Tommy Tallarico is on a mission to make sure audiences think of videogame music as more than just blips and bloops.
A composer of more than 275 videogame soundtracks over the past 19 years, Tallarico is one of the creators of Video Games Live, a traveling concert that enlists local symphony orchestras and choirs to perform scores from games.
This multimedia affair synchronizes music with massive videoscreens, rock ‘n’ roll lighting effects and onstage interactivity– and it’s generated a considerable following around the world.
In February, a show in Taiwan attracted more than 100,000; attendees of performances in Brazil have cheered as if at a soccer match. Its bow at the Beacon Theater on Broadway last year sold out within days.
After a two-year absence, the 2½ hour event is making its return to Los Angeles to close this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, with a performance at the Greek Theater. “The reason this was created was to prove to the world how culturally significant videogames have become,” says Tallarico, who together with videogame vet Jack Wall launched the first Video Games Live event in 2005, with a show at the Hollywood Bowl. Three shows were performed that year. Last year’s schedule boasted 47 performances; this year, over 70 are planned.
“Symphonies aren’t connecting with a younger audience,” Tallarico says. “We’re using things we grew up with to teach a new audience to appreciate the symphony and the arts.”
The crossover of movie composers to videogames has helped increase the profile of game scores, with Michael Giacchino, Bill Conti, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore and John Debney all having contributed recently to games.
This year’s show will feature music from classics like “Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda”; from the “Final Fantasy,” “Metal Gear,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “World of Warcraft” franchises; as well as from upcoming installments of “Halo” and “Diablo.”
“I always had a vision of this being something successful,” Tallarico says. “But now after four years, I never thought it would get this big.”