Skyrim in Concert
Five years ago, November saw the release of the fifth entry in the famed fantasy series, The Elder Scrolls. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brought RPG lovers dragon attacks, gravity defying horses and loooong walks up mountains.
Fast-forward to 2016, and the player-created content that made Skyrim on PC so newsworthy and ever-changing has landed on consoles for the first time. Console mod support is still a hugely novel feature, and the launch of Skyrim Special Edition has enabled those without a gaming PC to download custom content, enriching this immersive experience even further with player-created areas, characters, tweaks and gameplay overhauls.
Yet one element of Skyrim that needed no improvement was its striking soundtrack, composed by the mind behind the previous two TES titles and over sixty video games in total. Jeremy Soule has been described as the “John Williams of video game music”, and it’s easy to see why. Skyrim’s score is a moving mixture of sound that brims with ambience and peace, whilst also making dramatic moments in the game feel even more epic.
For the first time, the music of Skyrim was brought alive for its fans thanks to the Winterhold Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, whom performed at the London Palladium on Wednesday 16 November. Yes, that was five days ago. Yes, I’ve been too busy with Thieves Guild heists to put this article together sooner.
Hearing Jeremy Soule’s score performed live makes you want to dive headfirst back into that world. Unfortunately, the talented composer was not affiliated with the concert, and did not approve its showcase of his work. I can only hope Mr. Soule does not discredit Skyrim lovers for wanting to experience his music first hand.
For the night was absolutely worth that forty quid ticket; the orchestra, presumably celebrating the fact that Skyrim’s soundtrack has never been performed live before, threw in so many tributes that made the audience cheer in excitement. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was revisited, with a medley of tracks from the instalment. A greater surprise was the return to Morrowind, the third game in the series, released way back in 2002! The overarching style of music that was adopted in each game is palpable, and hearing the always fantastic TES main song performed live in the fashion of each Tamriel region was wondrous.
I was thrilled to hear the most tranquil songs performed, as those ignite treasured memories of quietly exploring The Rift’s wilderness or riding the hilly road to Ivarstead.
The orchestra performed the beautiful ‘Far Horizons’, as well as one my personal favourites, ‘The Streets of Whiterun’ (my video game home!). I’d consider their renditions of Skyrim’s most peaceful melodies to have been the most impressive; I’m sure there was more than one leaky eye in the room.
What better way to round off such a moving night than with ‘One They Fear’, a track that combines the best of the game’s combat music with the hearty chant of Skyrim’s Nords. After introducing the song with an audience-wide ‘Fus Ro Dah’ Dragonshout, the Winterhold Orchestra and its Nord-inspired choir reminded us just how heroic Skyrim’s sound is, and how much Jeremy Soule’s genius aided this game’s significance.