U-Md. Video Game Orchestra To Treat Media With Concert ‘Sneak-Peek’

COLLEGE PARK, Md. --On Nov. 20, 2011, the University of Maryland's Gamer Symphony Orchestra (GSO), which performs music from classic video games like Final Fantasy and new hits like Super Mario Galaxy, will treat members of the media to a preview of its annual fall concert.

The media preview begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Wakefield Band Room No. 2540 of the university's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. GSO will play a portion of the program it has planned for the fall concert, which takes place on December 3 at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center's Dekelboum Concert Hall. The performance is free, family-friendly and open to the public.

For three semesters in a row GSO has filled Dekelboum, the largest performing arts venue on the College Park campus, to capacity.

Highlights from this concert's repertoire include themes from Pokémon, Shadow of the Colossus and Civilization V. GSO musicians arrange all the pieces in the ensemble's repertoire, adapting songs for the specific instrumentation and size of the orchestra. The Civilization piece also represents a first for GSO, an arrangement written in cooperation with its original composer.

GSO's 120-plus members include a 30-person chorus, which sings both on its own and together with the instrumentalists.

Founded late in 2005 by five students, the GSO works to establish video game music as a serious art form and uses that music as a way to bring new and younger audiences to orchestral performances. GSO is the first organization of its type at the college level.

In addition to performing, GSO members organize yearly video game tournaments, dubbed “Deathmatch for Charity.” The event raises money for Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The event has raised more than $3,300 in its five-year history.

In February, the GSO partnered with Video Games Live (VGL), a nationally acclaimed concert tour featuring orchestral video game music synchronized with video montages, and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale in the Music Center at Strathmore. The GSO provided VGL with an arrangement to be performed during the two sold-out shows, as well as a vocal soloist for the piece.

Educational outreach is also an important part of GSO's mission, and orchestra members have worked with area high schoolers to promote video game songs, as well as music in general. Inspired by GSO's previous concerts, a group of students at Magruder High School in Rockville, Md., began a gamer symphony orchestra of their own in December 2008. GSO provided administrative assistance and sheet music to help the Magruder group grow. Additionally, the GSO has recently inspired a group of students at Damascus High School in Damascus, Md. to establish a gamer symphony orchestra. GSO's leaders have even participated in seminars promoting the academic study of video game music.

For more information and links to video and audio recordings, please contact GSO President Alexander Ryan or visit GSO's website: http://umd.gamersymphony.org/.

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