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Oregon Symphony Performs Music of Pokemon

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

 

The Oregon Symphony will be exploring a very different orchestral performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall this Thursday, as Portland becomes the latest city to host Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions.

Symphonic Evolutions takes some of the world's best orchestral musicians and asks them to recreate the music from the monumental franchise in full form. The concert combines visuals from the brand's games and cartoons with a full symphony to create a chronological narrative of Pokemon's nearly 20-year history. 

GoLocal had an opportunity to talk to one of the concert's Creative Producers, Portland's own Jeron Moore, to get a deeper look into the performance. Moore is part of the team, along with Chad and Susie Seiter, that has collaborated with Princeton Entertainment to bring Symphonic Evolutions to life. He and Seiter worked closely with the composer of the music from the games, Junichi Masuda. Moore told us about some of his own personal history with the franchise:

"I grew up playing Nintendo... when the Game Boy came out, I was one of the first ones to have that, too. My parents spoiled me (laughs)... Of course, Pokemon didn't come out until 1996, and so I was already a Sophomore, Junior in High School by that point... I did borrow Pokemon Red from one of my cousins and got into it. And that was really my first impression of Pokemon. I mean, I love JRPG's and it really appeals to my attraction to that genre... After that I had to kinda put it down up until Pokemon Black & White and X and Y came out... in preparation for the show, Chad and I, we had a lot of homework we had to do, a lot of catching up. There's been a lot of Pokemon games have come out, you know, since '96."

Pokemon's history is extensive, especially in a world where fads come and go quicker than the changing seasons. Moore spoke to the challenges of encompassing the entire franchise's narrative in an 85 minute concert, and how that narrative shaped the concert itself, as well as the influence of changing technologies over the years:

"We really wanted the show to be special and to create an experience that was authentic and genuine... The trick was trying to figure out how to organize the show, the concert, in a way that made sense to the franchise. We start with Red and Blue and we make our way through the franchise all the way to X and Y. There's definitely a narrative drive to the show as we're kind of recapping and recanting memories of the franchise. Of course, there's the double entendre of the music evolving as well from what it was to what you're hearing with the orchestra."

The concert is in the midst of an international tour, and the widespread impact of Pokemon on popular culture is inescapable. Reports abound of fans attending the concert in costume, being moved to tears by the performance, and citing it as one of the best nights of their life. Moore commented on the phenomenon that is Pokemon, providing this explanation for fan's enthusiasm and zeal:

"You're still living life while you're playing these games. We associate different events in our lives with, 'Oh, I remember Mom had a baby when I was playing this...' it kinda takes you back to those moments... whether you're immediately aware of it or whether it's just sort of subconscious. With Pokemon it really becomes your story... so it doesn't surprise me when people have an emotional response. What is a lot of fun is, from city to city, we see that different audiences respond to different things. It becomes a very audience-driven experience. Which we love, and the orchestra loves it, too. They're not used to receiving that kind of attention and enthusiasm from the audiences."

Moore, who lives in Portland, also mused about how the city's unique array of personalities may receive the concert:

"It's definitely on-trend as kind of a place where a lot of young people are coming and living life... I feel like Portland's kind of going through a renaissance right now, with the influx of people deciding to live here. It's going to be fun to see all the cosplay and just the reactions... Whether you know anything about Pokemon or not, I would definitely encourage you to come, because it's great music... the Oregon Symphony is fantastic, they are really, really, really great players and I'm really excited to see what they do with the music."

Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions will be performed at 7:30 PM on Thursday, September 17th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Tickets are available HERE.

 

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