‘Play! A Video Game Symphony' immortalizes the heroes of our youth, and brings to light the majesty and creativity involved in creating the soundscape of the games we know and love... and yes, it is a real symphony, a live musical event coming to a symphonic hall near you, so to enjoy it, you are going to have to get dressed and get out from behind your computer.
In late 2009, we had our first opportunity to review ‘Play! A Video Game Symphony' at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This traveling project comes from the team who presented the Dear Friends-Music from FINAL FANTASY Symphony Tour; with those involved including Principal Conductor and Music Director Arnie Roth, Associate Conductor Andy Brick, and Producer Jason M. Paul.
With suites from popular games including Halo, World of Warcraft, and Kingdom Hearts, as well as those revered classics such as Super Mario Brothers, Sonic The Hedgehog, and The Legend of Zelda; ‘Play!' was a delight to the ears. Not to ignore the other senses, the audience was pleased and entertained by three large screens which hung above the performing orchestra, displaying much loved scenes from the originating games to accompany the music. Never before have I experienced the true awe-inspiring legacies of these characters. Watching the musical and visual compilation of Mario and his adventures through Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario World, Paper Mario, and others all the way up to Super Mario Galaxy, has immortalized the heroic plumber in a way that I wouldn't have believed possible. For the first time, it seemed that these were not just a string of games, but rather a continuous story of one brave hero who battled against dangers great and small, struggling through the ages as he defied destruction, and rose to become the champion of countless worlds. To be honest, it was a little hard to hold back the tears.
Music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross also made an appearance, vauntingly showcasing the creativity and raw talent that goes into the craft of video game development. It is worth mentioning that the video game imagery did not overwhelm the performance either. The visuals were large enough to see clearly, but not so massive as to dominate the orchestra and thus remove the pleasure of experiencing the symphony in person. I'd certify that this experience is well worth the cost of admission, and I'm certain that the rest of the audience would agree. Riotous applause was the result of the excellent performance accompanied by the more famous or humorous scenes from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past, and others; a clear tip of the hat to the true fans.
Due to the high quality of the Symphony, the well balanced score, and the moving atmosphere, ‘Play!' was also well received by those with little to no gaming experience. Even the purists seemed to find their worlds rocked by the moving final encore performance of the Sephiroth theme "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII. Regardless of who you are, if Play! A Video Game Symphony comes to your area, take our advice and go for it. You won't be disappointed.