Music from independent video games will take the stage this weekend as the Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra and Choir performs the second show of their winter 2022 program, “Oops, All Indies.”
The BGSO, which premiered its winter show Dec. 2 at the Sollers Point Multipurpose Center, will perform again Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Baltimore War Memorial. The event is free, all-ages, and will feature a themed raffle to support the orchestra.
The “Oops, All Indies!” show features music exclusively from independently-published games, such as Undertale, Stardew Valley, and Myst.
Robert Glass, BSGO choir member and outreach coordinator, said music from independent games “is really exciting to play because independent game developers do whatever they want to do.”
The BGSO has built past programs around themes like handheld games and games developed in Maryland.
For the winter program, the group wanted to shine a light on the music that helps bring indie games to life.
Indie video games are typically developed by smaller teams than larger game development companies, which means indie developers can have a closer influence on the game’s music.
“Soundtracks of indie games are made by the person who developed the game,” said Carrie Wood, bass guitarist and chair of BGSO’s media committee.
Many of the pieces in the “Oops, All Indies!” show were arranged by the orchestra members themselves, such as conductor Tad Howley’s wife Tara Jade, who arranged a piece from the game Outer Wilds.
Gamer symphony orchestras have become a widespread phenomenon over the past few years.
“There’s gamer symphony orchestras all over the country, all over the world,” Howley said. “Most of them can trace their inspiration for starting back to the University of Maryland GSO,”
Kira Levitzky, who played for the UMD BGSO when she was a student there, founded the BGSO in 2013. The Baltimore group is an all-volunteer, non-profit community orchestra and choir that performs orchestral arrangements of video game music. It is a member program of the Turner Station Recreation Council and a part of the Baltimore County Recreation and Parks Department.
The BGSO is also a non-auditioning orchestra and choir, welcoming all musical skill levels and backgrounds. Members do not even need to be gamers to join.
Both the orchestra and the choir rehearse on Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. at Sollers Point Multipurpose Center in Dundalk. In addition to concerts, BGSO provides musical learning opportunities in Baltimore. They have worked with organizations like Baltimore City Schools, Gamescape at Artscape, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and Freefall Baltimore.
Currently, they have about 65 members. Individuals interested in joining can fill out a form on the BGSO’s website.
For Howley, conducting is like teaching.
“Figuring out how to approach teaching differently depending on the person you’re talking to,” he said. “I find myself drawing from my experience as a music educator.”