Super Mario Symphony

"People have been waiting 20 years for a show like this," says Tommy Tallarico, co-creator of Video Games Live. Given the 11,000-person audience at the show's Los Angeles debut and its frequent sold-out status on its first tour, he could be right.

Video Games Live travels to cities across the country, hooking up with orchestras to perform music from such games as Halo, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy. They also add symphonic vigor to the blips and beeps of pre-CD-ROM games such as Super Mario Brothers and Tetris.

Sometimes the musicians are surprised by the reaction they get. "I love to see the oboe player's face when they begin Sonic the Hedgehog," Tallarico says. "The crowd goes nuts; they don't get that reaction playing Stravinsky."

Tallarico, who scored such games as Earthworm Jim and Advent Rising, collaborated with Jack Wall of Myst and Splinter Cell fame on the multimedia event, which also includes a light show, video presentation and, like any video game event should have, an interactive segment. Audience members are chosen to come onstage and given a joystick as the symphony accompanies their game of Frogger or Space Invader.

Tallarico is particularly excited about today's show with the Houston Symphony. With 132 musicians and 72 vocalists, it's the biggest ensemble he's worked with. "This is a record," Tallarico says. "It's the biggest performance of video game music in history."
Fri., July 14, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., July 13, 7:30 p.m.


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