On Wednesday, July 6 the Los Angeles Philharmonic will present their second concert of video game music, this time at the Hollywood Bowl conducted by Mark Watters. Last year’s “Final Fantasy” concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall was the first live concert of video game music in the United States and was a huge success. I played classical guitar on several cues that night and was amazed by the huge enthusiastic crowd. I’ve never been much of a gamer so I wasn’t familiar with the Final Fantasy series or its overwhelming popularity. Just before the concert began, the game designer and composer walked into the hall with a small entourage, the women dressed in traditional Japanese garb. All of a sudden the crowd erupted in a huge extended roar when they recognized their heroes. It was a reaction I wasn’t prepared for. When I found out later that tickets on Ebay had been selling for hundreds of dollars, I was totally flabbergasted.
Video games are big business, rivaling even movie box office revenues. The use of live musicians and large orchestras for game scores has taken hold and add an extra sophisticated element to digital games and their storytelling. Even the musicians union has recognized its importance by establishing a wage scale for the recording of music for games.
Whenever events like these attract young concertgoers who might otherwise never have stepped foot in an orchestral concert, it’s a really good thing. They get to hear a first-class orchestra performing music they’re familiar with and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be interested in coming back for more.