From consoles to concert halls

With sold-out shows around the world and reputable musicians singing from its hymn sheet, videogame music has made the leap off the screen

Michael Giacchino with the Oscar he won for Up. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Giacchino with the Oscar he won for Up. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images


On May 23rd, audiences will take their seats in London’s Hammersmith Apollo to listen to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The first hint that this won’t be a Tchaikovsky recital will be in the attire of the audience. “Cosplay” or fancy dress is encouraged, so plenty of the attendees will be dressed as characters from the Zelda game series.

For as long as there have been videogames, its music has been dismissed and mocked by gamers and non-gamers alike. For many, it’s considered low-fi background music to an art-form that, at the best of times, struggles for respectability. But in recent years, things have changed.

For a start, some of the current crop of top film composers cut their teeth in games – Michael Giacchino, for example, got his big break composing for the Medal of Honor titles, which were produced by Steven Spielberg.

This work has led to a glittering career for Giacchino, including an Oscar for his score on Pixar’s Up as well as working on the Star Trek reboot, The Incredibles , and television series Lost .

Another Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer – who is best-known for his work on Inception , The Dark Knight and Gladiator – has gone the other way. He has lent his talents to several games, including the world-conquering Call of Duty franchise.

The popularity of videogame concerts, in which live music is sometimes accompanied by video footage of the games, is a testament to nostalgia and genuine musical craftsmanship.

This brings us back to the London Hammersmith. This is the second such Zelda -themed concert in the city, after a successful gig in 2011, and the show, in its current form, has recently toured north America.

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