Anybody wandering the halls of Rockville’s Whooton High School on a Monday night may hear the iconic theme song from Super Smash Bros. Melee echoing from the school’s music room, but the young men and women inside the room are not playing the beloved video game; they are using everything from cellos to trombones to recreate its music with a full orchestra.
The Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra is a group of more than fifty musicians and passionate video game players from around the D.C. area.
“We are the first community level group of musicians [in the D.C. region] to draw a repertoire exclusively from the realm of video game soundtracks,” said trumpet player Robert Garner.
The orchestra is practicing at Whooton in preparation for an upcoming public performance at Rockville High School December 12, which will feature songs from popular games like The Legend of Zelda and Super Smash Brothers, but will also include songs from more obscure games such as Okami and The Wonderful 101.
Made up of a few of its veteran members, the orchestra’s governing board decides what music is played at concerts, according to musical director Nigel Thorn. Thorn said the board usually does not pick out songs. Instead, ordinary members of the orchestra suggest songs they like and the board tries to adapt them into an orchestral format.
“Our concert opener this year is ‘Super Mario Sleigh Ride,’ which is a mash up. It takes Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’ and there are a couple of chord progressions in his song that are similar to the early Super Mario Brothers music. So we glued the two together. We got the idea from a video game cover band called the One-Ups,” said Garner.