This coming Friday (27th September 2013) sees the start of the Young Musicians Foundation’s 2013-14 program of events. And it kicks off in style, with a concert of video game music featuring many of its composers themselves. Greg Edmonson, UNCHARTED composer will be performing, along with Jack Wall, Austin Wintory and several others. We caught up with the organisers ahead of the event in Los Angeles to find out some background and a few more details.
In a nutshell; what is the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF), and what are its aims?
Since Young Musicians Foundation’s founding in 1955, our purpose has been to offer opportunities for youth of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds to develop their abilities and passions for classical music. For nearly six decades, our programs have continually evolved in order to make a greater impact on the young musicians and audiences we serve.
We currently offer seven programs including The Debut Orchestra, the Music Mentors Program, the Scholarship Program, the Chamber Music Series, & the Conductor-in-Residence Program. Each year these programs serve 400 young musicians who perform for audiences of all ages, totaling 4,500 residents of all ethnicities. Our outreach programs specifically serve children/youth ages 4 to 14 in the Lennox and Los Angeles Unified School Districts where the vast majority of the population is Latino and almost all students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
In recent years it has become a priority for YMF to provide a broad range of residents of the greater Los Angeles area with access to potentially life-changing classical musical music performances. Thus, for several years, we have provided outreach concerts free of charge in Los Angeles neighborhoods that had not previously offered such opportunities for their residents
Can you tell me a bit about how the concert came about, please? Whose idea was it to use music from games in such a way?
YMF strives to keep classical music alive by engaging the next generation. A substantial portion of our concert audience is 50 and over. We wanted to educate a new demographic about the value of classical music. By highlighting a rich but often overlooked aspect of the video game industry, the MUSIC, we saw the potential to attract a different audience.
Additionally, at our 2010 Annual Gala fundraiser, Joey Newman conducted the Debut Orchestra’s performance of his score from Lineage, with accompanying video feed of images from the game. This was very innovative programming for us and stirred a lot of excitement among the players and the audience. Our Executive Director, Julia Gaskill, wanted to expand upon this idea and create an entire concert devoted to game music.
How was the program put together? The selection from Uncharted alone is quite a broad spectrum of what the score has to offer. [Nate‘s Theme, Reunion, Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ and Small Beginnings are all being featured]
We were fortunate enough to team up with Jack Wall, one of the co-creators of Video Games Live who served as its Director/Conductor from 2005-2010. Jack is producing the content-portion of Gamer Jams. He hand-selected our eight composers and seven soloists from his video game network of friends and collaborators.
Jack chose Lost Planet 3 because the soundtrack was just released on August 27 to great reviews. This performance will be the world premiere of the Lost Planet 3 Suite! The composers themselves selected the individual pieces within each medley.
In case you need a reminder; here is the rather marvelous Nate’s Theme…
I see that Greg Edmonson is to appear as a soloist…
Greg Edmonson was selected by Jack Wall. This will be our first time working with Greg.
Most of the composers, with the exception of Greg and Inon Zur will be conducting their own pieces. Greg has opted to play in the orchestra instead. YMF’s Music Director & Conductor, Roger Kalia, will step in to conduct their pieces.
Are there any plans for similar events in the future?
This year we were fortunate to be selected by the Ford Theatre as one of 30 non-profit arts organizations to be a part of their Summer Series. The 2013 summer season marks the 20th anniversary of the Partnership Program, which nurtures locally-based artists, arts organizations and community, celebrating and reflecting on stage the diversity of the people of Los Angeles County.
We would love to repeat this event and are already brainstorming ideas for a second round.
You can buy tickets for the event, and see the complete program here. I strongly recommend that you go if you can; it looks like a fantastic program with a lot of games’ most celebrated composers. I will post some images from the event when they are made available.
I would like to thank YMF for their comprehensive and insightful answers, and I wish them the best of luck for both the event on Friday and in the future.