Boston Band Crush Archived Article: Bloop-Bleep Crush: The Video Game Orchestra

This article originally appears on Boston Band Crush ). Just about everyone in my age group can sing the theme song to Super Mario Bros. upon request. In fact, this particular ditty is so deeply embedded into our social consciousness that people spend hours, days, months making crazy renditions of the tune using everything from flutes and beatboxing to remote control cars with mallets attached to them driving by bottles filled to generate the correct tones when struck. The point is, video game music means a lot to us, even casual gamers.

So, it’s not terribly surprising that The Video Game Orchestra has been willed into existence. The 90-member VGO comprises a 45-piece orchestra, 40-piece choir, and 5-piece rock band, with players from more than 20 countries. The group consists of current students at Berklee, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, and New England Conservatory.

No doubt, it’s also a popular venture, as the group’s most recent show, held in a Boston church, drew a crowd of more than 600 people. Now is your chance to catch them, the VGO is performing tomorrow at 8 PM at Berklee.

The Video Game Orchestra
3/5/09 – 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Mass. Ave., Boston
$10, All Ages

The rumors on my radar indicate that they’ll be playing a diverse set spanning the bleepy 8-bitters to the lush 64-bit arrangements* including songs from games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Chrono Trigger, and Silent Hill.

Prominent game industry composers have arranged music for the show and will be in the audience, including Gerard Marino (God of War), Keith Zizza (Caesar), and Duncan Watt (Brothers in Arms). Jack Wall, Mass Effect composer and co-creator of the Video Games Live tour, will guest conduct the VGO for one of his pieces.

Trivial tidbit – Did you know that Mario got his start as a plumbing protagonist in the video game Donkey Kong (1981), battling the giant ape to rescue his dear Pauline (before he was sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom and began chasing after the Princess). Mario’s younger, greener brother Luigi made his debut in 1983’s Mario Bros. (note that the word Super is not in the title). Mario and Luigi worked together to rid the sewers of New York City of pesky turtles and lobsters by flipping them on their backs and kicking them away.

*Note for nerds: not implying that the processor bit width actually has all that much to do with the music necessarily.