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Games music goes mainstream: video game soundtracks get their dues as part of London’s first ever Soundtrack Festival

Star Wars, Baldur’s Gate 3, Death Stranding, and Metal Gear Solid among the games to be celebrated in London’s inaugural soundtrack festival in March 2025.

Header image for London Soundtrack Festival, with dates 19-26 March
Image credit: VG247/London Soundtrack Festival

You may think it odd, dedicating a festival to live music that isn’t, really, designed to be played live. Video game, film, and TV music, by definition, is designed to be recorded under very strict conditions, and played back at you with even more severe restrictions. You may get to hear a little bit of Borislav Slavov’s score for Baldur’s Gate 3 during a battle that you finish up in seconds, for instance. You may never get to hear some of the tracks made for the game at all, even, depending on your choices. Such is the format, such is the lot of a games composer.

But that’s all part of the fascination for Tommy Pearson, the concert producer and curator of London’s first-ever Soundtrack Festival. “The visceral feeling, the gut feeling you have, when you’re in the same room as an orchestra is so important to what this festival is,” he says in a speech announcing the festival at London’s BFI Southbank. “Even for music that isn’t designed to be played live, you can’t argue with the impact of hearing it performed by exceptional artists.”

And whilst a lot of the festival is dedicated to film and TV (as you’d expect; they’re much more mainstream-focused, after all), it’s encouraging and invigorating to see video game music represented so well as part of this inaugural soundtrack festival.

Running from March 19 to March 26, 2025, the capital’s premier festival dedicated to celebrating film, TV and game music will consist of live performances, panel discussions, screenings, Q&As, and masterclasses.

For game music buffs, there will be a massive celebration at the Roundhouse (London’s best venue, in my humble opinion) called ‘Game Music: State of the Art’. This event will include masterclasses from Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab – Grammy and Ivor-award winning composers, both, who recently collected a suite of awards for their work on Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

Joining this duo is Ludvig Forssell (Death Stranding), Harry Gregson-Williams (Metal Gear Solid), and Borislav Slavov (Baldur’s Gate 3 – who I recently had the pleasure of interviewing over on The Guardian). These three will be holding demos, and will be part of a panel discussing game music, and why it’s so important in 2025.

Tickets to the festival go on sale in September 2024. For full details of the programme, visit the festival's official website or follow the festival on socials at @LDNSoundtrack.

Tommy Pearson announces the London Soundtrack Festival.
Tommy Pearson announces the London Soundtrack Festival. | Image credit: London Soundtrack Festival

“It’s really exciting to be bringing this brand-new festival to London – the film, TV, and games music capital of the world – and to celebrate the greatest composers working today who create the soundtrack to our lives,” says Pearson. “For me, it’s the culmination of a lifetime’s love of TV and film music; a chance to give audiences young and old (and everyone in-between) world-class performances, fascinating masterclasses, screenings, and more.”

After recently attending a sold-out show of Elden Ring music at the Royal Albert Hall, and checking out the phenomenal Game Music Festival (that celebrated Baldur’s Gate 3 and The Last of Us at the Southbank Center), I cannot understate how important this sort of announcement is.

Game music is becoming ever more important to both musicians and mainstream audiences around the world; during Pearson’s presentation, he noted that TV and film music accounts for roughly 30% of touring orchestras seasonal output – an essential revenue stream that allows them to continue doing what they do.

Currently, video game concerts make up 11% of all concerts in the UK since 2016. That is a wild stat, in my opinion. Soon game music will be as important as film and TV, too – just search ‘live video game music show near me’ and you’ll see how popular a format it is. Appreciation for the form is at an all-time high.

So to see Pearson make such a commitment to games music as part of a festival program that could have so easily just focused on film and TV is reassuring. It shows video game music is being treated with the respect and reverence it deserves, and that things are only going to be bigger, and brighter, from here.

And, I’m reliably informed, this is just the beginning. There will be more events announced in the coming weeks and months. Keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re not a London local, maybe start looking up travel and accommodation for March 2025.

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