Photo by Sara Golonka
Classical California’s Jennifer Miller Hammel proudly introduces our recently-released stream Arcade in an interview feature with The New York Times – first online, with a print version to follow. With the title “Debussy and Final Fantasy Are Peers on This Radio Stream,” it tells the story of how her twin lifelong loves of classical music and video games led her to propose the stream, because they have more in common than either fanbase might suppose. Her background made her the ideal person to both curate and host the stream, which intermingles classical works that have been used in games with contemporary scores written specifically for the world (or worlds) of gaming.
She says in profile: “Our big mission statement is ‘nurturing a love of classical music for all,’ and I take that ‘for all’ portion of the statement quite literally. I was really happy when I was given the green light to put this together because I feel like in classical music, there’s sort of a gate-keeping mentality that it has to stay a certain way. When Classical California said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do this,’ I was like, ‘Great, we’re being brave or being bold or trying to be pioneers in this field and really reaching out to that younger demographic.’ But at the same time educating our older demographic on this other kind of music. I think when they think video game music, they think it’s loud or it’s synthesized and there’s lots of rock and guitars. And, yes, that does exist. But there’s so much music out there that sounds just like what you would hear from Brahms or Schubert.”
The stream includes a 12-hour collection of works that can serve as an introduction, helping to do away with some of the preconceptions gamers might have about classical music and vice versa.
“The big thing I want everyone to take away from this is that there are no borders here: Good music is good music,” Jennifer says. “And for me, if a piece of music makes me feel something, if it tells me a story, then I’m glad I’ve heard it. I really want to dispel that idea for our older crowd that game music is dumb. I think they think that it’s written by composers who are less than, composers who were not educated — that it’s dumb, simple, bleep-bloop music.”
She describes a moment when music within the world of a game made her stop in her (virtual) tracks: “I remember the first time I played Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which is a fantastic indie game from the Chinese Room. It’s what they call a walking simulator, where you’re just walking around gathering evidence, reading journals, reading letters and trying to piece together a story. You’re in the middle of this deserted British village. You have no idea what’s happened; it’s like everybody just got up and walked away. And I’m walking through the town and all of a sudden I hear this soprano just start singing. And all of a sudden this choir comes in. In the game, I just had to stop what I was doing and stand in this field, and just listen to this music. I just remember thinking, ‘Who wrote this?’ And then I started going down the rabbit hole of [composer] Jessica Curry. Her music does something to your heart when you hear it. It shatters you. Her choral music is up there with some of the great modern choral composers like Morten Lauridsen and Ola Gjeilo. And I’m so happy to be able to introduce her stuff to a broader audience.”Listen to the Arcade Web Stream