The 8-Bit Big Band is a 33-member jazz/pops orchestra formed by Charlie Rosen to celebrate and realize some of the best musical themes of various video games from a multitude of consoles and eras. The members of the 8-Bit Big Band come from all around the world, with most residing primarily in New York City, and are some of the most highly sought-after musicians and performers internationally. Many are all gamers at heart who enjoy playing many of the titles whose music they performed.
Recently featured in Forbes Magazine, the 8-Bit Big Band is redefining the concept of the modern big band. Comprised of 33 top musicians (many of which are gamers themselves), Rosen’s extraordinary endeavor celebrates the breadth and richness of music from globally sensational video game franchises like Super Mario Brothers, the Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and more in a way that is spellbinding. They have consistently sold out shows across the United States; most recently, at New York City’s Sony Hall this past January. In October, the 8 Bit Big Band made their first appearance in Boston at the Berklee Performance Center and filled every seat.
Since its inception, the 8-Big Band has become a viral sensation. Their fully produced music videos, regularly uploaded to their YouTube channel, rack up tens to hundreds of thousands of views. Currently, the channel boasts nearly 80,000 subscribers and has garnered over 3M cumulative views in the past year. In May of 2018, the 8-Bit Big Band released its first album, Press Start!, which features the music of the Super Mario series, the Legend of Zelda series, Ganbare Goemon, F-Zero, and Final Fantasy. In June 2019, the band released its second album Choose Your Character, which includes music from Donkey Kong Country, Duck Tales, Sonic The Hedgehog, Pokemon, Portal and more from Super Mario Series, The Legend of Zelda and Tetris.
“As a lifelong gamer who also grew up listening to the best in orchestral and big band music, I see the music of many video games as musically equivalent to other great works of music set to media such as film scores and broadway shows. Many carry the same quality of melody and composition when it comes to quality, scope, and emotional appeal for audiences. The crowd reaction when we play our versions of themes from favorites such as Mario, Tetris, and Legend of Zelda is overwhelming, not just because it’s amazing music on its own, but also because of the strong memories and nostalgia evoked in an audience that played these games throughout childhood. I truly believe that video game music deserves to be included in a ‘New American Songbook,’ just like classic film and Broadway music has been canonized by the Golden Age American Songbook,” Rosen says.
Bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Charlie Rosen has shared the latest video for his 8-Bit Big Band project, with which he performs original arrangements of music from some of the world’s most popular video games. This time, the band he has gathered for this very special user-generated video may be the largest virtual big band ever created, as it features 664 musicians from 40 different countries. Together, the perform a version of “Lifelight” from Super Smash Brothers. Read the full feature here.
"Bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Charlie Rosen has gathered possibly the largest ever virtual band for the latest user-generated video of his 8-Bit Big Band Project."Read the full feature here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
In the two years since the ensembles original inception, it’s become a virtual, viral phenomenon. Their YouTube channel boasts nearly 100,000 viewers. Check it out. Read the full feature here.
Name: Charlie Rosen
What show were you working on when the quarantine started?
I had a few things in the works; my orchestrations could be heard each night in Moulin Rouge on broadway, and I had just finished orchestrating a few musicals which were premiering in NYC or out of town that had their sights set on Broadway for the near future, as well as in the development of some other new shows looking to start their journey to a Broadway theater as well. Read the full feature here.
The 8-Bit Big Band, under the direction of 29-year old multi-talented bandleader/composer Charlie Rosen, is redefining the concept of a modern big band. This 33-piece ensemble specializes in original “big band” arrangements of music from some of the world’s most popular video games – and since its inception, it has become nothing short of a viral sensation. Read it here.
Feature article previews October 2019 show at Berklee Performance Center. Read it here.
THE BOSTON GLOBE
Feature article previews March 2020 performance art Berklee Performance Center. Read it here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ/WICN
"What had been brought together this evening by a deeply gifted young arranger and instrumentalist was a generational team of exceptionally talented musicians, a quality that figured heavily in pulling off this highly creative, immersive, multimedia celebration. " Read full show review here.
"Much in the same way as the madeleines that Proust wrote about so many years ago would involuntarily conjure memories from a single bite, hearing video game melodies takes me back to the safety of my childhood living room floor, to hours spent cross-legged, lost in digital adventures scored to these enduring songs. This is the power of the music of the 8 Bit Big Band, a 35-plus-piece jazz pops orchestra that performs and brings to life these tunes like never before." Full show review here.
DAILY FREE PRESS
"As an ensemble composed of endlessly talented and passionate individuals, the 8-Bit Big Band was able to showcase a shared passion of love for music and gaming in how they combine video game music and jazz. Without taking away from the games’ sentiments, the band fluently executed live music in a class high above their own." Read full show review here.