Video Games Live enraptured audience members of all ages on Nov. 16 with performances of soundtracks ranging from classics like “The Legend of Zelda” to modern favorites like “Overwatch.”
The show, held at the Broome County Forum Theatre, was created by video game music composer Tommy Tallarico and composer Emmanuel Fratianni, who orchestrated both the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra and Binghamton University’s own Harpur Chorale, a student-based choir group. The two groups worked together to produce each song throughout the show.
Tallarico, who has been in the video game music industry for almost 30 years and holds two Guinness World Records for the most video game concerts performed and the largest audience for a live video game music concert, led the performance with his speeches and energy. He was not afraid to breathe his personality into the show as he included some personal pieces, such as the soundtrack for “Earthworm Jim,” his favorite soundtrack to compose. Tallarico’s performances were based around the sounds of guitars, as he switched between electric and acoustic.
Brittany Hall, executive director of the Binghamton Philharmonic, said the show tries to engage with the audience members in a more personal tone than what is usually expected of orchestras.
“We want to deliver an interactive experience every time we put on a show, so we try and create a connection between the audience and the orchestra that breaks down some of the barriers that people might assume at an orchestra — that you have to dress up and only clap at certain times,” Hall said. “So when we can break those barriers so that we can create an interactive experience, we do.”
The performance covered an array of hallmark titles of the video game industry, from “Super Mario Bros.” to independent games such as the 2006 Japanese hit “Okami.” Harpur Chorale delivered an epic, intense enactment of the iconic chants of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
Each song was accompanied by gameplay footage from the game, providing audience members who might not be aware of some games with context, as well as a visual aid to the music. In between songs, Tallarico included humorous skits that interjected laughter into the performance. One skit highlighted the 10 worst voice acting productions in video games, which were full of sexual innuendos, appealing to the older members’ humor.
Tallarico amped the audience’s excitement for the finale by teasing the end of the show, only to break out two last songs. One was “Chrono Trigger,” a 1995 classic developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES). The true finale of the show commenced with a guest appearance by Jason Paige, the singer behind the original “Pokémon” theme song for the television adaptation of the series.
Paige electrified the theater with his performance of the song, especially since “Pokémon” is a series that has captivated gamers for the past 20 years.
“I’m a huge fan of ‘Kingdom Hearts ‘and of Square Enix in general, and my wife is a big fan of ‘Pokémon,’ so that special encore was great for her,” said Jeremy Dearing, a community member. “The fact that they covered all those games and were able to cover games that both me and my wife love was really great.”
Paige said that his favorite part of the show was signing autographs afterward and hearing the stories of fans who were moved by his performances.
“My favorite part is finding out how moved they are by something that didn’t have that intention and hearing their confession and lives and stories,” Paige said. “I don’t think there’s anything like this that exists, and the only way I could know that is from the personal interactions with people. It’s incredible.”