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Video Games Live Brings Different Music to the Kennedy Center

The crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday sported Halo T-shirts and were armed with portable Nintendo DS systems. No, it wasn’t a horde of lost teenage tourists. They were there to attend an interactive performance featuring video-game music. And the Nintendos they were carrying? Oh, those were just to play a quick round of Tetris during the 15-minute intermission of the Video Games Live performance.

Video Games Live, an interactive concert tour created in 2002 by the video-game industry, takes the music behind today’s top video games and has it performed by orchestras with syncopated lights and video. The group made its Washington debut this weekend in a two-night appearance at the Kennedy Center.

The concert featured music from video games—ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog to God of War to Warcraft—performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. Tommy Tallarico, cofounder of the Video Games Live tour, hosted the evening and charmed the energetic audience—a mix of young and old, video-game fanatics and orchestra loyalists.

The sold-out concert hall enjoyed several guest appearances, including one from Sid Meier, creator of Civilization IV. There was also a performance by Martin Leung, the Video Game Pianist (, who brought the crowd to a standing ovation with his fast fingers and exaggerated motions during his Final Fantasy piece. Only after the audience waved their portable video-game players, cell phones, and mp3 players in the air for an encore did the night end with an extra performance of Final Fantasy VII’s “One-Winged Angel” by the orchestra.

Video Games Live featured a colorful light show during musical pieces as well as a large screen on which footage of video games flashed behind the orchestra. Before the show, gamers entered a costume contest dressed as their favorite game characters. There were two contests during the evening. In the other, a Nintendo system and an AMD Ferrari Laptop were given away to two audience members who played giant-sized versions of Frogger and Space Invaders.

Tallarico introduced the evening by explaining how he and conductor/cofounder Jack Wall aim to bring a sense of cultural awareness and artistry to the world of video games. For more information and tour dates, visit

Photo by Margot Ingoldsby Schulman. A small choir accompanied the National Symphony Orchestra at Video Games Live.
Photo by Margot Ingoldsby Schulman. A costume contest preceded the interactive concert at the Kennedy Center.