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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.

Why Video Game Music?

Luigi's Mansion Main Theme - WMGSO's Fall 2021 Concert
04:15
Luigi's Mansion Main Theme - WMGSO's Fall 2021 Concert
Luigi’s Mansion Main Theme - Luigi’s Mansion (2001) Shinobu Tanaka & Kazumi Totaka Arr. Lee Stearns Luigi has won a mansion in a contest that he ... did not enter. He excitedly calls Mario to celebrate, but when he arrives at the mansion, his brother has vanished, and the place is filled with ghosts. With the help of paranormal professor E. Gadd, a ghost-sucking vacuum cleaner, and his trusty flashlight, Luigi must steady his nerves, explore the mansion, and, for once, rescue his brother. The music of Luigi’s Mansion captures the creepy and playful aspects of the game, embracing dissonance and a minor key along with some unusual instrumentation. In the game, Luigi’s voice carries the primary melody as he nervously hums with the spooky bass and synthesizer music while exploring the mansion. This orchestrated version expands on this base, including several variations on the melody as Luigi explores the mansion, steadily building momentum and volume until the climactic battle with King Boo—before eerily fading away at the end. ... don’t look behind you. Video Editor: David Werner Audio Recording and Editing: Josh Haas, Jimyo Lin A special thank you to the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center for recording the concert video
Steam Gardens - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
03:30
Steam Gardens - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
Steam Gardens - Super Mario: Odyssey (2017) Koji Kondo Arr. Jamin Morden “Steam Gardens” is the background track for exploration of the Wooded Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. After a small fanfare and flourish at the beginning, the tune takes a turn down a chill rock n’ roll street and stays there for the rest of its runtime. The guitars and drums in the original maintain an energetic spirit through the drumset work as well as “chillness” through the laid-back melody. This arrangement features the string section of the Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra. Each instrument takes its turn alternating between melodic feature, accompaniment groove, and decorative counter melodies. While initial statements of the melody are orchestrated in a relatively straightforward manner, later iterations experiment with different grooves, toss the melody to lower instruments, and even split the jazz organ solo of the original between the cello and basses. Each section gets a final say before the piece settles down for good. Video Director: Ben Archie Camera Operator: Jarel Jones Video Editor: David Werner Audio Recording and Editing: Will Bonnett, Josh Haas, Jimyo Lin
Nostalgia Red & Blue
09:40
Nostalgia Red & Blue
Nostalgia Red & Blue - Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue (1996) Junichi Masuda Arr. Jacob Coppage-Gross Since its inception in the mid 90s, the Pokémon franchise has entertained millions of fans across the globe. The iconic roleplaying series began with the original Red and Blue versions, perhaps two of the most recognizable games ever made. On top of their genre-defining gameplay and engaging story, the games offer a delightful suite of musical themes to accompany the adventurer on their quest. This arrangement takes many of the classic themes from Red and Blue and expands them into a full-fledged orchestral medley, with unique musical settings of favorites such as “Pokémon Center Theme” and “Bicycle Theme.” A variety of orchestral textures make their appearance, from instruments bouncing the melody around like a beach ball to a breathtakingly clean, glimmering woodwind trio, to all-hands-on-deck. Mysterious, whimsical, playful, or, indeed, nostalgic in turns, both in its instrumentation and form, this arrangement is a trip down memory lane for long-time fans of the series—or a brand new world for those hearing these themes for the first time. Video Director: Ben Archie Camera Operator: Jarel Jones Video Editor: David Werner Audio Recording and Editing: Josh Haas, Jimyo Lin
Lament of Orpheus - WMGSO's 2022 Small Ensemble Showcase
04:37
Lament of Orpheus - WMGSO's 2022 Small Ensemble Showcase
Lament of Orpheus - Hades, 2018 Composer: Darren Korb Arranger: Robb Saffell “Lament of Orpheus”, from Hades, composed and originally performed by Darren Korb, does not have a false advert for a title. The song, an art song in its own right, is recounting the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. After Eurydice’s death, Orpheus descends into the Underworld to plead for her return, and thanks partly to his beautiful voice and the strength of his feelings, his request is granted, on one condition: On their way back to the surface, he must not turn around to look at her, until they had both left the Underworld. But on the way, his doubt gets the better of him, as the song lamens---and he loses Eurydice forever. Video Director: David Werner Camera Operators & Stream Technicians: Jarel Jones, Vee Kirtz Audio Engineer: Cory Lemons Graphic Designer: Brana Rose
Suave Star - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
05:54
Suave Star - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
Suave Star - Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (2000) Jun Ishikawa Arr. Thomas Ashcom Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the newest release in the Kirby series, shares many of its gameplay aspects with Kirby 64, likely contributing to the game’s success. The same composer worked on both titles as well. Kirby is quite literally a pink ball with stubby arms and feet, known for his power to inhale enemies and copy their fighting capabilities. Although Kirby’s power sounds sinister, the Kirby franchise is one of the most colorful and light-hearted out of all major Nintendo console titles. This cheeriness is especially present in Kirby 64, the first 3D entry in the series. The game soundtrack is filled with extremely fast musical phrases and sudden tonal shifts that simultaneously contrast and complement each other. The music in this arrangement is split between four themes, with the last section a jaunty interpretation of the notable “Gourmet Race.” The text for the choir is from poetry by the ancient Roman philosopher Lucretius, who wrote that witnessing another’s misfortune from afar is beneficial, so as to appreciate that you yourself are not going through the same. Perhaps think about how you’re not being gobbled up by Kirby right now... Video Director: Ben Archie Camera Operator: Jarel Jones Video Editor: David Werner Audio Recording and Editing: Will Bonnett, Josh Haas, Jimyo Lin
City Ruins - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
06:16
City Ruins - WMGSO's Spring 2022 Concert
City Ruins - NieR: Automata (2017) Keiichi Okabe Arr. Nico Benner NieR: Automata’s soundtrack is known for its minimalistic beauty and features sparse instrumentation and high solo vocals. Lead composer Keiichi Okabe was given immense creative freedom during development, to the point where elements of both NieR games were sometimes changed to fit the music, rather than the other way around. All of the lyrics are in the series’ fictional Chaos Language, which uses words and sounds from various world languages to imagine what an amalgamated universal language could sound like 10,000 years in the future. “City Ruins” is the main overworld theme that plays during exploration of the post-apocalyptic world of Automata. The titular area is populated by the husks of once-towering skyscrapers, overgrown vegetation, and relics from humanity’s past. Even as the dramatic twists and turns of Automata’s story unfold, “City Ruins” grounds the player in the game’s unique and haunting atmosphere. This arrangement features a lush string backdrop and lilting woodwind passages, culminating with triumphant brass fanfares and dramatic unison vocals sung in Chaos Language. Video Director: Ben Archie Camera Operator: Jarel Jones Video Editor: David Werner Audio Recording and Editing: Will Bonnett, Josh Haas, Jimyo Lin
Snowdin - WMGSO's Fall 2021 Concert
04:23
Snowdin - WMGSO's Fall 2021 Concert
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