Students score high with computer game music -- Gazette.Net


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There are no crashes, explosions of other sounds of destruction in the video game music at Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Rockville.

The music, performed by students of the Gamer Symphony Orchestra, is soft, though growing in intensity, for sure. It’s a serious work by the group preparing to take part in the school’s annual winter concert Thursday.

To hear the show

The Col. Zadok Magruder High School Winter Concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the school, 5939 Muncaster Mill Road, Rockville.

“Its like soundtrack music,” said Mark Eisenhower, chairman of the music department and the orchestra’s sponsor. “Characters have themes.”

The orchestra is completely student run, Eisenhower said, although he is willing to support the members. The musicians even do their own arrangements.

Junior Macen Molina arranged the piece the group was working on at a rehearsal Friday, a selection adapted from “Kingdom Hearts,” a role-playing game in which the main character searches for his friends.

“I’ve always loved music and to be able to connect video games and music is great,” he said.

Molina, who plays the bassoon in the GSO, said “Kingdom Hearts” is dramatic: The player is the key master, trying to destroy people who are corrupt. It was a natural choice for him to see if he could capture the music.

Roughly 25 to 30 students play in the group, Eisenhower said. They incorporate mostly brass instruments, but also woodwinds, strings, an electric guitar and percussion.

The group is led by President Brian Berden, a senior and saxophone player, and senior Vice President Shiloh Parrish, who is the GSO conductor.

Both students are active in other music groups at Magruder and members of the school’s instrumental leadership council.

Berden arranged the second piece the group plans to perform at the concert.

“Its called ‘Fight,’ a medley of a lot of battle themes,” he said. “Themes from ‘Street Fighter,’ ‘Final Fantasy VII’ and ‘Pokemon Black and White.’”

The piece is a quartet for four saxophones, so he had to use pieces that could be broken down to four voices, he said.

Magruder’s GSO started, the best anyone can remember, about six years ago with just a handful of members. A band member who was interested in gaming heard that the University of Maryland had a gaming orchestra, heard it play and brought the idea back to the school.

“We are the first [in the county] and there is one at Quince Orchard [High School in Gaithersburg] and one at Damascus [High School],” Brian said.

The students said video games are a big part of their lives.

“Video games have always been a big part of my life. They’ve helped me bond with friends and get through hard times,” Brian said.

Macen said he hopes they will always be part of his life.

“I’d like to go into the industry, be a graphical engineer,” he said. “Take what artists draw and bring it to life.”

And still play the music.

pmcewan@gazette.net