Yamaha Music Media. The franchise's music has been performed numerous times in concert tours and other live performances such as the Orchestral Game Music Concerts, Symphonic Game Music Concerts, and the Play! A Video Game Symphony and Video Games Live concert tours, as well as forming the basis of specific Final Fantasy concerts such as the Dear Friends and Distant Worlds concert tours.

Nobuo Uematsu

Nobuo Uematsu (植松 伸夫, Uematsu Nobuo, born March 21, 1959) is a Japanese video game composer, best known for scoring most of the titles in the Final Fantasy series by Square Enix. He is considered to be one of the most well known composers in the video game industry. Sometimes referred to as the "Beethoven of video games music", he has appeared five times in the top 20 of the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame.

Uematsu, a self-taught musician, began playing the piano at the age of twelve, with English singer-songwriter Elton John as his biggest influence. Uematsu joined Square in 1986, where he first met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The two later worked together on many titles at the company, most notably in the Final Fantasy series. After nearly two decades with Square, Uematsu left in 2004 to create his own production company, which included the Dog Ear Records music label. He has since composed music as a freelancer for other games, including ones developed by Square Enix and Sakaguchi's development studio, Mistwalker.

Many soundtracks and arranged albums of Uematsu's game scores have been released. Pieces from his video game works have been performed in various Final Fantasy concerts, where he has worked with Grammy Award–winning conductor Arnie Roth on several of these performances. From 2002 to 2010, he was in a hard rock band with Square Enix colleagues Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito called The Black Mages, in which he played electronic organ and other keyboards. The band played various arranged rock versions of Uematsu's Final Fantasy compositions. He has since performed with Earthbound Papas, which he formed as the successor to The Black Mages in 2011.

Orchestral Game Music Concerts

The Orchestral Game Music Concerts (オーケストラによるゲーム音楽コンサート, Ōkesutora ni yoru Gēmu Ongaku Konsāto) were a series of Japanese video game music concerts. The events took place in Tokyo from 1991 to 1996 and were performed by different orchestras. Recordings of the concerts were released as a series of albums, which are known for their rarity.

Yasunori Mitsuda

Yasunori Mitsuda (光田 康典, Mitsuda Yasunori, born January 21, 1972) is a Japanese composer, musician, and sound producer. He is best known for his work in video games, primarily for the Chrono, Xeno, Shadow Hearts, and Inazuma Eleven franchises, among various others. Mitsuda began composing music for his own games in high school, later attending the Junior College of Music in Tokyo. As part of his college course, he was granted an intern position at the game development studio Wolf Team, studying under composer Motoi Sakuraba. Upon graduation in 1992, he joined Square after seeing a magazine advertisement in an office he was visiting with his professor.

Despite his job title as a composer, Mitsuda worked as a sound effects designer for two years. In 1994, after threatening to quit to Square's vice president, Hironobu Sakaguchi, he was assigned to compose the soundtrack to Chrono Trigger. After the game's success and the music's acclaim, he went on to compose several other games for Square, including Xenogears. In 1998, Mitsuda left Square to work as a freelance composer, founding his own music production studio in 2001, Procyon Studio, as well as his own record label, Sleigh Bells. Although Mitsuda continues to compose for video games, he began to expand and produce music for other media throughout the 2010s, such as anime series, films, television specials, and independent albums.

Yuzo Koshiro

Yuzo Koshiro (古代 祐三, Koshiro Yūzō, born December 12, 1967 in Hino, Tokyo) is a Japanese video game music composer, arranger, music programmer, and president of the game development company, Ancient. He is often regarded as one of the most influential innovators in chiptune and video game music, producing music in a number of genres, including various electronic genres (such as breakbeat, electro, hardcore, house, jungle, techno, and trance), experimental, symphonic, hip hop, jazz, and synth-rock.Nintendo Power once stated that Koshiro was "arguably the greatest game-music composer of the 16-bit age" and that he "created some of the most memorable game music of the late '80s and early '90s." 1UP stated he was the "king" of FM synthesis chiptune music. He has produced some of the most influential role-playing video game scores, for titles such as Nihon Falcom's Dragon Slayer and Ys series, as well as ActRaiser and Beyond Oasis. GameAxis Unwired stated that his "progressive, catchy, techno-style compositions" for games such as The Revenge of Shinobi, Misty Blue, and the Streets of Rage series were "far more advanced than what players were used to" and set a "new high watermark for what music in games could sound like." The Streets of Rage soundtracks are considered ahead of their time, featuring a "blend of swaggering house synths," "dirty" electro-funk, and early trance elements.His influence also extends to the popular music industry, particularly within the electronic dance music genre. His work remains highly regarded within the chiptune community, and has influenced artists outside of it, including electronic music artists such as Ikonika, BT, Labrinth, Martyn, Joker, Darkstar, Danger, and Just Blaze. Koshiro's Streets of Rage soundtracks in particular have been compared to later electronic dance music, and have influenced electronica, grime and dubstep producers. Outside of composing music, Koshiro, along with his sister, found the game development company Ancient in 1990, where he has composed for many of the games the company has produced.

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