Video game music comes alive in high-octane concert

According to Irish conductor Eimear Noone, more people are engaging with orchestral music today than ever before.

This phenomenon, she suggested, was down to the millions around the world who play video games with their in-built soundtracks of orchestral music.

Having explained what the concert was all about, she launched into a programme interspersing music from popular video games with the bits of classics that had inspired them.

And she should know a thing or two about it - Noone is one of the leading arrangers and composers in the video game-music industry.

It soon became glaringly obvious what really inspires video game-music composers. There was barely a major chord and the music included more high-octane chase and battle sequences than could possibly be good for the heart.

In the context of a live concert, it also quickly became obvious that video game composers like great big symphony orchestras.



    Victoria Songwei Li (soprano), Jade Tan (mezzo-soprano), Singapore Symphony Youth Choir & Friends, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Eimear Noone (conductor)

    Esplanade Concert Hall/Last Friday

Even charming, light little numbers like Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros used more instruments a second than most big symphonies do in an hour.

Add to that Noone's fussy conducting style and her expansively waving arms, and the concertseemed in danger of clogging its arterial flow with its own weight.

Luckily, the Singapore Symphony Youth Choir & Friends were on hand to add lightness and shine. It had a lot to do and it did it all with amazing precision, clarity and a highly polished tone. Wong Lai Foon has created a truly exceptional chorus here.

Barely outshining the chorus, the two Singaporean soloists needed quite heavy amplification to get themselves heard above the massed musical forces arrayed behind them. Jade Tan oozed seductiveness in Noone's own score to World Of Warcraft: Warlords Of Draenor, while Victoria Songwei Li, appropriately attired in Soviet Scarlet, gave a fabulously characterful delivery of the traditional Russian song which goes with Nintendo game, Tetris.

Fully aware of the impact she had made, Li understandably savoured every last drop of applause. Perhaps next time, the Esplanade stage crew might devise a system of ropes and pulleys to get her off stage quickly enough to keep a very long concert flowing.

The real heroes of the evening, however, were not on stage at all.

With 17 pieces of music (including an encore) to be edited, cut, pasted and assembled into books for every member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on stage, the uninterrupted flow of the programme was all due to the tireless dedication of the SSO librarians.

More people may be engaging with orchestral music today, but in today's concert, the orchestra was engaging with more bits of music than it has done in a single sitting for a very long time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2019, with the headline 'Video game music comes alive in high-octane concert'. Print Edition | Subscribe