ENTERTAINMENT

Local musicians play video game tunes

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Move over Mozart and Beethoven -- it's time for Zelda and Mario!

The soundtracks to the video games we grew up with are now singing a new tune. Once a week, a group of musicians meets at Rockville High School to bring a unique style of music to life.

"A lot of people think of video game music as Mario music or beeps and boops," said Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra singer Ayla Hurley.

However you describe it, the sounds hit a high note among WMGSO artists who play and sing video game music.

"There's certainly a nostalgic component to it...and those of us who are playing it, the music's great regardless of whether or not you know where the games are from," said WMGSO musician Rob Garner.

It all started at the University of Maryland in 2005. After graduation, it wasn't game over for everyone, in fact many people wanted to keep the group alive and continue to play.

And so they did, inviting the local community to take part last year. The open call attracted some top talent.

The orchestra is led by conductor and UK native Nigel Horne, who has more than 40 years of musical experience:

"I came a few thousand miles across the ocean. I don't know anybody. You speak this peculiar language over here, and yet instantly I can get to know people because that's the great thing about a hobby," said Horne.

The 44-member ensemble is made up of people with varying musical skills, and everyone has a day job.  But united by a common interest, they work in harmony with instruments, a choir, and a team of arrangers to translate the music.

"A lot of video game music in the past 10 years is already orchestrated," said Hurley.

WMGSO is now practicing toward a summer concert. A free, open-house rehearsal is scheduled for February 27. Instrumentalists and singers over 18 are encouraged to attend.

If you're interested in learning more about this group, visit: http://www.wmgso.org/

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