First Fantasy: Music from Video Games, Anime, Fantasy Films and Fiction

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony is drawing from a less-traditional font of inspiration for its first concert of 2010 – fantasy books, films and games.

UW-Green Bay Prof. Kevin Collins will direct the symphonic band and wind symphony in a Feb. 27 concert that features music from fantasy books and films, animated features and video games. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. in the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, 2420 Nicolet Drive. Tickets are $7 for adults or $5 for students and seniors, and are available at the door, or in advance by calling (800) 328-8587 or online at

The theme for the concert came as Collins read the musings of journalist, science fiction writer and blogger Cory Doctorow, and Dan Pink, who has written about the impact of the popular and creative culture upon the global economy, including the financial impact of video games.

“I think that it’s fair to say that this program was especially inspired by (Doctorow’s) “Makers” and “Little Brother,” Collins said. “I find myself fascinated by his descriptions of the contemporary popular sub-cultures, and the creative culture of modification and personalization that has developed around new technologies.”

The concert will begin with the Symphonic Band performing excerpts from “Symphony No. 1, Lord of the Rings,” by Johan Demeij. The work is based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, not the more recent Peter Jackson film trilogy. Those selections will be followed by “New Moon,” Alexandre Desplat’s score from the popular movie Twilight New Moon.

The combined Wind Symphony/Symphonic Band will turn next to a suite from the Batman film, The Dark Knight, by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

Following an intermission will be “Howl’s Moving Castle,” a symphonic fantasy by Joe Hisaishi created for the popular children’s anime classic.

The evening will close with “Video Games Live Suite,” an arrangement by Ralph Ford of six musical selections from video games: “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII; “Myst III Main Theme” from Exile; “Bounty Hunter Theme” from Advent Rising; “Halo Theme” from Halo; “Coronation and Baba Yetu” from Civilization IV; and “Kingdom Hearts.”

“I’ve been really impressed by the intense relationship students have to this music,” Collins said. “They have known and loved these pieces for many years, and getting to perform them in public is a real kick for them.

For gamers, anime and fantasy film fans, and those who love fiction this is a rare opportunity to hear their favorite music played in a live concert setting, Collins said. Even those unfamiliar with these pieces will still find the music to be enjoyable, with a wide range of styles and influences. A unique aspect that should provide some additional fun is that UW-Green Bay students who come dressed in costume can get in free just by showing their student I.D.

“We’re treating this music as the high quality classical music it is and our students are working very hard to give it the respect that it deserves,” Collins said.

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R. Terry Anderson

I teach English Composition and handle media and marketing for the Institute for Learning Partnership.

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