West Michigan Symphony opens season celebrating on-screen Heroes and Villains

West Michigan Symphony opens its 2016-17 season with a concert that features music from popular motion picture scores and a new composition based on the popular video game, “Assassin’s Creed, Syndicate.”

Dubbed Heroes and Villains, the Sept. 30 concert celebrates the dark and bright side of storytelling via the soundtracks that accompany good and evil on-screen characters. The orchestra, led by Music Director Scott Speck, will fill the Frauenthal theater with sounds both sinister and sweet as it plays music from films such as “Rocky,” “King Kong,” “Braveheart,” “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and more.

Also featured will be a work titled “Assassin Dances” by Austin Wintory, the award-winning composer of various video games including the popular “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. This work will kick off Wintory’s three-year composer-in-residence with the symphony.

When asked to create a soundtrack for the game Assassin’s Creed, Syndicate, Wintory mused “what I essentially pitched was this chamber music approach that relied on a nonet of strings…written in a chamber ensemble configuration…with none of the glitz of the more Hollywood sounding production.

On the top of that, the game was going to revolve around dancing, particularly waltzes. Because you play these characters that are martial arts ninjas, so to them combat is effortless.” So Austin queried “What if every time [the video game characters] got into a fight, it breaks into this almost quasi-19th century waltz for chamber strings?” The idea was a hit, so Austin “…had a lot of fun writing mountains and mountains of waltzes.”

The music that Wintory ultimately created featured virtuoso violinist Sandy Cameron, when he was approached to partner with the symphony he thought “I really had so much fun writing these macabre devilish waltzes for Sandy, what if I was to extract some of that DNA from that score and blow it up into kind of a single movement, almost like a fantasia for violin and orchestra for Sandy and the WMS?”

That recipe, which Austin describes as “taking things that are in independent orbits from one another and finding ways to smash them together” is what will be cooked up in “Assassin Dances,” featuring guest violinist Sandy Cameron.

Tickets start $23, with $10 tickets for students. The performance is Friday Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon. Tickets can be purchased by calling the WMS box office at 231.726.3231 x223, in person at 360 W. Western Avenue or online at westmichigansymphony.org.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts