British Columbia

Pokemon goes classical as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra covers the popular series

Piccolo meets Pikachu as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra plays a special night of music featuring the popular melodies of the Japanese anime series.

The melodies in the 20-year franchise are timeless, says conductor Susie Benchasil Seiter

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is performing the Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions tonight. (pokemon.com)

One of the most popular children's television program is getting a highbrow, classical makeover tonight. The Vancouver Orchestra is performing a live repertoire of famous songs from the Pokemon video game franchise.

Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions will feature over 20 songs from the series, many of which are classics for fans of the Japanese show.

"The melodies are timeless. Pokemon's been going on for 20 years and so the melodies have all been orchestrated into symphonic pieces," Susie Benchasil Seiter, the show's conductor told the Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Seiter says the show is incredibly unique to traditional symphonic performances not because of the sound - which she says translates surprisingly well - but because of who the shows audiences are.

"There are families where parents are regular symphony goers and they bring their children. And we have a lot of young people that have never been to the symphony and might be intimidated to go [but] because of the very approachable, familiar subject they're in the concert hall for the first time and loving it."

She says another distinct difference with the Pokemon show is the fact that the performances are often met with enthusiastic audience interactions, another rarity in the world of orchestras. 

Jeron Moore, the shows creative director and Susie Benchasil Seiter, the program's director. (Charlie Cho)

"I've conducted in concert halls that are a little more traditional and I enjoy the anarchy that happens in Pokemon Symphonic evolutions because I encourage [the young audience] to cheer and react."

A special night for the performers

The program was created by the show's creative director, Jeron Moore who says his own personal interest in the popular Japanese franchise sparked the initial idea.

"I just kind of had a funny idea and was really excited about it. We put together a pitch and brought it to the Pokemon company international and have had a blast collaborating closely with them to bring it to life.

"Growing up, I poured so many hours into these games and got invested into the characters and the stories that you spend so much time with. The music becomes a part of the experience and sometimes the music is your only way back to those moments in your memory."

Seiter says the production is also a uniquely special time for the performers.

My favourite part is the piece Gotta Catch 'Em All which is one of our finales. [The musicians] light up because they've never heard 4,000 people singing along in the concert hall and it's delightful.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Pokemon: Symphony Evolution in Vancouver.

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