Video Game Orchestra Highly Anticipated For March 5th Concert At Berklee Performance Center

Donkey Kong will swing (Duke Ellington-style) and the music of retro Nintendo titles and PlayStation mega-hits alike will come alive when the Video Game Orchestra (VGO) hits the stage, March 5th, at Berklee. The 90-member VGO comprises a 45-piece orchestra, 40-piece choir, and 5-piece rock band, with players from over 20 countries who are students at Berklee, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, and New England Conservatory.

Prominent game industry composers have arranged music for the show and will be in the audience, including Gerard Marino (God of War), Keith Zizza (Caesar), and Duncan Watt (Brothers in Arms). Jack Wall, Mass Effect composer and co-creator of the Video Games Live tour, will guest conduct the VGO for one of his pieces.

The concert is $10 and all ages and takes place on March 5th (8:15 p.m.), at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Please call 617-747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information.


Shota Nakama:

Berklee alumnus Shota Nakama ’08 created the VGO in April, 2008. Initially, he struggled to get the VGO off the ground, but the group evolved quickly after he found two partners – alumnus Simon Lee, VGO marketing manager, and student Kian How, VGO production assistant – and got the backing of the college.

Their most recent show, held in a Boston church, drew over 600. The ensemble provides a valuable learning experience to its members, who not only perform the material, but also arrange and produce it. They have 20 songs in their repertoire, including music from such titles as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Chrono Trigger, and Silent Hill.

A native of Okinawa, Japan, Nakama grew up a game-obsessed youth who would use his phone to re-write the music to Final Fantasy and other games. After getting his first degree in math, he enrolled at Berklee to study film scoring, but switched his focus when others said his music was better suited for games. Nakama was also the first vice president of Berklee’s Video Game Music Club, which sent an ensemble to perform at last year’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.


Influence Of Video Games:

Berklee has been quick to recognize the career opportunities the video game industry presents to its students and alumni. Last year, the college offered a Music for Video Games weekend summer program, and held a panel discussion with established game music composers.

Many alumni have found success in the industry, including Olivier Derivière (Alone in the Dark); Norihiko Hibino (Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders) Chuck Doud, music director, Sony; Dan Lehrich, creative lead, 7 Studios; David Collins, audio lead, Lucas Arts; C. Paul Johnson, sound designer, Microsoft; Christian Kjeldsen, sound designer, Rockstar Games; Michael Sweet, founding partner, Audiobrain, and Berklee faculty member; and others.

Despite the economic downturn, global sales for video games reached $32 billion in 2008 (eclipsing DVD and Blu-Ray) and budgets continue to skyrocket. Composers receive as much as $2,000 for each minute of music they write, with a typical game requiring 60 to 90 minutes of music. It is a golden age that is drawing comparisons to film music when it was in its heyday. Video game music must drive both the players’ actions and the action of playing the game, a different challenge than writing for film and TV, where music plays a more supportive role.

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For more information, visit: http://www.vgo-online.org/live.
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