The conductor raises her baton, signalling to the musicians seated in front of her to ready their instruments. With a flick of the conductor’s wrist, the symphony and choir begin to play an upbeat and lively song from the popular video game Tetris. With bright lights illuminating the stage, images of colourful geometric shapes are projected onto three screens behind the orchestra to amplify the performance.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday people flocked to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium at the Dalhousie Arts Centre to witness Video Games Live.
Performed by Symphony Nova Scotia, Video Games Live showcases segments of songs from popular video games such as Kingdom Hearts, Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid.
Colourful lighting, special effects and interactive elements, such as a Guitar Hero competition, are also incorporated into the shows.
Alongside vocalist, Jillian Aversa, and conductor, Eimear Noone, Symphony Nova Scotia performs “Tetris Opera” from Video Games Live. (Video by Jessica Hirtle)
“I kind of like to describe it as having all the power and emotion of an orchestra combined with the energy of a rock concert,” said Tommy Tallarico, co-creator, executive producer and host of Video Games Live.
Sold out for almost every show, Heidi MacPhee, director of communications and marketing at Symphony Nova Scotia, said Video Games Live has received rave reviews from spectators.
“It’s been amazing. People love it. They are just so happy,” said MacPhee.
MacPhee said that Symphony Nova Scotia has wanted to collaborate with Video Games Live for years. This is the first time Video Games Live has performed in Nova Scotia.
“We get requests for it all the time,” said MacPhee. “They’ve performed all over the world and it’s just really exciting to have this calibre of show here in Halifax.”
Tallarico and Jack Wall created Video Games Live more than 13 years ago. Touring since 2005, the concert series has performed around the globe in over 35 countries, including China, Brazil, Mexico, France and Portugal.
A video game composer, Tallarico has contributed to approximately 300 video games in his career. He said he created Video Games Live to demonstrate the artistry of video games, while promoting the arts among young people.
Not only can video game lovers appreciate the show, but Tallarico said non-gamers equally benefit from watching Video Games Live.
“When parents come and bring their kids or grandparents bring their grandkids, they are the ones that are most blown away,” said Tallarico. “They are like, ‘I never knew video games were this incredible. I never knew the music was so powerful and emotional.’”