RTE National Symphony Orchestra Video Games Classic at National Concert Hall, 2nd December 2016
Eimear Noone’s first collaboration with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra presents a unique programme, situating a variety of video game scores with the historic works that inspired them. It draws music and gaming enthusiasts of all ages into a sonic adventure that traverses Mozart’s Vienna, 19th-Century France, pre-war England, Azeroth and Hyrule with many fantastic stops along the way. With the NCH practically bursting at the seams, it is a delight to see large numbers of children glued to their seats, in what may be, for some, their first experience of live orchestral music.
Noone presents the concert with verve, and proves an eloquent speaker as she urges the audience to abandon notions of concert hall etiquette, encouraging applause, cheering, and any conceivable expression of appreciation. Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man opens the concert, and introduces the theme of the evening—other than video games, of course—the inclusivity and universality of music. It sets the tone for works performed later in the programme, with active participation of brass and percussion forming a staple element of the video games repertoire. The next piece sees the NSO join forces with the Mornington Singers and New Dublin Voices to venture into Jason Hayes’ suitably epic music for World of Warcraft. Noone’s conducting style is highly evocative and thoroughly fitting to the spirit of the work, summoning timpani rolls and swatches of tremolo violins in a style that any wizard would be proud of.
The festively decorated auditorium provides the perfect backdrop to a concert, while traditional orchestral attire is forgone in favour of masks, hats, and tetris tiles. Even Debussy’s Claire de Lune, is given a new lease of life in its performance by—among others—Ash Ketchum, Link, and an army of Angry Birds.
The second half of the concert yields a multitude of delights: from the cinematic theme of Kingdom Hearts, to Tallericos’ tragedy Libretto from Dante’s Inferno, Sarah Shine’s charming performance in Tetris Opera.
Hard though it is to choose highlights from such a programme, Noone’s own Malach, Angel Messenger from World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is thoroughly deserving of mention. The richly ornamented solo line, sung by Sibéal Ní Chasaide adds an almost dream-like quality to the work, in stark contrast with the battle-ready bass drums and chromatic movement in the trombones.
Noone chooses to “end [the programme] on the profane” with a rousing rendition Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’, and a heartfelt reminder that ‘music belongs to each of us’. Her encore—a rare choice for an orchestra—is Koji Kondo’s Music from the Legend of Zelda, a distinctly lyrical counterpoint to earlier works. Juxtaposing elements of fanfare with flute and oboe counter-themes, with the ensemble bathed in green light, it is an exuberant finale, received with resounding applause.
Aaron Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man
Jason Hayes – World of Warcraft Score and Theme
Gustav Holst – ‘Mars, The Bringer of War’ form The Planets
Kota Suzuki – Winds of Madness (featured in Resident Evil 5)
Claude Debussy arr. Leopold Stokowski – Claire de Lune (featured in The Evil Within)
W.A. Mozart – ‘Confutatis Maledictis’ from Requiem
Jeremy Soule – Music from Skyrim
Igor Stravinsky – Berceuse and Finale from The Firebird
Modest Mussorgsky – Night on a Bald Mountain
Yoko Shimomura – Kingdom Hearts
Ludvig Van Beethoven – ‘The Storm’ from Symphony No. 6
Tommy Tallerico – Libretto from Dante’s Inferno (featured in Advent Rising)
Eimear Noone – Malach, Angel Messenger (featured in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor)
Nobuo Uematsu – Liberi Fatali (featured in Final Fantasy 8)
Greg Cox – Tetris Opera
Carl Orff – ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana
Encore: Koji Kondo – Music from The Legend of Zelda