Monday, August 07, 2006

Why Isn't the Boston Pops in on This?

I just discovered there's a touring show called "Play: A Video Game Symphony."

Each performance is done by a local orchestra. Local as in, say, the National Symphony Orchestra--not exactly a bunch of slouches. The NSO performed "Play" this past Friday night in Virginia at Wolf Trap, which is sort of the Northern Virginia equivalent of Tanglewood, but a lot closer to the city. (Very nice venue, I can tell you from personal experience.)

You read that correctly--music from video games. And why should that strike anyone as strange? Orchestras have been giving programs with movie music for decades now. The music from many video games is wonderful, and--if not exactly Beethoven--is certainly as symphonically rich and evocative as a James Horner film score.

From the Washington Post:

The brainchild of 29-year-old Jason Michael Paul, who says that he was the first kid on his block to own a Sega Genesis, "Play!" debuted in May, making stops in Chicago, Stockholm, Detroit and, most recently, Philadelphia. (Two years ago, Paul produced the first video game concert in the United States, "Dear Friends -- Music From 'Final Fantasy.' ") Paul and the show's conductor, Arnie Roth, have come up with a program that runs the gamut of game music, from "Sonic the Hedgehog" to "Metal Gear Solid." Roth, who's worked with the likes of Diana Ross, Charlotte Church and Art Garfunkel, is an outsider to games.
(See Keith Lockhart, you wouldn't even have to conduct. They bring their own.)

This could be just the sort of thing for my son, who got somewhat burned out on orchestral music when I was marketing director for a small symphony. But I checked the current touring schedule, and I see no local dates--no Boston Pops, no BSO.

What gives? It's okay to salute Oscar and Tony, but not The Legend of Zelda? Why is it okay to play John Williams but not Nobuo Uematsu? Huh? Huh? This is a guy who has concerts devoted just to his music alone (forget the other gaming composers), but I'm not seeing him on the Pops schedule. (BTW, I love John Williams' film scores--I was just making a comparison.)

Goodness knows we have enough computer programmers, web developers, Internet entrepreneurs, and just all around gaming fanatics to fill Symphony Hall for such a show. Now, if Mr. Lockhart tells me that he's just holding out until they add some of the music from Katamari Damacy--truly the musical standout of the last two years in video games, then I'll understand and forgive. But until then, we're waiting.


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