Susie Benchasil Seiter, renowned for her work orchestrating music for films and video games, will conduct the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra's Pokémon performance.
the Walt Disney Theater with fans eager to hear music based on newer releases. The Zelda shows were performed by the Orlando Philharmonic, along with the 24-voice Florida Opera Theater Chorus. There are several connections between Zelda and Evolutions. Most notably, Chad Seiter composed the symphonic versions of both. His talented spouse conducted several Zelda performances (although none in Orlando) before signing on with the Evolutions tour. “I kind of fell into this because of Chad’s interest in video games,” says Susie Seiter. “In the last year or so, I’ve really become a fan of Pokémon. I love the music, but Pokémon is a whole new world that I’ve discovered.” The Zelda and Evolutions symphonies were both based on music originally written specifically for the video games by Koji Kondo and Junichi Masuda, respectively. No, you’ve probably never heard of either man — but to video-game aficionados, they’re legends. “The audience is filled with people who were gamers in the ‘90s as well as those, young and old, who are still aficionados of the video game culture,” says Mark Fischer, the Orlando Philharmonic's director of artistic operations, “They’re intimately familiar with each musical theme. They know the music like a fan of opera knows Tosca.” Fischer says the orchestra includes some hard-core gamers. But, he says, you don’t have to be an expert in Pokémon to appreciate — or to play — the music, which he describes as comparable in its complexity 48
artsLife | WINTER 2016
and emotional impact to that of Stravinsky, Prokofiev or John Williams. “The music is very clearly defined in terms of the character that should be portrayed, not unlike any Brahms or Mahler symphony,” he says. “In a way, performing Pokémon is like performing an opera to a time code.” These days, Fischer notes, classical musicians are accustomed to synching their playing to a click track they follow via headphones or ear buds. “It’s very much like performing a fast-paced opera with the music and visual elements combined,” he adds. Actually, the Pokémon universe, in all its nuances, is pretty complex. Essentially, the franchise is centered on the idea of humans capturing creatures — some cute, some creepy — and training them to battle one another. But, hey, it’s all in good fun; defeated Pokémon usually just faint. Evolutions provides a powerful musical retrospective spanning two decades and all six “generations” of games, including compositions from Red, Blue and Yellow; Gold, Silver and Crystal; Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald; Diamond, Pearl and Platinum; Black and White; and X and Y. “This show is a spectacular showcase of the memorable music that has been a hallmark of the Pokémon franchise for nearly 20 years,” says J.C. Smith, director of consumer marketing at the Pokémon Company International, which was founded by Nintendo to license its characters outside Asia. “We look forward to seeing fans of all ages enjoying this very special Pokémon