Canadian L’Orchestre de Jeux Video (The Video Game Orchestra) is combining classical music and video games in Montreal’s premier concert hall, Maison Symphonique, in February next year. Founded in 2008 by a group of musicians / gamers, the orchestra has built a loyal following for their classical adaptations of video game soundtracks.
As reported in The Star, Jonathan Dagenais, the orchestra’s conductor, credits L’Orchestre de Jeux Video and similar projects for drawing new audiences to classical music and raising attendance at large concert halls.
“The ambience, the atmosphere is not like in a classical concert show. Sometimes it’s more like a rock show because everyone is so hyped in the audience by the music that we’re doing,” Dagenais told The Star.
Montreal is an appropriate home for a gaming orchestra, as it’s a major centre for the video game industry, with 139 companies employing more than 10,000 full-time staff.
While L’Orchestre de Jeux Video is notable because it’s the only dedicated gaming orchestra in the world, elsewhere similar initiatives have combined classical music with contemporary cultures and industries. Launching in 2005 in Los Angeles with the LA Philharmonic, Video Games Live is “an immersive concert event” created by video game composer Tommy Tallarico. The event has toured extensively, working with local symphony orchestras in Australia, England, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, France, Taiwan and China. Australia’s symphony orchestras regularly accompany pop or indie musicians, the Symphony Symphony performed a gaming symphony, Play, in 2007 and earlier this year each Orchestra hosted a screening of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, playing John Williams’ score live.
With gaming culture on the rise, epitomised by the recent Pokemon Go phenomenon, we’re likely to see more of these initiatives bridging the gap between supposed “high” and “low” culture. And it might be time for comeback tour for Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions.