It had been a cloudy humid Thursday—a busy August weeknight for most of the people in the metro; but for some, it was a much-awaited night of invigorating music, of artistic ambiance, and creative prowess. It’s been three years since the last Rush Hour Concert: Video Games Symphonic event and the 2022 return was met with vibrant, excited spirits from the video-game, pop culture, and music-loving community.
Held once again at the Ayala Museum in Makati City, this year’s Video Games Symphonic was quite resplendent in its chosen set of music pieces:
- Proof of a Hero from “Monster Hunter” – Masato Koda / arr. Jacob Zeleny
- Super Mario Bros. Medley – Koji Kondo / arr. Nic Raine
- Megalovania, for Orchestra, from Undertale – Toby Fox
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (No. 3) – Joe Hisaishi
- My Neighbor Totoro – Joe Hisaishi
- Final Fantasy VII Remake: Opening Theme and Bombing Mission – Nobuo Uematsu / arr. Andres Soto
- Final Fantasy X: To Zanarkand – Nobuo Umematsu / arr. Andres Soto
- Never Meant to Belong from Bleach – Shiro Sagisu | Violin Solo by Diomedes Saraza Jr.
- Rapid as Wildfires from Genshin Impact – Yu Peng Chen
- Under the Black Flag from Assassin’s Creed – Bryan Tyler / arr. Andres Soto; and, an encore piece from Marvel Legends
The concert, which ran approximately an hour and a half, was available for viewership on (1) the live orchestra floor, (2) an annex area in the venue with a mounted projector screen, and (3) online through ZOOM. Cosplayers also attended the live performance, donned in the characters they loved from the games featured on the setlist.
As a first-time attendee of a live performance by the esteemed Manila Symphonic Orchestra (MSO), conducted by Maestro Marlon Chen, I can only describe the experience as awe-inspiring and truly mesmerizing, if not highly bewitching. As an artist and a fan of video games and pop culture, this opportunity to witness a globally-renowned conductor and one of the country’s premier artistic institutions perform a soundtrack from the games that impacted my life was a huge milestone for me.
“It is an entirely new expression,” said Mr. Jeffrey Solares, the Executive Director of the MSO. He shared their institution’s experience in handling such a theme for their Rush Hour Concerts and the success and support it entailed; notwithstanding the intricacies of some of the pieces (i.e. Megalovania).
Mr. Solares amusedly recalled that the Undertale music piece was recommended by an anonymous fan to the Ayala Museum. “…If you are here in this concert, the strings would like to have a word with you—!” Because of how challenging Megalovania was! And I could certainly attest that Megalovania was personally the most engaging piece out of everything else. I could almost see Maestro Chen dance upon his platform as he conducted. It was beautiful.
And to further solidify the beauty of that musical night was the violin solo of Maestro Diomedes Saraza, Jr. He played Never Meant to Belong from the famous shounen anime series, Bleach, with so much heart that I could feel like I also wanted to move in time with his bowing techniques.
The way the music flowed in the hall seeped into my bones, bringing its warmth down to the depths of my soul. I could liken the experience to the feeling of coming home, taking a hot shower, and then cozying up in my favorite blankets after an arduous week at work. It was highly rejuvenating. I knew I had work the next day—still needed to commute late into the night—but I felt greatly content. Satisfied. Flourishing. It was like the last few days of shock and exhaustion from school [and traffic] resumption was gone in those few hours of musical prowess.
Live classical music performance was the life-giving ambrosia I never knew I needed recently, and the cherry on top was the theme of video games and animated media. It was an amazing combination that invigorates the soul, body, and mind. We highly, recommend you to watch the orchestra live on the concert floor! The experience definitely differs from any online viewing platform. I do hope Ayala Museum and the MSO continue to conduct more Video Games Symphonic after the 2022 event in the future, and I would be sure to return and bask in that melodious night once again.