The Dublin International Game Music Festival

The Dublin International Game Music Festival
The iDIG Music Fest - Click on the image to go to our website!

Monday, September 9, 2013

VIDEO GAMES LIVE: The inside scoop!

Warning: hard-core video game music fans only.  This thing is LONG!

Get your tickets to the Dublin International Game Music Festival
April 2-4th, 2015

and see Eimear and Tommy together again in a three day celebration of Video Game Music

You can also buy his new CD, "Video Games Live Level 3" through this link:

Tommy Tallarico may as well have asked 'Do you want to be a rockstar for a day?' because that's what it felt like for this classic orchestral geek to be on stage for Video Games Live in Irvine and at Comic Con this past July.

Not your usual orchestral concert...

For those who don't know, Tommy is a multi-hyphanite/multi-hyphanite.  In addition to being a game and media composer himself, he's a mad creative genius who loves to have a good time and share great video game music.

Tommy at Video Games Live (VGL)
He was told he was completely mad when, in 2002, his excessively fertile brain came up with the never-before-seen concept of an orchestral concert dedicated to video game scores.  What followed was inevitable, knowing Tommy as I do now:  The genus of his ideas comes from the pure joy of creativity and the possibility of sharing something life-enhancing and spectacular with others.  It lights him up from within, and is obvious and sublimely contagious to anyone who has seen him perform.
Well, let's just say, the nay-sayers at the time were many and vocal, and Tommy's reaction...  

'Ok then, thanks for your opinions, now let's book the Hollywood Bowl! 

The first concert with the LA Philharmonic was a roaring success and spawned an entirely new genre of concert experience, bringing live orchestral performance to an audience that may never have experienced the power of such a musical force.

And it was thus that Tommy's little idea became part of music history.

Not everyone gets to create their own concert genre, but the lesson from Tommy is to let your excitement and passion guide, energize and fortify you;  let the sound of your own creative voice drown out the nay-sayers and obstacle makers.


And so it was that after a couple of years of trying to get our schedules to align, the perfect moment arose for me to make a couple of guest appearances at VGL, for two very special editions of the show.

Rehearsing with the Pacific Symphony, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
The first concert in Irvine was a Blizzard-centric program, and I was to conduct one of the cues from the BAFTA nominated score to Diablo III, for which I had the great pleasure of conducting the original recording (reminder to self: must do a blog entry on that ultimate scoring adventure).

Most importantly, Tommy, and one of my dearest friends, Blizzard's Audio Director/Principal Composer Russell Brower, had set the stage, so to speak, so that the entire Blizzard music team got to represent World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo at this particular VGL concert.

Eímear and Blizzard Audio Chief, and Principle Composer
Russell Brower

Russell on the podium

All of my favorite Blizzard-music-family members were there:  Russell, Neal Acree, Glen Stafford, Derek Duke and Jason Hayes.  It was such an emotional experience to watch and hear some of my favorite beings perform each other's music.  During rehearsal, and back stage, we reminisced about the original recordings and anecdotes that go back years together.  It's a very rare occasion that we all get to be in the same space at the same time.

Jason Hayes and Derek Duke
Neal Acre, Rockin Out, while Derek Duke
Conducts the Pacific Symphony.

 It was actually the first time I'd ever heard, performed live, some of the very orchestrations that I had worked on for Jason Hayes' original WOW score.  This instantly transported me back in time to - ahem ahem - years ago - when we actually worked on it.  It was also very moving for me to see Jason perform it.

Eímear and Jason Hayes
Jason Hayes on the Podium
The orchestra for VGL in Irvine was The Pacific Symphony, with whom I'd had the pleasure of recording the original score for Diablo III.  The piece I performed was the concert version of Russell Brower's "Leah".  I had actually commissioned/nagged Russell to write an extended version of this, one of my favorites of his compositions, to perform on stage at Segerstrom Hall with the PSO last April.

Eímear Conducting Russell Brower's "Leah."
There's nothing like performing the music of a dear friend with an orchestra I have come to know and appreciate so well.

Aside from this epic display of all things Blizzard, we all got to celebrate with our colleague Austin Wintory, the stunning success of his score for "Journey."  This beautiful piece of work was actually nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.  Of course, it's incalculably important to all of us that VG Music gets recognized in such a prestigious way, so backstage the atmosphere was jubilant and congratulatory.

Austin Wintory, Rehearsing His Score from "Journey"

Speaking of backstage:

There is another facet to VGL that is uniquely impressive in that it's a family business full of heart, inclusiveness and generosity of spirit.   These are the attributes that gives every show a backstage atmosphere that's like none other I've experienced - something spun out of a contagious good-naturedness, where each member of the team is passionate about the sho, their role in it and completely respectful of the orchestral/choral musicians and performers.

Aside from Tommy's family and friends supportively milling about, his brother Mike Tallarico is an integral and vital part of operations.  Then there's the long-standing chosen family of Cesar Solorio (stage), Mike Runice (video) and Matt Yelton (audio).  

Cesar Solorio with one of Tommy's Custom Guitars

Cesar Solorio with one of Tommy's Custom Guitars
Sitting down to a pre-concert dinner, nay banquet, with the guys was like being welcomed into their family home, taking your shoes off and simply doing your thing.  Plus, my dressing room was right next to gorgeous vocalist Jill Aversa whose warm-up exercises coming through the walls set the tone for what I knew was to be a great night.

Singer Jill Adversa and my Stepdaughter, Aspiring singer Madz
One of the greatest pleasures of my experiences with VGL was in meeting the show's acclaimed conductor/composer Emmanuel Fratianni and conspiratorially laugh/cringing through two careers worth of live performance war stories together!  I think we lost count of battle scars but the anecdotes were hilariously terrifying in their re-living and sharing.  

It was akin to two safety-net-averse tight-rope walkers sitting at a bar, limbs in plater casts, drunkenly comparing breakages... ouch!  

Aside from his obvious talents as both conductor and composer, Emmanuel is simply the classiest of old-fashioned musical gentlemen, instantly setting everyone at ease in rehearsal from soloists to orchestra, choir and guest conductor/composers.

VGL Conductor Emmanuel Fratiani and Tommy,
With the Pacific Symphony
So, that was Irvine, and now for the afore-mentioned record-breaking/history-making bit:

A couple of days later we traveled to San Diego for SDCC for a very special VGL - the Comic Con Edition.  For this show I conducted another of Russell's pieces from Diablo III - "And the Heavens Shall Tremble" (I always hear that title in Tyrael's booming baritone voice in my head...).

This performance was going to be special, as we all knew it would be broadcast over TV and was projected to be the most watched live video game music concert ever.

The Amazon/Twitch stream was viewed by over 330,000 people live on the night of the show!  
Since then over a million people have viewed it.  You can watch it in it's entirety HERE:  

The Live Feed on Amazon

It also trended at #2 on Twitter and #1 that day was SDCC itself!

So with all of this creation of new genres, making of history and breaking of records, what could possibly be left for Tommy and VGL to actually accomplish? 

Well, in true Tallarico style, don't pause on that thought for too long or you'll have already missed it:  

The greatest video game music kickstarter campaign ever!

The nay-sayers from 2002 are still sitting in the dark somewhere rubbing their chins in complete befuddlement!

Here are a few more of the pictures we got from the shows:

Eimear Rehearsing

Eimear Rehearsing
Neal Acre, Conducting the Pacific Symphony

Jason Hayes, Cueing the Brass.
Eimear Conducting Leah

Leah, from Diablo III

Tommy's Guitars

Ms. Madz favorite, 
Jereme Soule's "Dragonborn Theme,"
from "Skyrim"

Photos by Craig Stuart Garfinkle


  1. Excellent. Ilu and I went to the show when it visited Allentown; we met Tommy and had a great time. He has such energy that is unrivaled.

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