Gamers, put down the controller and get over to the Houston Symphony for Video Games Live on July 14 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Bank of America Summer Series at Jones Hall. Show creator Tommy Tallarico will host and play guitar alongside conductor Emmanuel Fratianni and the Houston Symphony Chorus for this immersive experience.
Escape to the land of fantasy and imagination as your favorite video games are brought to life in a one-of-a-kind multimedia concert experience with live music, solo performers and exclusive video footage on three giant screens with synchronized lighting and live action. You'll see great games like never before: from Final Fantasy to Zelda, Skyrim, Donkey Kong Country, Warcraft, Shadow of the Colossus, Pokémon, Mario and many more.
Tallarico says the concert blends many different elements to create a stunning experience. “We have all the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra but combined with the energy of a rock concert, interactive visuals, technology and the fun video games provide. It’s not just a tuxedo onstage. It’s synchronized to a stage show production, interactive elements, and rock and roll lighting.”
A career in entertainment seemed almost fated for Tallarico. The music gene runs in his family. His cousin is Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. He’s been involved in the video game industry since the age of 21, when he left his home of Springfield, Massachusetts, and moved to Southern California.
Since then, his career has exploded. He has worked on more than 300 video games, and he helped transition the beeps-and-bloops sound effects of older games like Tetris and Pong to the fully orchestrated games today’s millennials are accustomed to playing.
That transition of the old music to the video game music of today sums up the point of this concert.
“As a composer, I wanted to prove to the world how culturally significant video games have become. And my other goal was to usher in a new generation of young people to appreciate the arts and symphony,” he said.
Looking at the numbers, he has succeeded in this quest. His first concert drew 11,000 people to the Hollywood Bowl. Guinness World Records recognized him three times for his achievements in gaming. In 2012, during the Game Developers Conference, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award and is also in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. for his contributions to the game industry.
Another measure of success for Tallarico’s show is captured in the phrase “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” He says three copycat shows have emerged since Video Games Live launched. They focus around the Pokémon, Final Fantasy and Zelda soundtracks. Nothing says “You’ve made it!” quite like seeing someone else imitate your product.
Nowadays, Tallarico says he sees lines of young people spilling out into the streets as they try to buy tickets to see the symphony show – a feat not quite duplicated by the fare of standard symphony programming of deceased composers.
The Houston Symphony, though, is not your average performing arts organization. It was one of the first to reach out to Tallarico when he debuted Video Games Live, and it is known for bringing other exciting, modern programming, like The Music of Prince, which plays the day after Video Games Live. The group also recently concluded a season of speaking engagements in partnership with National Geographic.
“It was the Houston Symphony that really took a chance on this thing, and that was indicative of what they do. They’re always ahead of the curve. They’re always cutting-edge,” said Tallarico.
A career in the video game and music industry has served him well. Video Games Live has run for more than a decade and has been performed on five continents. The Houston performance will mark show number 412.
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He also mentions that each show has its own style and flavor. He polls locals to see what songs they want to hear incorporated into the show, so no two song sets are ever exactly the same.
Just to add to the fun, there will also be a costume contest before the show in which the audience votes on the winners. There is also a VIP experience for the most dedicated fans.
With the previous success of this show, trust us when we say you’ll want to buy your tickets now. There’s a good chance this one will sell out.
Video Games Live plays Friday, July 14, at the Houston Symphony, 615 Louisiana. Tickets range from $23 to $95 and can be purchased at houstonsymphony.org or by calling 713-224-7575.