The Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra is a community orchestra and choir whose mission is to share and celebrate video game music with a wide audience by putting on affordable, accessible concerts in the Washington, D.C., area.
Game music weaves a tapestry of the traditions, values and mythos of video game culture. In it we find deep emotion and truths about life, as well as new ways of expressing ourselves. We find meaning and beauty that transcends the medium of games and stays with us for life.
Despite this, these soundtracks largely escape recognition in professional musical circles. WMGSO is dedicated to showcasing this emerging art form and highlighting the virtuosity of its composers.
The WMGSO grew out of the Gamer Symphony Orchestra at the University of Maryland, College Park, the world's first permanent collegiate orchestra devoted exclusively to performing video game music. Several graduates discussed creating a community-level orchestra to continue this mission and founded the WMGSO in the summer of 2012. After more than a year of preparation, the board collected a repertoire and brought Nigel Horne aboard as music director and conductor.
The group's first rehearsal in August 2013 consisted of about 15 musicians and singers auditioning for spots. Since those humble beginnings, the group has grown to more than 85 performers. The WMGSO held its first public performances in the spring of 2014. The first concert was in April at Living Faith Lutheran Church, which graciously hosted WMGSO's first year of rehearsals. The second was in June at Rockville High School, and attracted more than 500 audience members. Shortly after that June performance, the IRS accepted WMGSO’s application to become a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
To provide partial funding for its spring 2015 season, WMGSO received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, which allowed the ensemble to perform in June at Rockville’s F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in front of a capacity crowd. In the summer of 2015, WMGSO performed at the first-ever Super Smash Con at the Dulles Expo Center.
Our concert schedule has also expanded to include not only primary concerts in both Maryland and Northern Virginia, but chamber and small ensemble performances throughout the D.C. Metro Area as well.
Why Video Game Music?
WMGSO Treasurer Chris Apple shares his answer to one of our most frequently asked questions.
Why do we still tell the stories of Beowulf, Odysseus and Hamlet? Why do we still listen to Beethoven? There is something about them that makes us want to share; we find meaning in them. Meaning in art changes lives, and when you find that kind of meaning you know that others will benefit from it too, and that it needs to be shared.
It’s not the plot or the art or even the music itself that inspires us to share. In these games we find basic truths about life itself. We find ourselves, and new ways of thinking about and expressing ourselves. We find the same meaning that is found in other music, in novels, movies, and other literature, meaning that transcends the medium itself and stays with a person for life. Games are not just children’s toys, they often deal with serious adult ideas, like love, war, politics, religion, parenthood, and poverty. It has changed our lives and brought us happiness, and we know that our audience can find and cherish those truths as well. That makes those truths bigger than us, and compels us to present them to you.
Many of our audience are gamers, and many are not. You may not know the fantastic worlds, characters and stories that unfold in each of these video games. You may not know the gravity of saying that the last Metroid is in captivity, what it means to seek the Promised Land, or the humbling experience of becoming the Hero of Light. But you will know, because those ideas enshrine those basic truths which we will share through our music and our passion for it. Music is a language that bypasses words. It communicates in feelings, motion, color, and light. There is a truth in music itself which can express an idea far better than any statement. By listening to their music, you need not know anything about the games to know how it feels to have experienced them.
So why are we on this stage? Because our minds and our hearts leave us no other choice. This music, these games, this experience is bigger than us, and we want them to be shared as widely as possible, and succeed us when we are gone.