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Festival of the Arts wraps with video game-themed concert

Members of the FSU Symphony Band, FSU West Central Concert Band and FSU West Central Chamber Orchestra perform a video game-inspired concert. Photo by: Odette Lopez | Torch Photographer

For more photos of the event, click here!

The Big Rapids Festival of the Arts closed with two loves of Ferris students—music and video games.

The 2017 Festival of the Arts concluded Sunday, Feb. 26, by the FSU Symphony Band, FSU West Central Concert Band and FSU West Central Chamber Orchestra.

The concert was produced and conducted by Ferris Professor of Music Dr. Richard Scott Cohen. Two guest conductors assisted Cohen during the concert: Spanish conductor Adrián Ronda-Sampayo and Ferris Assistant Professor of Music Dale Skornia.

“The project is called Games and Symphonies and it just got started last year and the first concert was tonight,” Cohen said.

Cohen extended the invitation and helped make it possible for Ronda-Sampayo to come to Big Rapids and conduct during the Festival of The Arts. Ronda-Sampayo specializes in conducting video game and Spanish themed music.

“I have a project of video games music in Spain,” Ronda-Sampayo said.

Cohen believes the Festival of the Arts is extremely important for the Big Rapids Community.

“This engages people of all ages into all kinds of arts all over the town. It can be here on campus or anywhere else in the community,” Cohen said.

Dr. Cohen is a founding member of the board for The Festival of the Arts and has coordinated all the concerts in the festival’s 10-year existence.

Twelve different numbers were performed during the concert, eight of which were themes of video games. Numbers performed included scores from Super Mario Galaxy, Advent Rising, Minecraft, Civilization IV, Halo, World of Warcraft, Skyrim and Pokémon Go. Video clips of each game accompanied each number.

Ferris pre-pharmacy freshman Jack Spicer, who plays second trumpet in the Symphony Band and WCC Concert Band, said playing the theme from Halo Suite was his favorite.

“I could tell people got scared during the opening timpani because it was loud and powerful,” Spicer said. “The song transitions into a softer part with a trumpet duet, before it builds up to the giant piece that it truly is. It was a great piece to play and everybody loves it because it’s Halo and Halo is famous for its soundtrack.”

While the concert was a great success, the performers did face challenges to mastering the set, notably the intro to the World of Warcraft.

“The beginning is very confusing with the time signatures,” Spicer said. “We were constantly switching between time signatures. We have to watch the conductor which is challenging because he is not only moving fast, but switching fast, too.”

Spicer noted that he liked the choice of video game themed music for this year’s winter orchestra and band concert. He felt that our generation does not appreciate band and orchestra like generations prior, so picking this genre would engage students and draw them to the concert.

Ferris elementary education sophomore James Kilgore attended the concert in support of a friend, and walked away pleasantly pleased with the performance.

“I gained insight on the making of music for these video games. I always hear the music to games but never have seen them performed lived. So that was a cool thing to see,” Kilgore said.