Video Games Live (VGL) is a concert series created by Tommy Tallarico and originally founded by Tallarico and Jack Wall. The concerts consist of segments of video game music performed by a live orchestra with video footage and synchronized lighting and effects, as well as several interactive segments with the audience. Incorporated in 2002, Video Games Live has performed over 420 shows internationally.
|Video Games Live|
|Genre||Video game music, Symphonic music, Orchestral music, Choral music|
|Inaugurated||July 6, 2005 (at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, California)|
|Most recent||November 17, 2018, Long Island, NY, USA|
|Website||Video Games Live Official Website|
Video Games Live was founded by video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall in 2002, and the duo formed Mystical Stone Entertainment, the business that runs VGL. Tallarico and Wall took three years planning the first show, developing the technology needed to synchronize lights, videos, effects, and the concert itself. The technology for communicating between the person running the concert, the conductor, and their performers was also developed.
The concert debuted on July 6, 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl, where the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performed to an audience of 11,000 people. Three concerts were held the first year. In 2006, the concert re-launched with an 11-show world tour. The concert was expanded to 30 cities in 2007 and 47 cities in 2008, and over 50 cities in 2009. More than 300 shows were held between 2009 and 2016. In 2010, Jack Wall left Video Games Live to pursue his game composing career.
Each concert is performed by a local symphonic orchestra and musicians. Video Games Live has performed for millions of people across the globe, including in the Middle East, China, South Korea, Japan, Europe, South America, and Australia. In 2015, VGL performed at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with more than 200 musicians on stage including the Colorado Symphony and Choir. In 2016, 2 shows were performed at the Bird’s Nest National Olympic Stadium in Beijing to over 30,000 people. Tallarico chooses different songs for each show, based upon the area's favorite game series (such as Final Fantasy in Japan and League of Legends in South Korea) and by asking fans at future venues what songs they would like to hear. Over the past decade, Video Games Live has performed with symphonies including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra, and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Video Games Live features more than 175 unique music segments from video games of all eras, such as Final Fantasy, Halo, World of Warcraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and Metal Gear Solid. Other segments feature retro arcade games such as Tetris and Donkey Kong. Video footage of each game is shown during its segment, and this is often accompanied by special effects.
The pre-show event features a costume—or cosplay—contest for people dressing as video game characters. Another contest has concert-goers playing classic games, such as Frogger or Space Invaders, or musical video games, such as Guitar Hero. The winner of these contests is taken up on stage during the show, and plays the game in front of the audience and along with the orchestra.
The concerts often feature solo performers. Martin Leung, who became known on the Internet for playing video game songs on a piano while blindfolded, routinely performed during the concerts between 2005-2012. Also discovered on the internet, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Laura Intravia appears at the shows often, as well as Lindsey Stirling, Malukah, Peter Hollens, and brentalfloss. VGL occasionally features local video game cover bands like The Megas and Random Encounter. During performances Tallarico plays guitar for some segments, from worldbeat-like folk for Chrono Trigger to heavy metal for Final Fantasy VII and themes from Castlevania. Large screens are set up behind the symphony and synchronized to the music. In general, the visuals are from the video game the song being played. However, there are non-video game films presented to connect the music to other areas: for the Medal of Honor, a series of video games devoted to military combat, the screen shows real films from World War II, and for Disney’s Kingdom Hearts, the historic Disney films the game is based on are screened.
The show involves interactive segments where audience members can play video games, synchronized in real-time by the orchestra. The concerts on occasion feature interviews with video game composers, sometimes live or through video. Examples of invited composers include Koji Kondo, composer of Mario and Zelda; Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori, composers of Halo and Destiny; Wataru Hokoyama, who composed the soundtrack to Afrika; Austin Wintory, the first video game composer nominated for a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for the music in Journey; Christopher Tin, the first video game composer to win a Grammy for his song "Baba Yetu" on Civilization IV; Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian of Monkey Island; Russell Brower, who composed music for the World of Warcraft and StarCraft series; and Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS from Portal. In post-show Meet & Greets, VGL has hosted guests such as Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and Zelda; Gabe Newell, founder of Valve; and Sid Meier, creator of the Civilization series.
Video Games Live, Volume 1, a recording of various segments from multiple shows, was released on July 22, 2008. The music on the album was performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra (except where noted), and was released by EMI Classics. It debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 10 for Classical Music Crossovers. It was also named 2008 Best Video Game Soundtrack from both IGN and G.A.N.G.
Video Games Live: Level 2 was released as a DVD, Blu-ray and CD on October 19, 2010 by Shout! Factory. This was a live recording which coincided with their national television special on PBS. The music was performed by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (except where noted), and debuted at #8 on the Billboard charts, at a live show in New Orleans.
Despite the success of the first two albums, the large upfront costs of hiring so many musicians and renting out studio time made it unattractive for record companies. Video Games Live: Level 3 was released in 2014, and was funded by 5,679 fans on Kickstarter, beating its goal of $250,000 by $35,081. Unlike the previous albums, this one was recorded in a studio featuring a full orchestra, a 60-person choir, a full rock band and video game composers from around the world. Each segment was personally arranged and orchestrated by their original composers and input from the game designers, developers, and publishers was used, some of which were invited to play in the record themselves. The album was the third-largest album funded on Kickstarter at the time. Level 3 was recorded in a studio with over 175 musicians, primarily the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Emmanuel Fratianni and mixed at Skywalker Ranch by Leslie Ann Jones. The album featured compositions and performances by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill), Norihiko Hibino (Metal Gear Solid), and Jillian Aversa (God of War and Halo). It also had performances by Laura Intravia ("Flute Link") and Chris Kline (Vertexguy). The album also featured a live version of Portal's "Still Alive" performed in Chile, in which the audience can be heard cheering, chanting, and signing along.
Video Games Live: Level 4 was released in 2015. Like Level 3, it was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and passed its goal of $150,000, to reach $187,646. Also like Level 3, it was performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and conducted by Fratianni. As a bonus for exceeding the financial goal of the Kickstarter campaign, VGL released Through Time and Space: Chrono Piano Album concomitantly. It features music composed by Yasunori Mitsuda for the games Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger, with the piano versions arranged by Laura Intravia (also providing vocals) and performed by Brendon Shapiro.
Video Games Live: Level 5 was released in 2016. VGL also used Kickstarter, raising $264,931 through 3,658 backers. VGL worked with the Prague Philharmonic with Eímear Noone conducting and Leslie Ann Jones engineering at Skywalker Ranch. As a bonus for exceeding the goal, the project includes a documentary on the making of the music, plus added tracks. The project involved another piano album, Shall we Play? Majora’s Mask Piano Album, featuring music from Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, arranged by Intravia and performed by Shapiro.
The April 1, 2010 New Orleans concert was taped and broadcast on July 31, 2010 on PBS. The special was later released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010 and contains additional segments, behind the scenes footage, making of Video Games Live, interactive angles, exclusive game developer and composer interviews, and special never before seen game trailers. The PBS special appeared in the United States, and was also broadcast multiple times on Sky Arts TV in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
Video Games Live has been praised for bridging the generational gap by showing older generations that video game music is not just "bleeps and bloops." Wall and Tallarico saw the concert as a way to show "how culturally significant video games and video game music are in the world today." Tallarico often contends that, were Beethoven alive today, he would compose music for video games as a comment about the relevance for new media on the classical music artform.
VGL also aims to show video gamers how moving classical music is. As Emily Reese, a host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio, noted concerning a 2010 VGL show, "89 percent of attendees had never been to Orchestra Hall for a classical concerts [...] and fifty percent had never even stepped through its doors." By performing with local orchestras at each location, Tallarico hopes VGL encourages video gamers to attend more classical concerts. He comments that parents often send grateful letters about their children picking up a musical instrument after a concert.
When the show is performed in Brazil, it is subsidized by the government for getting young people involved in the arts. In March 2016, VGL was placed in the Guinness Book of World Records for two accomplishments: the most number of shows by a symphony (357 at the time), and another for largest audience to ever watch a symphony show live (752,109 people in Beijing, China in 2015).
VGL was profiled on the cover of Symphony Magazine in 2014 and it has performed at gaming industry events including E3, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, the Game Developers Conference, Gen Con, and San Diego Comic Con. It has been featured on classical music radio stations.
The 2000s in video gaming was a decade that was primarily dominated by Sony, Nintendo, the newcomer Microsoft, and their respective systems. Sega, being Nintendo's main rival in the 1980s and 1990s, left the console market in 2002 in favor of returning to the third party company they once were. Overall the decade saw the last of the low resolution three-dimensional polygons of the 1990s with the emergence of High Definition games, and often focused on developing immersive and interactive environments, implementing realistic physics, and improving artificial intelligence.Baba Yetu
"Baba Yetu" (Swahili: "Our Father") is the theme song for the 2005 video game, Civilization IV. It was composed by Christopher Tin, and performed by Ron Ragin and the Stanford Talisman. For its re-release in Tin's debut album Calling All Dawns, it was performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. The song, when rereleased, became the first piece of video game music to be nominated for and to win a Grammy Award.BlizzCon
BlizzCon is an annual gaming convention held by Blizzard Entertainment to promote its major franchises Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. The first BlizzCon was held in October 2005 and since then all of conventions have been held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, in the same metropolitan area as Blizzard's headquarters in Irvine. The convention features game-related announcements, previews of upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games and content, Q&A sessions and panels, costume contests and playable versions of various Blizzard games. The closing night has featured concerts by The Offspring, Tenacious D, Foo Fighters, Ozzy Osbourne, Blink-182, Metallica, Linkin Park, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and Muse. A similar event was the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, held outside the U.S. from 2004–2008.Conan (2007 video game)
Conan is a 2007 action-adventure video game that puts players in control of the titular hero, Conan the Barbarian, from Robert E. Howard's fantasy literature. The game was published by THQ for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. Its developer, Nihilistic Software, was inspired by the God of War and Ninja Gaiden video games to create an experience featuring gore and nudity.
In Conan, the hero is on a quest to recover his lost armor and defeat an evil wizard. Conan can fight with sword and shield, two-handed weapons, or a weapon in each hand. Starting with several basic attacks, the barbarian gains experience points by killing enemies. By exchanging these points for additional attacks, players improve the hero's fighting abilities. Magic powers complement Conan's arsenal, including the abilities to turn enemies into stone and conjure firestorms. The game also features context-sensitive action sequences in which players press a sequence of buttons displayed on the screen to complete actions such as killing powerful enemies and interacting with the environment.
Critics enjoyed Conan's combat system and gory kills, but said that the game failed to match the experience offered in God of War. Reactions varied on the game's depiction of the Conan universe; several critics praised the emulation of Frank Frazetta's famous artwork, but others found the game's graphics drab and of low resolution. Regarding the audio, Golden Globe-winning actor Ron Perlman was both praised and criticized for his voice work as Conan. Composer Mike Reagan received acclaim for the game's music and later gave live performances of the game's soundtrack at Video Games Live shows. Despite the average reviews and commercial success of the Conan franchise, Conan sold poorly and was a financial loss for THQ.Duck Hunt
Duck Hunt is a 1984 light gun shooter video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game console. The game was first released in Japan in April 1984, and was released as a launch game for the NES in North America in October 1985, with it also releasing in Europe two years later.
In Duck Hunt, players use the NES Zapper in combination with a CRT television to shoot ducks that appear on the screen. The ducks appear one or two at a time, and the player is given three shots to shoot them down. The player receives points upon shooting each duck. If the player shoots the required number of ducks in a single round, the player will advance to the next round; otherwise, the player will receive a game over.
The game initially received few reviews, but was given mild critical praise. Prior to the NES version, Nintendo also made a Duck Hunt game based on Laser Clay Shooting System released in 1976. It was later a pack-in game, paired with Super Mario Bros.; the pack later also included World Class Track Meet. The game was released as a Virtual Console title for the Wii U in 2014.Electronic Opus
Electronic Opus is a remix album by trance DJ BT, released on October 12, 2015.Emmanuel Fratianni
Emmanuel Fratianni is a conductor, composer and jazz pianist active in the international concert world as well as the music of film, television, video games. Born in the city of Montreux, Switzerland of Italian origin, Emmanuel retains right to work status in both the United States and European Union. Beginning in 2010 he was awarded the position of principal conductor of the internationally acclaimed concert series Video Games Live, and is also known for his compositions on the multi-award-winning score of the video game Advent Rising.Gamer Symphony Orchestra at the University of Maryland
The Gamer Symphony Orchestra at the University of Maryland (often referred to as the GSO, UMGSO, or UMDGSO) is a student-run symphony orchestra and chorus at the University of Maryland. The orchestra is the first collegiate ensemble to draw its repertoire exclusively from the music of video games. Most of GSO's members are non-music majors The orchestra holds a free concert every semester during the academic year and yearly charity fundraisers that benefit the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.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.Halo 3 Original Soundtrack
Halo 3 Original Soundtrack is the official soundtrack to Bungie's first-person shooter video game Halo 3. Most of the original music was composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, but also includes a bonus track, "LvUrFR3NZ", which was the winning entry in a contest held before the soundtrack's release. The 2-CD set was released on November 20, 2007.
For the next game in the Halo trilogy, O'Donnell added new themes as well as bringing back and expanding old ones, some of which had never been recorded with a full orchestra before. The score made extensive use of the piano, an instrument which O'Donnell used frequently for composition but that had not been featured in previous Halo music. In addition to scoring the game, the music was used for promotional advertisements and trailers preceding Halo 3's release. The game's score and its soundtrack were generally well received. The soundtrack reached the Billboard 200 chart, and also broke the top twenty best-selling soundtracks and independent albums listings. The score was nominated for X-Play's "Best of 2007" awards, under best original soundtrack.Jack Wall (composer)
Jack Wall (born 1964 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania) is an American video game music composer. He has worked on video game music for over 20 games including the Myst franchise, Splinter Cell, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Call of Duty. Wall earned a degree in civil engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and, after a brief stint working in civil engineering, transitioned into music production. He worked with musicians such as John Cale, David Byrne, and Patti Smith, and, after performing increasingly complex production and sound engineering tasks, moved into music composition in 1995.
Wall immediately began working in the video game industry, composing the soundtrack to Vigilance. Primarily composing in an orchestral style, by 2001 he composed the soundtrack to Myst III: Exile, which was the title he says put him on the map as a video game composer. In 2002, Wall became one of around 20 co-founders of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) as well as senior director. In 2005, Wall, along with G.A.N.G. founder and fellow composer Tommy Tallarico, produced the Video Games Live concert series, having served as the conductor for the international concert tour. His latest released soundtrack is that of 2018's Black Ops 4. His soundtracks for Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Rise of the Kasai, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Mass Effect 2 were nominated for and won multiple awards.Jillian Aversa
Jillian Aversa (born March 4, 1986) is an American vocalist and composer best known for her contributions to video game soundtracks, YouTube music videos, and as a soloist with the international concert tour Video Games Live. In addition to her performances of video game music, she is a composer of contemporary New Age/World music and has released several solo albums to critical acclaim and widespread radio airplay.Kinuyo Yamashita
Kinuyo Yamashita (山下 絹代, Yamashita Kinuyo) is a Japanese video game music composer and sound producer. Her best known soundtrack is Konami's Castlevania, which was also her debut work. She was credited under the pseudonym James Banana for her work on the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game. This pseudonym was a pun of the name James Bernard, the film composer of the 1958 film Dracula.Laura Intravia
Laura Intravia, also known as Flute Link, is an American instrumentalist, vocalist, and arranger. She is best known for her performances of video game music as a soloist with Video Games Live.Marcus Henderson (musician)
Marcus Henderson (born March 16, 1973) is a rock and heavy metal guitarist from the San Francisco Bay area. His previous bands include Drist and Hellbillys as well as work for En Vogue and Simon Stinger. In 2005, he was chosen to take the role as one of the lead guitarists for the Guitar Hero series. Marcus is also the on-screen guitarist for the Hal Leonard DVD books "Metal Guitar" and "Guitar Technique".
In August 2009, Henderson filmed the guitar instructional video, "Rock Guitar Heroics" in Santa Rosa, CA.Splitting Adam
Splitting Adam is a Canadian contemporary rock band from Vancouver consisting of five band members: Seren (lead vocals), Thompson (guitar / keyboards / vocals), Antonio (guitar), Rob (bass) and Jordo (drums).
In 2000, Splitting Adam licensed two songs to NBC for use in the television series Just Deal.
After solidifying their line-up in 2005, the band licensed their single ("On My Own" on YouTube) to Electronic Arts' Need For Speed: Undercover (NFSU). In 2008, before the official release of the game, the band performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as part of Video Games Live (VGL), featuring never-before-seen footage from NFSU. In 2009, they toured with VGL, making appearances alongside various major symphonies including the Calgary Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and San Diego Symphony Orchestras.
See Canadian Videogame Awards "performance" on YouTube, Vancouver BC (May 5, 2010).
Following their VGL tour, the band formed a brief partnership with Rethink Communications in creating their new album cover. Under the direction of former Art Director Jeff Harrison, the album was nominated for a Grammy award in the category "Best Recording Package" on YouTube. Splitting Adam remains one of the few independent bands to have earned a Grammy nomination.
The band made their last appearance as an ensemble in April 2010, outside Rogers Arena.
The name Splitting Adam arises from the topic of human creation - the theory of evolution ("splitting" the atom) combined with a literal biblical interpretation ("Adam" and Eve).The Megas (band)
The Megas is a Los Angeles based independent video game cover band based on the Capcom franchise, Mega Man. They differentiate themselves from artists who have played Mega Man music in the past by adding original lyrics and composing new sections which blend seamlessly with the original compositions. Their lyrics expand on the simple story laid out in the games, giving each of the 8 Robot Masters a unique personality. Their debut album, Get Equipped, based on Mega Man 2, was released in January 2008.
The band has gained notoriety in the video game music scene due to their popularity on sites like Newgrounds and MySpace, as well as numerous live performances all over the United States, primarily at video game conventions and festivals such as MAGfest, Nerdapalooza, and various dates of the Video Games Live tour. Their song "The Annihilation of Monsteropolis/Airman" was featured on the front page of the popular video game music remixing site OverClocked ReMix, and the band itself has been mentioned on Wired magazine's blog, the official Capcom blog and an article on Gibson Guitars' website. The Megas were mentioned again on the official Capcom blog after the release of their acoustic album, Get Acoustic.On May 15, 2014, The Megas released their third album, History Repeating: Red, the second half of their take on Mega Man 3. This follows their release of History Repeating: Blue on June 18, 2012.Tommy Tallarico
Tommy Tallarico (born February 18, 1968) is an American video game music composer, musician, sound designer, television personality and live show creative director and producer. He has worked on over 300 video game titles since the 1990s and received numerous awards for his contribution to the video game industry. He is the creator of the concert series Video Games Live (VGL), a multi-award-winning symphony orchestra that has played video game music across the world since 2002. He also co-hosted the television shows Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run from 1997 until 2006. VGL and Tallarico hold several Guinness World Records.Vertexguy
Christopher Paul "Chris" Kline (born August 8, 1979 in Yankton, South Dakota) is an American artist/musician best known as "Vertexguy" or the "Vertex Guy". His artwork and music is present in several video games spanning more than a dozen titles across several console and PC platforms. His guitar renditions of classic video game songs have also been performed live at award shows and in concert with Video Games Live.