One of the many things that sets Q-con apart from the other local conventions is its great range of entertainment throughout the weekend. The events put on each day of the convention by the QUB Dragonslayers really offer something for everyone, and Q-con is in fact the only convention that is able to offer its attendees the chance to enjoy a full blown orchestral concert!
This concert, properly known as Q-concert, was the second annual show performed by The Irish Video Game Orchestra (IVGO) . It was a spectacular trip down memory lane for everyone in attendance, as the orchestra performed songs and arrangements from a plethora of video game franchises. These franchises included Nintendo classics such as the Legend of Zelda, as well as modern classics such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, League of Legends and even Halo.
These dynamic and moving pieces set a very grand tone for the evening and one could fully appreciate the effort that went in to arranging them. There were however, a few more upbeat and lighthearted songs sprinkled throughout the evening such as music from Mario Kart and even the Pokemon games.
Listening to the music, I realized how broad of an appeal this concert had. The notion had in fact started earlier in the afternoon when a small number of IVGO members performed a little teaser for the evening outside the QUB SU, and one of the songs that was played was the Pokemon theme song, and nearly every single person, young and old, who was outside the SU at the time joined in to sing the song together. This level of camaraderie among the listeners carried out into the full concert because on a number of occasions I spotted people of all kinds nudging their friends and whispering what was probably something along the lines of ‘oh flip do you remember this one?’ and ‘oh yes this ones my favorite’ whenever a new song was kicking off.
I have only been to a handful of ‘normal’ concerts throughout my life but even I noticed the drastic difference in the audience engagement that was evident from this performance. Very few other orchestras could spark a sing-a-long in the street, and even fewer could evoke such an emotional reaction from their pieces.
I am as yet undecided as to whether or not this is due to the excellent arrangement of the pieces by the internationally recognized conductor and founder of the IVGO, Robert Martin, or the fact that video games have such a unique ability to invest you into a story and its characters in a way that no film or even book ever could due to the interaction that one can experience with the inhabitants of these virtual worlds and of course the scenes being set by the spectacular soundtracks, often resulting in people forming a complex emotional attachment to anything related to a video game that they have come to love.
Yesterday when researching the origins of The Irish Video Game Orchestra, I came across a lovely video in which Robert Martin explains that the goal of the IVGO is to introduce people to classical music in a way that appeals to them and I have to say that this goal was more than met during the weekend. Never have I seen such a wide range of people, most of them young, become so enthralled in classical music.
The diversity of the audience is reflected in the performers themselves and while most of the orchestra and choir are students of QUB and UU, there were a number of older musicians who are clearly just as passionate about video game music as their student counterparts. This actually links in with the IVGO’s recruitment policy because as a completely voluntary, community based ensemble, anyone who is eager enough to join and can play an orchestral musical instrument (or sing) is welcome to join the orchestra.
In conclusion I would say that if you are into orchestral music, video games, or both, there is definitely no reason why you shouldn’t keep an eye out for the next time The Irish Video Game Orchestra performs because honestly it was one of the most entertaining musical evenings I’ve experienced for a long while.
For anyone interested in learning more about the IVGO or joining it, you can check out their Facebook page or email address:
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