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Des Moines Gamer Symphony Orchestra returns for new concert

Sunday marks the group's first performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Video games are becoming a more and more popular hobby. One group of gamers is taking their passion to the stage, but their instruments are not made of plastic.

Video game music might be a foreign genre to a lot of people. But for fans who have been rescuing princesses or saving the world for years, the soundtracks really stick out. 

Aaron Barker, the head of the Des Moines Gamer Symphony Orchestra, realized this when he heard "One Winged Angel" while playing Final Fantasy 7. 

"When I saw that orchestra performing and the power of that piece, my heart just fluttered," Barker said. "And I just knew that this is something I had to participate in somehow."

Barker first heard a video game symphony perform at the University of Maryland when he was in college. The idea for how he could bring that show back home to Iowa grew from there.

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Now, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gamer symphony is performing in-person again. Their concert will be on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Jamie Hurd Amphitheater in West Des Moines. 

The concert is free and open to the public, and will be the orchestra's first time working with an outdoor space.

"Such a big part of it is the sound of the ensemble and how the sound moves through the space. In an outdoor amphitheater, it's built to have concerts, which is going to be awesome, but it's going to be something completely new for us," said Jennifer Walter, the symphony's vice president.

And even if you aren't a gamer, the performers are confident you will find something to enjoy. 

"If you have ever heard any kind of symphony orchestra music in the past and enjoyed it a little bit, you're going really enjoy these concerts because the music is just supposed to be enjoyable," said Seth Hartman, a trumpet player and audio engineer.

The Des Moines Gamer Symphony Orchestra is now an official state nonprofit.

Barker told Local 5 he is looking to partner with local charities to help with fundraising efforts in the future.

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