Games

Assassin’s Creed Symphony is live game music unlike anything you’ve seen (or heard) before

Assassin's Creed Symphony is live game music unlike anything you've seen (or heard) before (Pic: UBISOFT)

Assassins Creed isnt a franchise thats particularly well-known for its soundtracks. Thats not to say the music that complements the games is bad – it just isnt as iconic as the likes of Final Fantasy, Zelda, Skyrim or other brands… yet.

But as Ubisoft seeks to push its presence ever outward and influence sectors outside of just gaming, were seeing the company start to experiment, take risks, reward its loyal player base for sticking with them for so long.

To that end, this year were seeing Ubisoft start to tour Assassin's Creed Symphony – a live orchestral performance of the now-classic series' most beloved music. Were seeing an upward trend in these kinds of shows: Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon and more besides have all had live orchestral shows dedicated to them.

But Assassins Creed is a bit more left-field, and thanks to the series sprawling, open world nature, its soundtrack doesnt necessarily lend itself to straight-up orchestral covers.

So Ubisoft has assembled a crack team of musicians and producers to make this show the ultimate fan experience – its not just a Greatest Hits rundown of Assassins Creed samples, no, instead its an immersive, emotional chronicle of everything the series has achieved in its 12-year history.

Brought to life on-stage by the 56-piece Tuscany Symphony Orchestra and supported by a 20-strong choir, the total 76 ensemble is enough to make even the biggest Assassins Creed cynic soften their face and stare in awe at the spectacle Ubisoft has put together.

Weve been fortunate enough to visit a few games music concerts similar to this, but none of them have been anything like what Ubisoft has achieved here.

Brought to life on-stage by the 58-piece Tuscany Symphony Orchestra and supported by a 20-strong choir, the total 78 ensemble is enough to make even the biggest Assassins Creed cynic soften their face and stare in awe at the spectacle Ubisoft has put together.

Weve been fortunate enough to visit a few games music concerts similar to this, but none of them have been anything like what Ubisoft has achieved here.

Thats largely because of the talent Ubisoft has brought in to make this work. The show has been produced by Massimo Gallotta – who has worked with music legends such as Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Joe Cocker and more, and has staged shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York, produced performances at the United Nations.

His fascination with the mixed media formula of visuals from video games paired with music arranged for a symphony orchestra and choir led doesnt start and end with Assassins Creed. Gallotta – who, when we met him, harnessed that same charming energy Jeff Goldbum has – told us that hes worked on several tours of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses for Nintendo, and produced international shows for Distant Worlds (Final Fantasy) from Square Enix.

"Discovering live music and games together was actually an accident for me," he explains to us in La Spezia, Italy, as the orchestra finishes up its very first audience-attending of the show.

"I was working in LA, with a composer working on film scores, and we got talking about visual and audio and the future of how they will work together. I noticed more and more, people were bringing up videogames composers in the same breath as Hans Zimmer and John Williams, and people were saying to me the future will be in live videogames music.

"We did 100 shows – and events like this became very popular, and we kept getting requests for me. Many would sell out – we even sold out Wembley Arena on the Zelda tour!

"Events like this are going to get more and more popular, and attract more and more people. My goal is to make events like this more consistent in the calendar. I want to work with rock and pop stars to work with more videogame music – similarly to what Florence + the Machine did with Final Fantasy. Ivan Linn and I are talking about that kind of experiment in the future, actually…"

(Pic: UBISOFT)

Gallotta mentions Ivan Linn – the music director behind this show. Linn is of a similar pedigree to Gallotta: hes been playing music professionally since the age of 12, and during that time has taken part in music festivals after having been invited by UNESCO, has played at New Yorks Carnegie Hall and has toured the world with his piano trio, Trio Concorde.

Hes also no stranger to videogames, having been involved with the recording and development of the Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV soundtracks, and working closely on the creation of the Kingdom Hearts III OST, too.

"Starting in this project, my first thought was this is a lot of music to organise! [laughter]. We received music files from Ubisoft with over 30GB of data, so between listening to that myself and checking in with fans and the developers, we got an idea of what sort of music people would want to hear at a live concert."

Linn is well-versed in performing for audiences of gaming enthusiasts – and he tells us the shows are quite unlike anything hes had the pleasure of playing before.

"Coming from a more classical music background, you get a very different feeling when you play concerts like this. Your audience screams all the time! [laughter] This is a good thing! When I play the piano, I can see the audience, and often in game concerts, you often see people cry.

"Thats because its nostalgic – it takes people back somewhere on a very personal level.

"When I started doing concerts like this – some seven or so years ago – I remember venues were confused by what we were doing. Theyd never seen shows like this before, and they couldnt imagine putting videogames to a concert like this… it was sometimes difficult to find venues because of that.

"But now, its quite obvious that its becoming a trend. In Philadelphia, maybe two or three years ago, we did a symphony orchestra show for Legend of Zelda and we had maybe 7,000 attendees. For a symphony orchestra concert… its almost impossible! But videogames make miracles!"

Linn and Gallotta have headed up a show that makes movements out of the Assassins Creed scores, weaving a narrative into the soundscape and delivering a compressRead More – Source