Alongside her work on video games such as World of Warcraft, the Irish composer and conductor Eimear Noone made history in 2020 when she became the first woman to conduct the orchestra at the Oscars. Noone isn’t surprised to see the gap between classical music and video games closing. “A lot of game composers come from the classical world, so it makes sense that we bring that to whatever we do,” she says.
“It’s very exciting for me as an orchestral musician to see how many people experience orchestral music as both living music and music through their game consoles. I have had the privilege of meeting literally tens of thousands of video game fans in person, and people will say to me, ‘Oh, my favorite song is from World of Warcraft,’ and I’ll say, ‘Does that mean your favorite band is the orchestra?’ And they’ll say, ‘Yeah, maybe!’”
While Land of Silence isn’t a video game production, Bocker hasn’t shied away from a video game aesthetic to make it appealing for modern-day audiences, not least when it comes to Shimomura’s music. “For Merregnon: Land of Silence, this was the sort of direction I wanted to go. Very memorable, accessible and catchy melodies for all of the character and town themes and so on.”
There’s also a focus on education in Land of Silence, similar to how Peter and the Wolf introduced children to the different instruments in the orchestra. In Land of Silence, characters have their own themes and instruments. Its protagonist, the orphan Miru, is represented by the cello, her dog, Mako, by the marimba, and the antagonist, Skissor, by the clarinet. Bocker hopes this will inspire questions about specific instruments from the audience, but he’s keen to stress that the focus is always on entertainment.
“Of course, the educational part is important, but we don’t want to make it too obvious. My main interest is to entertain people and in the best case to show them how cool an orchestra can be, what cool sounds can be made, and how entertaining the whole experience can be.”
While many in the classical world see the benefits of the video game crossover, there’s still a feeling among some directors and classical music purists that video game compositions don’t hold up against the classical repertoire. Grammy-winning producer and director Arnie Roth believes these views are only holding them back.
“Why have these walls up? That’s not how people are living their lives. I do understand and would regret the loss of classical foundations and structure, so it’s important to retain that, but it’s also important to change and grow,” he says.
Roth believes that many who attend video game concerts will be receptive to great classical music when they hear it; the challenge is just getting them to hear it, so they can connect the dots between their favorite video game composers and what inspired them.