The Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra (WMGSO) is a nonprofit community orchestra whose mission is to share video game music by putting on affordable, accessible concerts in the D.C. area and via our Twitch channel. Our orchestra and choir perform video game music spanning musical genres across decades of video games. WMGSO has recorded two albums—with more recordings in the works!—and releases new music videos on YouTube.
Game music weaves a tapestry of the traditions, values and mythos of video game culture. In it we find deep emotion and truths, as well as new ways of expressing ourselves that transcend the medium of games.
Though the culture is changing, video game soundtracks largely escape recognition in professional musical circles. WMGSO is dedicated to showcasing this art form and highlighting the virtuosity of its composers.
Former WMGSO Board Member Chris Apple shares his answer to one of our most frequently asked questions: Why video game music?
Why do we still tell the stories of “Beowulf,” “Odysseus” and “Hamlet?” Why do we still listen to Beethoven? There is something about them that makes us want to share; we find meaning in them. Meaning in art changes lives, and when you find that kind of meaning you know that others will benefit from it, too.
It’s not the plot or the art or even the music itself that inspires us to share. In these games we find basic truths about life itself. We find ourselves, and new ways of thinking about and expressing ourselves. We find the same meaning that is found in other music, in novels, movies, and other literature, meaning that transcends the medium itself and stays with a person for life. Games are not just children’s toys, they often deal with serious adult ideas, like love, war, politics, religion, parenthood, and poverty. It has changed our lives and brought us happiness, and we know that our audience can find and cherish those truths as well. That makes those truths bigger than us, and compels us to present them to you.
Many of our audience are gamers, and many are not. You may not know the fantastic worlds, characters and stories that unfold in each of these video games. You may not know the gravity of saying that the last Metroid is in captivity, what it means to seek the Promised Land, or the humbling experience of becoming the Hero of Light. But you will know, because those ideas enshrine those basic truths which we will share through our music and our passion for it. Music is a language that bypasses words. It communicates in feelings, motion, color, and light. There is a truth in music itself which can express an idea far better than any statement. By listening to their music, you need not know anything about the games to know how it feels to have experienced them.
So why are we on this stage? Because our minds and our hearts leave us no other choice. This music, these games, this experience is bigger than us, and we want them to be shared as widely as possible, and succeed us when we are gone.