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Pokémon symphony comes to life at Heinz Hall

Community Voices

Video games and symphony came together on Saturday for Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions at Heinz Hall. Princeton Entertainment and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra showcased music from the “Pokémon” series beginning with “Red” and “Green” for the original GameBoy, and working through each generation to “X” and “Y” for the 3DS.
The audience was a enthusiastic mix of young children and grown adults, many of whom were dressed in clothing expressing their love for the Nintendo series. It was a rare experience to behold, as fan-favorite songs from the series were performed onstage and were received with uproarious applause. Like the Symphony of the Goddesses shows, the music was accompanied by game footage projected on-screen above the orchestra. The combination resulted in a one-of-a-kind show for game fans.
The Pokemon theme acted as the overture to start the show, which borrowed from music in each title. Act 1 consisted of songs from “Red” and “Blue” through “Diamond,” “Pearl” and “Platinum.” Most of Act 1 contained land and battle music. Fans of the series undoubtedly recognized tunes from levels like Pallet Town, Ecruteak City and The Lake Guardians. Act 2 introduced a tonal shift by focusing on many of the emotional songs from the later games in the series. “The Day I Became King” and “Farewell” from “Black” and “White” counterbalanced the high-energy battle tunes of Act 1.
Separating the tone from Symphony of the Goddesses, Symphonic Evolutions worked in electronic overlays to accompany the orchestral arrangements. The compositions remained dominated by the music played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, but the synth sounds created a modernized sound that blended well with the video game source material.
The encore provided the biggest treat and the loudest response of the show: an orchestral arrangement of the “Pokémon” television show theme song, with sing-along words for audience participation. Heinz Hall erupted in elated unison. 
According to producer Jeron Moore and Composer Chad Seiter, it was always the plan to tackle Pokémon after the Zelda: Second Quest tour. The seven-month process to get a show of this nature off the ground began around the time the Zelda tour was winding down. “Pokémon always felt like a good direction following Zelda [Symphony of the Goddesses], said Mr. Moore. “It was a franchise that was never paid much attention to in this regard. We saw there was a lot of potential there.”
As for future plans for Symphonic Evolutions, there are no definites yet. The team gets plenty of fan requests for future shows. A second run of Pokémon similar to Zelda’s second tour seems likely. If the tour’s early stop in Pittsburgh is any indication, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions is a must see for any fan of the series.
Read the rest of the review here