Winter Is Coming

The Game of Thrones concert experience comes to Gila River Arena on September 12. (Photo by Ralph Larmann)

‘Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience’ highlights music of Westeros

By Laura Latzko

In the HBO series Game of Thrones, the music not only helps drive the plot but tells the characters’ stories. Behind the scenes, composer Ramin Djawadi creates the soundtrack to add drama and evoke emotion during pivotal scenes in the show.

Arizona audiences can experience the show’s music live September 12 as part of the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. During the musical showcase, Djawadi acts as conductor, leading the choir and orchestra.

The concert experience is in the second leg of its national tour. The show started in the United States in February 2017 and visited Europe in May.

Based on the books of George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones recently finished its seventh season. The TV show follows families as they fight for titles and control of lands on the fictitious continents of Westeros and Essos.

The live experience combines music and video footage from the seven seasons of the show, along with special effects such as pyrotechnics.

Djawadi wanted to transport audiences to another world, where dragons, white walkers and long winters exist.

“When they come out, they really feel like they are in Westeros. I wanted to create this whole experience,” Djawadi says.

It took Djawadi and his team three years to develop the live show. He says narrowing down the music was the biggest challenge.

“When I chose the pieces I wanted to perform, I had way too much music. So, I had to pick the right pieces, to do the right storytelling,” Djawadi says.

The concert highlights music from pivotal scenes in the show, such as the Red Wedding and the explosion of the Great Sept of Baelor, as well as themes used for different characters and houses.

Similar to the TV show, the cello is one of the featured instruments in the live experience.

“The cello is definitely one of the most dominant, or maybe the dominant instrument, at the (live) show just because I thought it captured the mood of the show overall, that dark sound that the cello can have,” Djawadi says.

The concert also showcases other instruments from the TV show, including the violin, flute and duduk.

“I think it’s fun for the audience to see some of these instruments they’ve heard on the show for so long. You get to see what they look like. Seeing it live, performed by the musician, just takes it to another level,” Djawadi says.

The show is meant for avid fans as well as series newcomers.

The idea for the series of concerts came from a conversation with show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Also a composer for the TV shows Westworld and Prison Break and the film Iron Man, Djawadi works closely with the Game of Thrones creators to develop music for the show.

Djawadi says the music is almost like another character in the show.

“It becomes a very powerful tool of storytelling and in leading the audiences in whatever direction you want to lead. With emotional music, you can enhance a certain scene, or on a chase scene, you can make it more dramatic,” Djawadi says.

Although he has done one-time concerts, being in front of an audience for a concert series has been a new experience for Djawadi.

“I think the biggest thing for me is actually just to have that connection to the audience right there and then, when we perform the music, and really see their reaction,” Djawadi says.