Symphony Of Legends: The Classiest Game Music I Ever Did Hear

Symphony Of Legends: The Classiest Game Music I Ever Did Hear

When Wil Wheaton came on stage, rapturous applause filled the hall. I may have clapped, I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is thinking “That man has kissed Ashley Judd. I must have his lips.”

Wheaton’s lips? I’m sure people have yearned for many, many body parts from former child star, but his lips probably aren’t one (two?) of them. The whole lips situation was made even more uncomfortable by the fact that my partner was sitting next to me. Boy, am I glad she can’t read my mind.

Though she can probably read the internet.

Oh, where was I? A big bloody room called The Plenary, a part of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Wharf. The day was April 12, 2012. A Wednesday, if I recall.

(And I recall poorly. It was Thursday.)

Video Games Unplugged — Symphony of Legends was our reason for being there. We watched, though mostly listened to, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as it played a selection of compositions from games including BioShock, Uncharted, SoulCalibur, Final Fantasy 7, SoulCalibur, Civilization IV and SoulCalibur.

Did I mention there was a lot of SoulCalibur?

We enjoyed music from all the other games before hitting the clefs, quavers and crotchets of the world’s most buxom brawler. The pieces were played with clips of the game in question running on two giant screens and one massive screen.

What the surrounds of The Plenary might look like on a Wednesday Thursday night.

When vision of the game wasn’t available, we got extreme views of the orchestra itself. This was uncomfortable, at least for me. In my off time, yes, I do troll YouTube for videos of close-ups of tuba players looking like they’re constantly passing napalm-like wind and old people exchanging glances of unrequited love, but the dudes handling the video feed might have been better off with showing the logo instead. I’m thinking of the musicians here.

Presenting for the duration were Kris Straub (Blamnations), Scott Kurtz (PvP and Blamnations) and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: TNG, Stand By Me, The Love Boat). Their rehearsed dialogue didn’t misfire as badly as I thought it would. While Wheaton seemed a little disingenuous, people were laughing at the material. The highlight was definitely the Skyrim cartoon featuring diarrhoea dragon shouts.

The orchestra was great, as was the choir. Actually, having the choir there was fantastic. You didn’t really notice them — which was a good thing — but when they did have to make their presence known — during the performances from God of War and Skyrim in particular — their harmonious, driving voices added raw energy, the sort you won’t get from a recording. Neck-hair-standing stuff.

Sadly, from time to time, I could hear a low hum underscoring the music. I’m not sure if this was an instrument, or even intentional, but it was unpleasant when my ears did pick it up. The audio guys directly in front of me (one of which can be seen in the lead image and looks kind of like an interstellar goblin, thanks to my shoddy photo skills) didn’t seem to notice or mind. Maybe I’m just a philistine who can’t appreciate the delicate tones of the Hum Flute, or whatever it was.

Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub and Wil Wheaton do battle with each other and the crappy exposure settings on my camera.

There was a lot of music from the SoulCalibur series (I may have forgotten to mention that), which, for fans, probably bordered on celestial in its orgasm-inducing effect. Personally, it took up way too much of the concert — I’d much rather have heard more tunes from other games.

Part of the SoulCalibur focus was a two-player tournament between Kevin “Woody” Wood and Ben “Viper” Burke. It was totally anti-climactic (though that wasn’t unexpected); Woody, playing Yoshimitsu, absolutely destroyed Viper. I felt sorry for Viper, though I’m happy to partially share the emotion with Woody, who won a trophy of dubious pawning value.

To sum up, in the way articles like this always do, it was a great night out. Considering it was just the single night, everything ran smoothly and other than that darn hum, I didn’t notice anything out of whack.

I’m also convinced at this stage that I was setting next to Save Point’s Paul Verhoeven, who actually interviewed me while I was at Firemint. I should have said hello, but his moustache was scary and intimidating.

Did you attend the concert? Let me know — you could be in one of my photos!


  • Yeah, I was there. Very enjoyable concert (the three hosts were fantastic and hilarious) and it was a StreetPass BONANZA!! Puzzle pieces all over the place!! The only issue I had with it was that the selection of music was almost completely from more modern games, most of which I haven’t played or care about. But that’s okay, I get that they were trying to attract as mainstream a crowd as possible. (Playing a track from Seiken Densetsu 3 certainly made me sit up though)

    THE MSO are as amazing as I have always been led to believe. Brilliant performers. Unlike Logan I actually much preferred seeing close-ups of the orchestra on-screen instead of game footage, which I found to distract from the music itself.

    Hopefully, thanks to the 5,500 people there, there will be more concerts like this in the future. It was a great night.

    • In South Australia, on November 24th, there’s going to be a Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert thing. It’s going to include FFVI’s Maria and Draco opera!

    • I was keen on older games as well (as the only games from their selection I have played is Uncharted and Skyrim) but I still immensely enjoyed the music for the music itself.

  • I was there, i was one of greatest music that ever come into my ears. The best part was the Bioshock score, i was amazing but was slightly ruined by the cry’s of a baby (BTW How the hell takes a baby to MSO!?)
    Overall it was epic!

    • Oh yeah, totally forgot about the baby. I don’t want to sound insensitive, but what the hell were they thinking?

      • The only possible reason I could think they brought the baby with them was because there couldn’t find a sitter. But yeah, it was a bit odd. Loved the Metal Gear bit at the end though, was a very welcome way to finish it off.

  • I didn’t notice the hum from further towards the back. Had never been in the Plenary before and was surprised to see that there was not a terribly bad seat in the house. Well, yeah, except for anyone next to that blasted baby. Fantastic night out, the MSO never fails to impress.

  • I absolutely loved them opening with the Halo theme, and it was amazing to see One Winged Angel performed. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The female Vocal Soloist had a superb voice.

    I just wish i didn’t see the musicians up close, all i could do was nitpick with their form, and i hate that.
    Choir members with their mouths only half open. Half of the string section being absorbed by the sheet music, rather than focusing mostly on the conductor, the first trumpeteer with most of his fingers over the valves rather than resting the finger tips on them, and the tuba player puffing his cheeks.

  • I knew somebody would complain about the amount of Soul Calibur, but I didn’t mind cause I love that series. Of course with the fact that Junichi Nakatsuru made an appearance it makes a lot of sense that his music would get a lot of presence.

    I agree that it would have been good to hear a lot of songs that were never originally orchestrated: I enjoy seeing how old-school tunes can be rearranged and transformed. I was a bit under-whelmed by the Blizzard stuff (fantastic renditions though, especially knowing that Eminence Orchestra is involved with the actual game OST) simply because so much of it just didn’t remind me of ye olde Diablo 2 or original Starcraft, and instead sounded like the generic orchestrations of most modern games. I like themes, stuff with a tune you will hum and with beats that when hit bring a tear to your eye.

  • LOGAN:

    Wil has ALSO been in The Big Bang Theory and The Guild among other more recent things.
    Surely you can search IMDB?

    Also wondering about the article. It’s good (certainly longer than Kotaku US’ “articles”!) but why the blog feel more than a games site feel?

  • They did too much of Soul Calibur (granted because of the special guest, but still). I did like how it was presented though. Another nitpick is the choice of Final Fantasy song… again with One Winged Angel.

    I wish an orchestra someday would play something from Nier. That would be lovely.

  • I missed it but I wonder how it would have compared to the Video Games Live concert that they had around E3 last year?

  • “I am currently crying tears of blood for missing this glorious event” – a former musician and lifelong gamer T_T.

  • What a great night, even my antigaming wife enjoyed it. Definitely too much soul calibur, but probably designed that was because the original compiser was a guest on the night. The hosting dialogue wasnt as bad as it could be! Unfortunately nowi have to take my wife to the orchestra doing LOTR as she got one of the flyers 🙁

    • I’m actually looking forward to the LOTR 🙂

      My wife loved the Secret of Mana songs and I thought One Winged Angel was amazing live! I even managed to get the poster I bought signed at the end.

  • Anyone remember the baby that was crying?! I was sitting right next to him but oddly enough, the baby cried at the right piece of music from Bioshock. Like of all the music to cry too, he chose the right time to do it. He was well-behaved for most of the night which was nice.

    I was glad to have gone and see the MSO perform this show – it’s been too long since the last Eminence concert in Melbourne (I think the last one was Destiny Reunion 2007?). It’s too bad they’re too busy to tour again.

    • I was pretty excited when I saw that on the set list. I was actally sititng next to a few of the guys from that choir during the first half of the night and they were really excited and looked to really be enjoying themselves 😀

  • Oh yeah, I’d actually forgotten about the baby. I think everyone was thinking the same thing. (“Get that thing OUT OF HERE!”) I can’t believe they didn’t up and walk out the second it started crying! Talk about inconsiderate! *cough* Anyway…

  • I’m a SC fan and I thought there was too much SC… but the orchestra played it so brilliantly, I also didn’t really mind.

    Unfortunately, the Plenary’s acoustics aren’t as good as Hamer Hall, the MSO’s usual place. But in general the music was still super impressive, I really enjoyed it. Their female soloist was just INCREDIBLE. I didn’t believe her voice was real when she was singing during the Halo piece, and she was heavenly in Ezio’s Family.

    Overall: not perfect, but still very, very enjoyable. I wish there were more concerts like this!

  • It was a pretty amazing night. Good to see an article covering the event, though its unfortunate there’s not much included here to give an impression of the atmosphere and the response of the crowd (who seemed pretty happy and pumped up); some interviews or quotes wouldn’t have gone astray.

    I took along my non-gaming girlfriend and she enjoyed it, so that’s a big tick in my book.

  • As a performer, it was a huge amount of fun and an amazing experience despite the outrageous disorganisation that was going on behind the scenes for the few days beforehand. It all came together though and was as much fun to perform as it appears it was for the audience.

    Soloist – She’s the actual voice in the actual recordings of a number of the games we performed. An amazing voice and such a privilege to have her in person to perform them live.

    “that darn hum” – was feedback and unintentional … and not very comfortable when you’re practically sitting on part of the speaker stack. Sound engineers did a great job otherwise.

  • Yeah, it was a good night and I got a bit of a kick out of the corny hosting material from Kurtz, Straub and Wheaton. There WAS too much Soul Calibur (and, tbh, I don’t think the SC material was that well chosen, I used to be a big SC player and hardly recognised any of it) and from my point of view it was a bit partial to big PC and Xbox gaming hits of the past few years and not enough classics (and, as someone who’s been to many game music concerts: One Winged Angel again?). But because the music is good and was well performed, I still enjoyed it all.

    The two pieces from Uncharted were probably my favourite of the songs I know, and Ezio’s Family the best from the games I haven’t played.

  • Oh, yeah- can anyone tell me what the final piece of the night was, the encore? They didn’t announce it and I didn’t recognise it!

    • It’s a medley of Metal Gear Solid themes from 1-3. I can’t remember if anything from MGS 4 was included or not 😮

      • Oh cool! I actually guessed that on the night. I’ve never played any of the MGS games (despite owning a PSone, PS2 and PS3) but Metal Gear was my guess just because it was probably the biggest Western series of the last 10 years which didn’t otherwise appear, and the music sounded kinda like I’d expect Metal Gear to sound. I didn’t expect my guess to be right though!

  • For an event called Symphony of LEGENDS, the amount of new, high budget franchises that have had little time to truly establish themselves in the collective conscious of gamers was waaay too high. At some times it made me think that rather than a concert , I was being spectator to a really cunning marketing strategy: “Hey, isn’t this music great? And you too will be able to hear it a lot once Diablo 3 comes out and you can purchase it!” “Do you like Soul Calibur? Well, lucky you! Here’s some music from the very last installment which you can buy now!” etc., etc.

    Don’t misunderstand me, the production was great and the voices were indeed the best part. But if you are going to make a concert of “legendary video game music” you really need to have something from Mario, from Zelda, from Sonic and many others. Sure, FFVII might be super popular, but how is any song from it -even one-winged angel- more legendary than Celes’ Aria? And so on.

  • Agreed. I have heard One-Winged-Angel played (counting on fingers…) at least 4 times at orchestral concerts now. It’s gone from being super-awesome to just eye-rolling. There are SO many more amazing Final Fantasy tunes they could have played! Distant Worlds from FFXI would have been AMAZING.

    Hopefully in future concerts there’ll be more emphasis placed on the classics as opposed to the more modern (and let’s be honest – less tuneful) soundtracks.

  • what the hell is a “Blamnation”?

    Unless you meant “Blamimations”. Either way, I’m sorry I missed it due to unforeseen circumstances.

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