Celebrating Geek Culture With the San Diego Symphony

Chad Seiter. (Photo by Stephanie Danna).

Chad Seiter. (Photo by Stephanie Danna).

This week, the San Diego Symphony will be presenting a couple of events in honor of Comic-Con International. On Thursday, Embarcadero Marina Park South is going to be turned into a video game paradise for the concert, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions.

In the evening, music from different video game installments, including “Pokémon Yellow,” “Pokémon Emerald” and “Pokémon Platinum,” will be played as visuals from the games are displayed on an outdoor projector.

Composer, Chad Seiter, always had a soft spot for the popular franchise. “I grew up playing the games. I am a gigantic role-playing game nerd. I also watched the anime series with my grandma growing up, and it has always been a big part of my life.”

Seiter hints that the night could have a treat or two for fans of the television show and the feature films. “We have some surprises is what we like to say. It requires the audience to sing along.”

Although Seiter has difficulty choosing a number one piece that he helped compose for the concert, there are still a few that stand out to him. “We have a really cool piece in the program called ‘The Lake Guardians’ which is one of my favorites to arrange. Another that I love is the finale, which is based on the music from ‘Pokémon X and Y.”

During Saturday night, Seiter’s mentor, Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino, is going to watch his score to “Star Trek: Into Darkness” be performed live by the Symphony orchestra. Giacchino has visited Comic-Con many times in the past and saw the Symphony perform the score to “Star Trek” at the embarcadero. “I always have a lot of fun. It is a beautiful outdoor space. I mean, the event is in San Diego. There’s nothing better than that.”

Even though Giacchino is not going to be onstage with the artists, he still is giving input prior to the screening. “I will be there with conductor, David Newman, and there are some rehearsals left to go. I just have to make sure everything is perfect. Those players were great last year. We had such a fun time together.”

As a kid, Giacchino enjoyed the original “Star Trek” series. “I had watched reruns growing up and continued to watch them in college as well. I never really watched ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ or any of the other series, but I love the original show. Working on those films was a nice circle to complete in that world. It was fun to explore and take the story in a new direction and hopefully honor what the original series did.”

Michael Giacchino. (Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar).

Michael Giacchino. (Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar).

For the motion picture, Giacchino created a brand new theme that tied into the bond between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). “Star Trek’ is very strange in certain ways. Each of the prior films had their own themes. Nothing really carried over to the next, which also applies to the various series. We wanted to refocus the whole thing and do an original piece, which was very difficult to write.

After a lot of experimenting, Giacchino figured out that the main theme would revolve around camaraderie. In the end, it really became apparent that it was about focusing on the simplest element of the story. The movie is really about two people who become great friends. I wrote 18-19 versions of themes that didn’t work and in the end I thought the film was just about friendship. Producer, Damon Lindelof (Co-producer and co-writer of the sequel) helped suggest that idea. Once we had that discussion, the next thing I wrote was what became the main theme of the tale.”

Giacchino intended to pay tribute to some of the composers of the 1960s action adventure in his score to “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” “I love the music from Alexander Courage and Gerald Fried. I even directly quoted one or two tiny things for the fans. Once again, I try to serve the story and make sure that the references were felt natural to the plot.”

Giacchino hopes people come on Saturday “because it’s a wonderful way to experience a film. I think watching a flick is a terrific communal experience, but watching a movie with an orchestra raises the eve to a whole other level.”

If you go:: Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions plays July 9 and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” plays July 11 at Embarcadero Marina Park South. Tickets are $28-$90 on July 9 and $33-$95 on July 11.

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Embaradero Marina Park
400 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101
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