The Videri String Quartet on Top Score

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
October 17, 2013
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Videri String Quartet is a typical string quartet — with a twist. Although each member of the ensemble is classically trained, the group chooses to exclusively play video game music.

Violist Roselie Samter believes the quartet's stakes are higher because of their chosen repertoire.

Samter founded the quartet in March of 2012, after playing with the Video Game Orchestra in Boston. It was her first exposure to video game music.

"At the time, I was going to the Boston Conservatory and I was extremely classically oriented — like that's what I thought I was gonna do for the rest of my life. When I was playing for the Video Game orchestra, I realized that people love video game music. There's this huge connection that you have with people when you play something from their childhood that you don't have with most people when you play classical music."

Aubrey Holmes plays violin in the quartet.

"We decided that we weren't gonna have any gimmicks either, it was just gonna be acoustic — a straight up classical string quartet."

Samter spends a lot of time tracking down music online.

"I've done a lot of research, and I found two other quartets that cover video game music. Two! In the whole of like, all of YouTube."

"The push is to produce the highest quality music we possibly can and to get it right up there with the classical string quartets that are out there today, and I know that's a huge thing to say, because the level of playing currently is unreal."

The Videri Quartet used Kickstarter to raise funds for their new album, Portals. One day, Samter received an email.

"It's this guy who writes with a lot of capital letters and tons of exclamation points, and he's like, 'Hey, I just saw your Kickstarter, and I really like it, and you should arrange some of my music.'"

It turns out that the message was from Austin Wintory, whose score for the game Journey was the first video game soundtrack to receive a Grammy nomination.

"So I looked into it, and I was like, whoa, this is really good."

I asked Samter and Holmes which composers they wished could have written video game music.

Holmes chose Franz Joseph Haydn.

"He's absolutely hilarious. He would have a field day. He would know how to write thematically for every type of situation."

Samter thinks Hector Berlioz would write an amazing score.

Hear the Videri String Quartet's music on the new episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also on iTunes.

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