Games in Music: Behind the Scenes with composer and UBC alum Antony Knight

Composers Antony Knight (BMus ’22) and Gabriella Yorke (BMus ’23) talk about their role in arranging medleys for the upcoming concert Games in Music: Halo, WoW, LOTR.

On Friday November 4th guest conductor Lucas Waldin leads the UBC Symphony Orchestra and UBC A Cappella in a night of new and classic video game soundtracks. The concert premieres two exciting orchestral video game scores, Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between arranged by alumnus Antony Knight (BMus ’22) and Celeste arranged by composition student Gabriella Yorke (BMus ’23).

Join us for the premieres of these incredible arrangements at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Other highlights include the epic sounds of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and VR immersive artist Juliana Loh painting the scores of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings live.

Tickets and details for Games in Music are available on the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts website

UBC School of Music student, Felix Rowe, sat down with the two composers, starting with Antony Knight below, to learn more about their process in arranging the music for the concert.

Read the edited transcript of the video below.

Felix: Can you tell me about your inspiration to start composition?

Antony: I always wrote music growing up, singer/songwriter stuff, and had a bit of inspiration to do that, but I never gave it much thought. I was a performer: a singer, an actor, and a stage performer. My big inspiration came from going to UBC to study opera and being in the music program. Music history and theory and all these courses opened my eyes to the possibilities of what music can do. I realized that I wanted to take more of a writing route rather than only performing. So, halfway through my degree, I started a double major in composition, and I’ve been steeped in composition ever since.

Felix: Let’s talk more about this upcoming concert. What is your role in the concert?

Antony: I took six to eight tracks from the video game that are this pop, electronic, and meditative music. I combined these tracks together into a medley of sorts. I was writing for an orchestra which was a challenge in itself: the orchestral sound and the sound of the game are very different. That was my role: I got these tracks and put together this medley for orchestra.

Felix: How did you translate the difference in scoring? How were you able to translate the melodies into the orchestral textures and colours?

Antony: It was a lot of experimentation. I had challenges to overcome in that regard. Do I try to emulate the sound? Or, do I take the track and the sound that it has and inspire an orchestral sound out of it? I chose the latter. I think it worked well. Rather than trying to imitate the sound of the original score, my piece is inspired by the songs, containing lots of key melodies and motifs of the game.

Felix: I’m not familiar with this game. Can you tell me about Glitchhikers?

Antony: It’s called Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between. This is the second iteration of the original game called Glitchhikers. It’s a meditative game where there is no objective. You’re a character that is on a journey and you don’t know what that journey is. Along the way, you meet people who talk to you about life and philosophy. It puts you in a state of calmness, reflectiveness, and contemplative thought. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Felix: As an audience member attending the show, what should I be looking forward to?

Antony: The program is filled with popular, recognizable, epic music that everyone will know, like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. The music for the concert is written by some of the best composers of our time. John Williams, amazing orchestrator. You’re going to hear some amazingly orchestrated music. Howard Shore, Lord of the Rings. Michael Giacchino, who wrote the music from Tron. Everybody knows who Michael Giacchino is even if they don’t know his name. He’s one of my favourites. It’s going to be an extremely exciting concert. There’s not going to be a dull moment. It’s going to keep getting better throughout the evening. Just a concert full of bangers!

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Next Felix talks to composition student Gabriella Yorke to learn about her process in arranging Celeste for this concert.