This week I thought we'd check in with some of the top orchestral video game music concert tours currently underway. We'll take a look at some reviews of 2015 performances from the respective tours, and we'll also take a look at video from some of the most recent concert performances.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
Originating as a simple four-minute overture performed at a Nintendo press event in 2011, Symphony of the Goddesses kicked off as a full-fledged concert tour in January 2012 and currently has 33 dates scheduled for 2016 that will take the popular tour all around the world. The concert's program lineup focuses exclusively on famous music from the Legend of Zelda games. In a review of the September 25th 2015 performance at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island, Broadway World critic Andria Tieman wrote, "Overall, this was a night of fantastic music, excellent people-watching and a fun, visual performance. This is something that Zelda fans should certainly seek out." Here's a video clip from the Oct. 30th 2015 broadcast of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which the Symphony of the Goddesses tour performed their Legend of Zelda Medley:
Video Games Live
This concert tour has been around since 2005 and is still going strong, with over 23 scheduled dates set for 2016 and more on the way. The tour includes well-loved musical works from a variety of awesome video games, both classic and modern. Original Sound Version posted a review of the March 8 2015 performance of the tour at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. In the review, music journalist Ryan Paquet wrote, "The great thing about Video Games Live is that they have local orchestras and choirs perform their shows. This choice is smart as it saves the cost of traveling with musicians, but more importantly it allows communities to experience the wonderful talent of their local musicians." Here's a video from that performance in Ottawa. The music comes from the video game franchise Mass Effect.
Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy
This tour focuses solely on the music of a single video game composer, Nobuo Uematsu, and his work for the Final Fantasy series of roleplaying games. Kicking off its worldwide tour in December 2007, Distant Worlds currently has three concerts scheduled for 2016. In a review of the Jan. 31st 2015 performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, OriginalGameScore.com wrote, "Given the applause and shouts for an encore as Uematsu and crew left the stage, I think it's safe to say everyone there had a great time." Here's a performance of the "Jenova Complete" composition from Final Fantasy VII, performed in Los Angeles on June 17, 2015:
Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions
This concert tour is fairly young, having made its world premiere in August 2014 at the Warner Theater in Washington DC. The tour features the music of the Pokémon video games, and has four concerts scheduled so far for 2016.
In a review of the Jan. 17 2015 performance at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Max Parker of Post-Gazette.com wrote, "Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions is a must see for any fan of the series."
Here's a performance of the "Pokémon Main Menu" composition, as it was heard at the Boston performance on August 22, 2015:
Final Symphony / Final Symphony II
These two concert tours are both run by Merregnon Studios, a production company responsible for both CD soundtrack releases and several live concert tours showcasing video game music. Both the Final Symphony and Final Symphony II concert tours specialize in the music of the Final Fantasy series, with the former concert focusing on Final Fantasy VI, VII and X, while the latter concerts showcase the music of Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX and XIII. Final Symphony premiered in May of 2013 and continues to tour, with two dates announced for 2016. Having made its world premiere in August 2015, Final Symphony II is the newest concert tour currently performing around the world, with two dates currently on its 2016 schedule. In a review of the Sept. 2015 performance of Final Symphony II by the London Symphony Orchestra, music journalist Stephen Little of Cubed Gamers wrote, "Final Symphony II was stunning. The London Symphony Orchestra are the best in the world, with few peers. Indeed the music was so good that only they could have done it full justice." Here are some video excerpts from the performance by the London Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 12, 2015:
Winifred Phillips is an award-winning video game music composer whose most recent project is the triple-A first person shooter Homefront: The Revolution. Her credits include five of the most famous and popular franchises in video gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER'S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. As a VR game music expert, she writes frequently on the future of music in virtual reality video games.
Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.