The chorus of self-conscious laughter following the conductor’s inquiry about the proportion of gamers in the crowd illustrated the alternative nature of the evening’s demographic. A group, which had almost filled the hallowed concert hall at the Sydney Opera House. They were here in droves (some dressed as their favourite digital protagonists) to watch the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform rePLAY: Symphony of Heroes – an audio/visual spectacle showcasing orchestral interpretations of musical scores from many of the most popular gaming franchises of the last decade.
It was a simple enough concept. During each of the 17 movements the orchestra would play theme music from each of the games, whilst animations, art and in-game footage was projected onto a screen accompanied with a bit of smoke and some mood lighting. While it should be noted the orchestra’s performance (lead by American conductor Miriam Burns) was incredible, energetic and essentially perfect – my enjoyment of each piece relied heavily on the quality of the visual element and how well I thought the music and imagery complimented each other.
I’m sure armed with a blinding bias developed through years of dedicated gaming the weaker elements of the concept would be easier to glaze over. However, it’s hard to describe the flimsy heroic voiceover between songs that attempted to thread the pieces of music together into a cohesive narrative as anything but prosaic, clichéd and juvenile.
It may be against the spirit of the show, but the result of two limitless art forms meeting at the confluence of unrestricted imagination is not always superior to one or the other shining by itself. Witnessing the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is a privilege. A privilege that at times I wanted to enjoy without the distraction of watching Zelda run around trying to catch a chicken.