[Concert Review] Seattle Video Game Orchestra And Choir (Sakura-Con, 2017)

If you have to start somewhere, when do the feedback floodgates open to allow for constructive criticism? Should polite proposals remain off limits until after an absolute amount of practice posts, pictures, or performances? Is it unfair to compare performers of amateur and mature skill? I appreciate the inclusivity of the Seattle Video Game Orchestra and Choir and I’m always inspired by anyone attempting to broaden taste. I just think some improvement could reliably impress.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

To provide context: Sakura-Con hosted this free performance. I arrived early, before staff had to turn people away from waiting in the 30-minute line due to room capacity, and found a close seat for better photos. I don’t know any of the performers.

That said, the choir section was great!

There were a few standout performances. The singer that lead their cover of “Stand by Me,” originally performed by Ben E. King and now featured as the theme song for Final Fantasy XV, vigorously hit the right notes and received a standing ovation. Their only tie-in to the anime convention, “Green Bird” from Cowboy Bebop by Kanno Yoko and the Seatbelts, was also well received by the audience. The remaining highlights of the choir section’s include songs from Final Fantasy VII and World of Warcraft.

This leads into my “cover song red flag” theory. If you cover a well known song and hit a note or two wrong, you can’t easily bend the note to sound halfway right. You either have to practice until you can’t fail, or you make the song completely your own to begin with.

Too bad some orchestra members needed a little more practice.

Tuning out the wrong notes to background music, I thought about how the contents of school orchestras or bands may shift, as videogames become more culturally acceptable, to include modern content. I’m not arguing that modern composers are better than classical composers, merely that songs from the Final Fantasy series by Uematsu Nobuo or the Legend of Zelda series by Kondo Koji are more relevant. If I had the option to learn how to perform even one song from a videogame, I might have opted for band class.

To return on-topic, there were some good performers within the orchestra section, particularly the horn section. Since we addressed that some performers could use more practice, I’d like to focus on that idea of inclusivity from before, in the spirit of constructive criticism.

This group could be an encouraging environment for students wrapping up compulsory studies, amateurs looking to develop their skills, and professionals looking to try the touring concert circuit. In that regard, I say great! I would even say there should be more groups like this fostering interest the crossover appeal of classical and videogame music. It’s just that you may have to forgive the learning curves along the way. We’ll all write typos, draw mistakes, and hit wrong notes along the way.

Maybe with more practice everyone will consistently receive standing ovations?

Bonus Choir Photo:

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