Music in games is a beautiful thing, all thanks to the beautiful people who write it. If you’re heading to PAX East this April, you can come hear from a handful of the best.

The “Maestros of Video Games” composer panel includes Garry Schyman, Peter McConnell, Cris Velasco, Tom Salta, Mark Morgan and Billy Martin.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these fine gentlemen, I offer an audio introduction from their most recent (available) music.

Garry Schyman is, more or less, sweeping Score of the Year from 2013’s BioShock Infinite. I feel genuinely sorry for any composer who had to ‘compete’ with that score last year, given its perfection, and I do not use that word lightly. There were so many fantastic scores last year – so many! But there was only one BioShock Infinite score. Anyway, here’s a track: Elizabeth’s Theme.


Peter McConnell has an incredible new score out for Broken Age. Peter needed to score two worlds – a terrestrial world, and one in outer space. He does both with style, as always; his music = cool. He’s like the coolest cat on the planet. To hear his skills strictly acoustic, check out Vela Wakes. If you’d like to hear how he handles outer space, listen to the magnificent blend of synths and strings in Shay’s Secret Mission.

I adored Cris Velasco’s score to last year’s Company of Heroes 2. The main theme is absolutely gorgeous, fraught with emotion, and evocative of the Russian landscape he was faced with scoring. He worked with the Capellan Orchestra and Choir, as well as violinist Nicole Garcia and cellist Cameron Stone. It’s fantastic orchestral writing, rich and full, and Cris’s classical training shines through. Here’s the Main Theme.


Available on!

I first learned of Tom Salta when From Dust came out. Loved that main theme. I was further impressed by his score for 2013’s mobile Halo: Spartan Assault. The trick for Tom was to write a score inspired by Halo that wasn’t ripping off O’Donnell or Salvatori, and he did an incredible job. In order to refer to the Halo universe, he used a choir, but added women and children’s voices to the mix. I encourage you to listen to the first 3.5 minutes or so of the score.

Mark Morgan? I think he’s a wizard – totally a wizard. And the music for the upcoming Wasteland 2 is sonic magic. It helps that Mark established the sound for the first two Fallout games, which are successors of sorts to the original Wasteland. Mark’s music takes you far into whichever world he’s scoring. If you didn’t know what Wasteland 2 was about, you might have a better idea after you listen to this track. His music sounds so open – it’s impressive.

And who doesn’t love the work Billy Martin and Christophe Heral did for Rayman Legends? This is some of the cleverest writing, complete with whistling. It is fantastic music, telling a story all its own. I hear the influence of Carl Stalling, Richard Wagner, Leonard Bernstein – all great narrative composers. I’ll give you two songs for these two fellas, even if Christophe can’t make it to Boston. Here’s the Enchanted Forest, with a side of Mysterious Swamps.


It’ll be a delight to speak with them, and I hope you’re able to come hear the panel. You’ll get some free music out of the deal, and you can meet everyone after our discussion. Including me, since I’m hosting the panel. I look forward to seeing you there!!

Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.