Earlier this year, I got a chance to interview Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri at one of the rehearsals for his concert with the Video Game Orchestra at Symphony Hall, where he conducted his suites for Forest Gump and Back to the Future.
The sold-out performance also included appearances by other accomplished film and television composers, many of whom are from the Berklee fold, including Gold Knight winner and almnus, Lucas Vidal, and Emmy-winner, and Chair of Berklee’s Film Scoring department, Daniel Carlin.
Founded by Berklee alumnus Shota Nakama in 2008, the Video Game Orchestra is the first and only New England based orchestra that focuses on showcasing interactive media compositions and is comprised of graduates from Boston-area conservatories, including Berklee College of Music. The breadth of music represented at the concert was not simply confined to artists with Berklee ties, however, as the second half of the concert highlighted the best in video game music, including Wataru Hokoyama’s suite from Afrika (who flew into Boston to conduct his suite live at the concert), Yasunori Mitsuda’s suite from Chrono Cross, and Nobuo Uematsu’s infamous suite for Final Fantasy VII. Given the huge turn-out and incredibly enthusiastic response from the audience, I sincerely hope producing a concert that celebrates the work of film and video game composers becomes an annual event [to see more photographs from the rehearsal, scroll to the bottom of this post].
Although getting to speak with Alan Silvestri and watch him conduct his iconic scores was thrilling, Silvestri’s clinic exclusively for Berklee students in the Berklee Performance Center was probably the most inspiring experience of my Berklee career.
In his clinic, Silvestri talked a great deal about the struggles he faced early in his career and how inadequate he felt even being at Berklee. All of Silvestri’s words rang so true to my experience at Berklee 30 years later being surrounded by so many world-class musicians. And yet, Alan Silvestri is just that – the legendary Alan Silvestri! He’s led an illustrious career and composed many a genius score, so knowing that he felt the same discouragement walking the halls of the Berklee practice rooms, including hearing a young Abe Laboriel, gave me so much validation and encouragement for the kind of sinking feeling I suffer from listening to my fellow students in the practice rooms now. And hearing Silvestri share the lowest and most vulnerable times in his early career in Los Angeles, including how he even went so far as to quit music entirely, so inspired me to keep following my passion despite my short-comings or set-backs.
– Elisa Rice
P.S. If you, like me, can’t get enough of Alan Silvestri, don’t forget to check out his latest film, Captain America!