The creators behind Play! A Video Game Symphony are constructing a new concert that will not only let more people outside the gaming world get a dose of game music, but give these types of shows a new spin.
Enter rePLAY, a spiritual successor to Play! that’s being spearheaded by Jason Michael Productions, the same company that’s responsible for the creation of concerts like The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, Dear Friends and More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy.
The show’s producer Jason Michael Paul recently took some time to chat with us about the show, what his hopes are for it and what makes it different this time around.
Don’t expect a simple retread of what Play! brought to the table with its straightforward set of live orchestral game music performances, though.
During our conversation with Paul, he said that rePLAY is set to incorporate something different from its predecessor: a storyline. He explained the show’s story arc utilizes Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, or the “hero’s journey,” as an underlying theme.
“The moods [of the story] will be set to the music of these various games. [As with The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses,] we’re staying true to the format, with the visuals, and of course the orchestra and the choir,” Paul said.
In essence, rePLAY will continue Symphony of the Goddesses’ visual style, incorporating synchronized video with picture-in-picture shots from the games being represented, while featuring what Paul describes as a full catalog of music, including arrangements from Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Fable, World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Bioshock, Metroid and Super Mario Bros. Interspersed between the music will be a narration of rePLAY’s story conducted by Nigel Carrington, who some may know for his narrating duties in first-person art title Dear Esther.
Those familiar with Play! may know that since its beginnings in 2006, it’s come to incorporate a lot of games that can be considered niche, like Stella Deus and Ys. Paul promised that representation of lesser-known material will still be a part of rePLAY, citing Okami as one of the new game soundtracks that will make an appearance in this new line of concerts.
In the past, Play! was known to have featured performances and appearances by game composers themselves, such as Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka. Paul is hoping to continue that with rePLAY.
“When it’s possible, of course. We love to have guest performances by composers,” Paul said. “Not all composers are musicians like Akira Yamaoka, but when the opportunity arises where we can involve them in some capacity, whether it’s a pianist or a guitarist like in the case of Akira, we’ll definitely do that.”
Paul states that his production company works very closely with a lot of game composers, many of whom are actual friends of various staff.
“A lot of composers are excited with what we’re doing for this show,” continued Paul. “It’s not really a ‘Greatest Hits’ like what I’ve done in the past or what Video Games Live has done, this is more of a story, and how we incorporate it. We’re doing it in modules, so we can change the story and change the music overtime or from show-to-show.”
On how the company decides on which pieces of videogame music to represent, Paul explained that it ultimately comes down to procuring the rights.
“We try to incorporate a lot of different things when making decisions on music. A lot of it ultimately falls on the hands of who’s giving us the permission to perform this music, so that’s always the first course and then we take it from there. Most of the publishers are very favorable [of giving permission].”
rePLAY is set to premiere with the Omaha Symphony this October in Omaha, Nebraska, with Play! conductor Andy Brick reprising his role. Tickets will be on sale in the near future, so be sure to keep checking the rePlay! website for more details.